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  • A little bit of advice for a prospective student

    Hey, to any and all who are reading this, I was looking for some advice about getting an advanced degree in Japanese history in Japan itself.

    I've read quite a bit about the MEXT scholarship and how useful it is, but I still have a few questions. My biggest concern is seeking approval from professors for my research topic. Is there any particular format or approach I should use or take when I email professors? Does anyone have any good advice for how I should structure my email or how in depth I should get into my research in my first email to the professor?
    My other concern is my current Japanese level. I passed the JLPT N2, do you think this would be enough for acceptance as a research student in a Graduate School of Letters?
    Is there anyone who has done something similar (particularly gotten a liberal arts degree in Japan) or has advice?

  • #2
    Originally posted by theojiki View Post

    I've read quite a bit about the MEXT scholarship and how useful it is, but I still have a few questions. My biggest concern is seeking approval from professors for my research topic. Is there any particular format or approach I should use or take when I email professors? Does anyone have any good advice for how I should structure my email or how in depth I should get into my research in my first email to the professor?
    My other concern is my current Japanese level. I passed the JLPT N2, do you think this would be enough for acceptance as a research student in a Graduate School of Letters?
    Is there anyone who has done something similar (particularly gotten a liberal arts degree in Japan) or has advice?
    Hey,

    The MEXT is more than useful; it is the only way to go, especially on a career path that will not likely pay oodles of money.

    A degree paid for means you might well not be good enough to be an academic, after all, harsh as that sounds and allowing for late bloomers.

    As for seeking approval from professors, more than approval of the research project per se, you need to get their approval of you. Especially if you are applying to one of the national Alpha Monkey Universities, you must convince a prospective supervisor that you are worth the time and effort it will take to get your name in and high up in the MEXT admittance lottery, which requires a lot of horse trading at the faculty level.

    So, putting aside for the moment the nitty gritty of the actual proposal, what you should do in your initial emails is mention how much you enjoyed his or her research on topic X and their approach and methodology to it (and actually get the book and read it, or at least skim it), and how you feel that your own interests in Bibbleydang and Gobbledygoop seem to match them well, and then go on to give no more than a short paragraph summarising your own proposal.

    Jpn N2 will be fine as a base to get in and get accepted on a Monbusho, though if your topic is rather arcane you might have to commit to intensive Kanjification initially.

    I did half my PhD whilst at Kyoto U on a Monbusho, though I gave up on the Kyoto part of the planned dual degree due to logistical obstacles.

    Depending on your own level now, you can get both your Master's and Phiddle paid for, unless things have changed.

    The stipends seem not as generous as they once were, but they are more than enough for a postgraduate student.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by kurogane View Post
      Hey,

      The MEXT is more than useful; it is the only way to go, especially on a career path that will not likely pay oodles of money.

      A degree paid for means you might well not be good enough to be an academic, after all, harsh as that sounds and allowing for late bloomers.

      As for seeking approval from professors, more than approval of the research project per se, you need to get their approval of you. Especially if you are applying to one of the national Alpha Monkey Universities, you must convince a prospective supervisor that you are worth the time and effort it will take to get your name in and high up in the MEXT admittance lottery, which requires a lot of horse trading at the faculty level.

      So, putting aside for the moment the nitty gritty of the actual proposal, what you should do in your initial emails is mention how much you enjoyed his or her research on topic X and their approach and methodology to it (and actually get the book and read it, or at least skim it), and how you feel that your own interests in Bibbleydang and Gobbledygoop seem to match them well, and then go on to give no more than a short paragraph summarising your own proposal.

      Jpn N2 will be fine as a base to get in and get accepted on a Monbusho, though if your topic is rather arcane you might have to commit to intensive Kanjification initially.

      I did half my PhD whilst at Kyoto U on a Monbusho, though I gave up on the Kyoto part of the planned dual degree due to logistical obstacles.

      Depending on your own level now, you can get both your Master's and Phiddle paid for, unless things have changed.

      The stipends seem not as generous as they once were, but they are more than enough for a postgraduate student.

      Wow, thanks a lot! I think that this will make the Monbusho-seeking process easier.

      Comment


      • #4
        I studied a year as an exchange student, but got my degree back home. Two points:
        + Contacts : Rather than contacting profs yourself, it would often be better 'the Japanese way' via a professor who could recommend you. That should be easy if your Uni/Prof has connections to a partner Uni in Japan, have co-authored articles or met at a conference.
        + Language : Many Unis now require the "{w, Nihon Ryūgaku Shiken" Test http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examina...sity_Admission as a condition for enrollment.

        The obvious thing would be to link the research they have been doing/publishing with your own plans. But the risk is that some Japanese Profs might not accept you if they feel their own English (and your Japanese) is not good enough.
        Another 'sales point' might be that you could support their studies by digging up material from the 'other' side (e.g. to dig up/translate french documents for a study of the Japanese-French relations from 1919-1941')

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by theojiki View Post
          Hey, to any and all who are reading this, I was looking for some advice about getting an advanced degree in Japanese history in Japan itself.

          I've read quite a bit about the MEXT scholarship and how useful it is, but I still have a few questions. My biggest concern is seeking approval from professors for my research topic. Is there any particular format or approach I should use or take when I email professors? Does anyone have any good advice for how I should structure my email or how in depth I should get into my research in my first email to the professor?
          My other concern is my current Japanese level. I passed the JLPT N2, do you think this would be enough for acceptance as a research student in a Graduate School of Letters?
          Is there anyone who has done something similar (particularly gotten a liberal arts degree in Japan) or has advice?
          Adding to the comments above
          JLPT N2 --- Hmm, it might be barely enough, but actually, not in many cases (top tier universities).
          Contacting profs --- we get plenty of mail from all over the world, especially from Chinese, most of whom are super bright. If you have contacts in your present university, that would certainly help. If you have a good prof who can write a good recommendation letter for you, it may help. If your grades are anything less than stellar (not kidding), forget about applying. Sorry. Some places indeed do accept Research Students. You study your buns off until you write the exam and then begin as a grad student.

          Comment


          • #6
            Ah, MEXT. In charge of scholarships, sports, and radiation monitoring & cleanup.

            I (heart) Japanese bureaucracy.

            Impatiently,
            A.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by theojiki View Post
              Wow, thanks a lot! I think that this will make the Monbusho-seeking process easier.
              Glad it helped. You need to focus. If you want further help, post here
              or PM me. I will be more than happy to do what I can, disiplinary vicissitudes aside.

              Good luck.



              Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
              Adding to the comments above
              JLPT N2 --- Hmm, it might be barely enough, but actually, not in many cases (top tier universities).
              Contacting profs --- we get plenty of mail from all over the world, especially from Chinese, most of whom are super bright. If you have contacts in your present university, that would certainly help. If you have a good prof who can write a good recommendation letter for you, it may help. If your grades are anything less than stellar (not kidding), forget about applying. Sorry. Some places indeed do accept Research Students. You study your buns off until you write the exam and then begin as a grad student.

              Nice advice. I am not too sure about the N2 problem (they still like white people more, ATBE), but History is certainly one area where Japanese skills count. On the other hand, N2 from abroad show a Ganbaru Spirit.



              Originally posted by Agitator View Post
              Ah, MEXT. In charge of scholarships, sports, and radiation monitoring & cleanup.

              I (heart) Japanese bureaucracy.

              Impatiently,
              A.

              We are talking about the scholarship part here...................
              Last edited by kurogane; 2013-01-31, 07:40 PM.

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