Singapore Government Scholarships Guide
The Public Service Commission (PSC) and some statutory boards offer scholarships to study in non-English speaking countries, with Japan being one of them. As part of the administrative service's push to encourage more talents to study in nonconventional destinations, the bond period for these countries is reduced from 6 years to 5 years for a 4-year undergraduate degree. However, for Masters' Degree, 1 year of studies will usually translate into 1 year of bond obligation.
Singapore Citizen with outstanding academic & co-curricular records, and a strong passion for civil service.
Singapore Permanent Residents with the intention to take up Singapore Citizenship are also eligible for selected scholarships.
However, since Singapore Government Scholarships are essentially early employment contracts, scholarship providers take into great consideration if you are fit for the job scope you are expected to discharge upon graduation.
Scholarship application & selection
Applications to government scholarships usually start after the release of A-level results in early Feb, with some scholarships also offering off-cycle applications. If you have NS obligations, deferment is available and you can apply in the first year of NS.
Application to PSC scholarships is done on the PSC portal while that of statutory board scholarships is often done via a central gateway, Brightsparks. You will be required to submit education transcripts, co-curricular records, and complete the designated assignments (such as essays and presentations) as part of the selection process. Japanese experience is not necessary.
There are usually multiple rounds of interviews, with the first one usually being conducted by the HR department of scholarship providers. Some statutory boards prefer to conduct the first interview in the form of team-based interviews, where they will group candidates into groups and assess each individual's performance when working on a task together. Apart from team-based interviews, presentation-based interviews are also common.
If you are shortlisted from the first interview, you will then be required to attend interviews with the higher authority in the agency, who will decide the outcome of your scholarship application.
Applying to Japan
The most important thing to take note of when applying to a course in Japan is the requirements specified in your scholarship agreement.
If you are applying to any Japanese course as a Singapore Government Scholar (外国政府派遣留学生), you will be in the same pool as all other private candidates. There will be hardly any preferential treatment given to foreign government scholars. Thus, you might need competitive EJU and JLPT scores to break into the top national universities. For a rough gauge, the science EJU score cutoff for the University of Tokyo is 720/800, and for Waseda University's Japanese programs is around 680/800. For Japanese-taught arts courses, the EJU cutoffs are similar.
If you are not confident of beating EJU/JLPT before coming to Japan, an extra year in language school would be sensible. In the case of Singapore Government Scholars, the dedicated language school is JASSO Tokyo Language School. Do take note that they do not allow deferments, and you can only apply the year before you are flying off to Japan.
The good side of JASSO Tokyo Language School is that the teachers have seen batches of government scholars come and go, and they are experienced in guiding you through applying to a Japanese university. However, the down side to JASSO Tokyo Language School is that they are not the most EJU-oriented preparatory institution in Japan, and you might need some extra practice materials such as 赤本 or チャート式 to better prepare for the entrance examinations of Japanese universities.
If your scholarship agreement allows you to pursue an English-taught course, you have a lot more choices as English courses such as Waseda's SILS are now viable options. Refer to our guide to English undergraduate programs in Japan. Our take on English-taught courses is, they are generally much easier to apply to compared to Japanese courses, and if improving your Japanese & understanding the Japanese society at your fingertips is not a priority, English courses is a more hassle-free route to Japan.
We recognize that there is very limited information on scholarships offered by Singapore Government agencies to study in higher education institutions in Japan. So based on the experiences of our members who have taken up government scholarships, we have come up with some useful information for you to refer to when applying to Singapore Government Scholarships. We do not guarantee the accuracy of information provided on this page, and the opinions expressed on this page do not represent the official views of SSAJ.