Sep 23, 2009

Studying in GRIPS Tokyo

I have decided to create another post about studying in Japan, specifically at GRIPS, in response to queries I have received via email. My friends from GRIPS might also want to add to the details I have presented below or correct these if these no longer apply. Please consult GRIPS for more updated/correct information at or email GRIPS at this address:

Question: I am not from the government sector but from a private institution, can I apply?

My answer is yes, judging from the information I got from the website. Even if one is from the private sector, he/she can still apply. But note that most of the programs are either on or related to Public Policy. And so this should be taken into account in the decision of whether to apply or not.

Here is the list of MASTERS programs for international students that GRIPS are offering and the target groups:

One-year Master Program of Public Policy (MP1):  
Young government officials, talented scholars in the field of public policy

Two-year Master Program of Public Policy (MP2): 
Pre- and early-career officials and staff members in local or national governments, international organizations and private companies.

Public Finance Program: For the Tax Program : Government officials in developing countries with at least 3 years' work experience in tax policy and administration; for the Customs Program : Government officials in developing countries with at least 2 years' work experience in customs policy and administration

Transition Economy Program:
Officials in ministries of finance, economics, and planning as well as central banks in transition economies in Asia

Young Leaders Program:
Promising young government officials from Asian and other countries

International Development Studies Program:
Citizens of developing countries, Citizens of Japan

Graduate Program in Japanese Language and Culture:
Japanese-language teachers abroad

Disaster Management Policy Program
Technical officials, engineers, or researchers in the fields of earthquakes, tsunamis, water-related disasters, and disaster risk management policy in developing countries

Economics, Planning, and Public Policy Program
Talented government officials

Here is also the list of DOCTORAL programs they are offering:

Policy Analysis Program

Policy Professional Program
Public Policy Program
Science and Technology Policy Program
Security and International Studies Program
Graduate Program in Japanese Language and Culture

The GRIPS website did not specify the target groups for its doctoral programs. For detailed information on admission requirements, I strongly suggest you visit GRIPS' official website at or email GRIPS using this address:

Question: What are your thoughts on the overall study/cultural experience in GRIPS?

My experience in terms of the studies greatly depended on the program I chose which was the 1-year Public Policy Program (back then the 2-year program was not created yet). Except for several mandatory units on Economics and others (like Politics and Development), we were free in selecting courses that interested us or those that we deemed important in our fields. Specifically I chose to take mostly Economics and other related courses such as Monetary Economics, Science and Technology Policy, Game Theory, Operations Research, SME, among others. Other students took courses on the Political Science side dealing with Security Policy etc.The 1-year program is really intensive because it is divided into four terms (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer) so that there is barely time to go on a break between the terms. I don't know how things go in the 2-year program. But my guess is that it would be less intensive than the 1-year program.

As for cultural experience, Japan itself already has a great culture to explore and learn about. In addition, you will be interacting with international students with very diverse cultural orientation. GRIPS is indeed a melting pot.

Question: What has GRIPS able to do for you career-wise?

Career-wise, my education in GRIPS equipped me with skills and capabilities to get deeper with my research skills because I work in a policy think tank. My experience in Japan itself also gave me a lot of ideas and provided me a whole new perspective in many things.

Question: Which is better, GRIPS or Mombusho scholarship?

Let me just clarify that GRIPS is an institution and Mombusho is just another type of scholarship provided by the Japanese government through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Different programs in GRIPS are sponsored by different scholarship-giving entities.
Each student taking Public Policy during my time was under one of the following: ADB JSP,  Mombusho (both scholarships were provided by the Japanese government), or Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Now they have added scholarship from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia(ERIA). Please check out GRIPS website for the scholarships offered in other programs.
If I remember it right, GRIPS determined who should go in a particular scholarship. My guess is that GRIPS checks the criteria for each scholarship and makes decision on which scholarship the student should be assigned to because I don't remember specifying which scholarship I preferred. It sorts of manages the scholarships given by various donors.
Now which is the best among the scholarships, I can't really tell. All I know is that the stipend is pretty much the same for all. But we were lucky back then because we, ADB JSP scholars, were given a one-time book allowance while Mombusho scholars were not. I'm not sure if that still applies to this day.

All photos are from GRIPS website.

Question: I am interested to apply for a slot in the 5-year Policy Analysis PhD program being offered by GRIPS. Do you have an idea of a respectable university grade to be seriously considered by the selection committee?

I don't have any idea about the details of the selection process of GRIPS. I guess, the higher your grades, the better, just to be safe.

Question: Are there many Filipinos studying at GRIPS? 

During my time, there were around 10 Filipino students studying in GRIPS in various programs (Public Policy, International Development Studies, Transition Economy, Young Leaders Program, PhD program). So yes there were a lot of us Filipinos there back then.

Question: You mentioned funding is guaranteed once you are offered a slot, is the funding really sufficient to cover everything from accommodations to meals etc?

I would just like to clarify this. I did not say that funding is guaranteed once you are offered a slot, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. I said that once you are admitted to the program, GRIPS forwards your application to the donors. This saves you from the hassle of applying twice (one for school and another for scholarship). That was the procedure back then, I think that this still applies until now.  

As with sufficiency of funding, yes it is sufficient enough to cover for the living expenses of the scholar (well, basing on my own experience). The donors do review the amount and they also make adjustments but these also depend on the general performance of the Japanese economy (especially for ADB JSP and Mombusho). Please check on the amount of the monthly stipend in here. For example, if you'll have 170,000 yen a month, the rent at TIEC is about 35,000 yen if you'll stay at Bldg. A. You'll still have 135,000 yen for your other needs. If you allot 1,000 yen per meal, you'll still have 45,000 yen remaining for your daily transportation and other needs. It basically depends on your life style also. If you can cook, then that's better.

Question: I am only 22 years old, do you think my youth will work to my disadvantage?

I don't think it will be a problem but I can't say it will work to your advantage either. In some programs, applicants should be under 35. I can't say that the younger you are, the greater your chances will be.

Question: Did you also take the TOEFL?

No, I did not. I sent GRIPS a letter asking them to have that requirement waived for me. I provided them a certification saying that I obtained my undergraduate degree in English language. And they accepted it.

Question: Please share your experience in preparing your docs. Do you have any specific tips?

Just secure all the documents right away so you can beat the deadline. Be patient coz there's quite a lot of documents to prepare. But I assure you that it's not a long list as compared to others. If you'll be applying for PhD, I recommend you put a lot of effort in building your research proposal. The recommendations should be given by your university professor, who has knowledge on your academic performance, and by a senior official from your workplace.

Anyway, I'm sure Karin Hillen, of the Admissions Office, is very much willing to answer all your queries, just email her at

GRIP website here.

Related Posts:
Study in Japan
Study in Japan Part 2

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