Contact , FAQ


Graduate Program Group
Division of International Collaborations and Public Relations
National Institute for Materials Science

1-2-1 Sengen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0047 JAPAN

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NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship

  • What is the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship? NIMS Junior Researcher?

    NIMS offers the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship to excellent doctoral/master's students who enrolled in the NIMS Joint Graduate School Programs, who aspire to a career as researchers. This is not a scholarship but an employment. The awarded students, NIMS Junior Researchers, will have opportunity to work as members of the NIMS laboratories and receive a monthly stipend for their activities. Academic study for a degree is not considered as the work duty. However, the assigned duties are consistent with the research objectives of the NIMS laboratory where you study. Eventually, as a result, the conditions of the assistantship will be fulfilled by focusing on research activities for the purpose of obtaining a degree.
    Important Note: Master’s programs are only available in the NIMS Joint Graduate School Program with University of Tsukuba. Namely, the following programs in “Degree Programs in Pure and Applied Sciences”.
    - Registering “Materials Science and Engineering Class” in Master's program in Engineering Sciences: Subprogram in Applied Physics, or Subprogram in Materials Science.
    * Subprogram to enter will be automatically determined by which program your professor belongs to.
    - Master’s program in Materials Innovation

  • If I apply for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship, is the university application still required?

    Yes. Application for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship and the one for the university entrance exam are different. Applicants who were selected on the document screening of the assistantship must submit the application documents to the university during the university application period. The university application fees are non-refundable and paid by the applicants.
    If you fail to apply for the university, you will be automatically disqualified in the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship selection, even you passed the document screening. You will need to resubmit the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship application when you try again in the next application period.

  • How can I become a NIMS Junior Researcher? How and when can I apply for the assistantship?

    Enrollment to the graduate program is a prerequisite to be the NIMS Junior Researcher. The application period is generally 2-3 months before the university application period. The details will be announced on the website of each program. The application documents need to be sent by email to the Graduate Program Group, NIMS. Prior to the university application, the candidates will be selected based on the documents, and the results will be sent by email in 1-2 months before the university application period. Then the candidates need to be successful in the university entrance exam.

  • Will I be interviewed for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship? Where will it be held?

    It depends on the program. An interview, apart from the university entrance exam, will be part of the selection process for the assistantship in some programs. This is often conducted online. Please see the website of the NIMS graduate Research Assistantship on each program website.

  • How much is the monthly stipend? Does the employment start from the first month of the enrollment? Is housing allowance also provided?

    The monthly stipend is as follows. The maximum number of working days will be determined by the research assistantship selection process.
    Doctoral student: approximately 200,000 JPY for 14 days work per month
    Master's student: approximately 160,000 JPY for 11 days work per month
    Income tax is imposed on the stipend. The stipend is paid in the middle of every month, after the tax deduction. There is no housing allowance. There are many affordable apartments/flats for university students in the area where NIMS is located, as universities are located nearby. For the students at the University of Tsukuba, student dormitory is also available.

  • How long is the contract of the NIMS Junior Researcher?

    The contract is for one year; it may be renewed annually, depending on your performance. The maximum employment period is the same as the program duration; 3 years for doctoral students, and 2 years for master's students. If you withdraw from graduate school or complete your studies within a short period of time, your employment contract will end at that point.

  • Is there any age limitation to become the NIMS Junior Researcher?

    There are no age restrictions for this application.

  • Can I have another part-time job while working as the NIMS Junior Researcher?

    No. The purpose of the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship is to enable the students to focus on their graduate study and research. The NIMS Junior Researcher has an obligation to perform their duty and is restricted from pursuing a side job. The assistantship is designed to fit in the conditions of the work permit for student visa holders. Upon the employment as a NIMS Junior Researcher, all international students must obtain the permit (Permission to Engage in Activity Other Than That Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted) as well as the student visa.

  • Is it possible to apply for both NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship and JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) Research Fellowships?

    PhD Students are eligible to apply for JSPS Research Fellowships for Young Scientists. Please go to the JSPS website for the details. Please note that you cannot make contracts with both at the same time.

  • If I get accepted as a NIMS Junior Researcher, will I get exempt from paying the enrollment fee or tuition fee?

    No. NIMS doesn’t pay the fees whether the student has the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship. However, some universities provide a limited number of admission/tuition fee waivers and the deferred payment during the admission process. The information will be provided upon a success of entrance exam. To learn about the fees, please see the university application guidelines or visit the university websites.

  • Do I have to mail NIMS all the required documents for the application?

    Please email NIMS Graduate Programs Office attached with university-issued documents such as transcripts in a PDF or image format, along with the application form and CV. The language must be English or Japanese. However, it’s important that all universities require you to mail the original documents during the university application process. Online generated transcripts may not be accepted. If you foresee any difficulties in the submission, it’s recommended to consult a university that you plan to apply.

  • “References” are asked in the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship application. Who should be named here?

    Recommendations should be written by people who have supervised you in academic or employment. At least one should be from a university professor or a research institute familiar with your work. Please provide the names and their email addresses of at least two people who can provide references on the applicant. NIMS may request letters of recommendation from references during the screening process. We recommend that you inform the people you list as references in advance that they may be contacted by NIMS. Please note that the letters of recommendation will be a confidential communication between your reference and NIMS, and are used in evaluation your aptitude for graduate study.

  • One of the required documents for application is a copy of an English score certificate of TOEIC L&R, TOEFL iBT, or IELTS academic taken within the past two years. I do not need to submit the English score certificate for my application to the university. Is it still required for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship application?

    All applicants are required to have TOEIC/TOEFL/IELTS score before the application deadline. The scores must be from an examination taken within the last 2 years. Make sure to take the test in time for your scores to be received before the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship application.
    * Some universities do not require applicants whose native language is English, and applicants who have obtained a degree at an institution where English is the main language of instruction. Some requires to send the original copy of the score certificate. Please see university application guidelines for the details. However, in all cases, the score certificate within the 2-year validity is required for the assistantship application.

  • If I get paid as a NIMS Junior Researcher, will I get exempted from repaying the JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) scholarship?

    Due to the employment condition of the NIMS Junior Researcher, the repayment exemption does not apply. Please see the JASSO website for the details.

  • I am currently employed now. I will be on a long unpaid leave if I am accepted into the graduate program as a student. Am I eligible to apply for the NIMS Junior Researcher?

    Yes. Once you are back from leave and get paid again, the contract of the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship will be terminated.

  • While I get paid as a NIMS Junior, can I receive a scholarship?

    Yes, if the employment conditions meet the eligibility of the scholarship application. You can apply for both the NIMS Junior and scholarships, including JSPS Research Fellowship, government scholarship and JST fellowships offered by some universities. However, please apply with the understanding that you will not turn down the scholarship offer. If you are selected both, your NIMS Junior stipend will be deducted or terminated regardless of the NIMS funding source.
    < Important note >
    - The employment will be withdrawn if the NIMS Junior gets awarded JSPS research fellow, government scholarship or fellowship by JST.
    ** If a scholarship is awarded and paid retroactively, as an exception, the NIMS Junior stipend with confirmed work record will be concurrently paid.
    - If the scholarship (a total of living allowance and research grants) is more than 100,000 JPY per month, the monthly salary of NIMS Junior will be deducted to approx. 120,000 JPY for PhD, 70,000 for Master’s.
    - Scholarship that specifies a type of employment after graduation, such as working at a designated institution, are not allowed to receive.
    - No NIMS Junior salary reduction by working as a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant at an enrolled university.
    - Failure to promptly report to your supervising professor about being selected for a scholarship may result in revocation of your NIMS Junior employment.

Application and Admission Procedures

  • I understand that I need both NIMS Jr. employment and a university application. Where can I find information on how to apply to university?

    Please refer to the university application guidelines for the university or major of your choice. You can also find links to the corresponding university websites on each NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship application page. Application procedures vary by university and major. In some cases, application guidelines including application forms are distributed only in print. In such cases, you will need to contact the university office well in advance and request to mail you the application form.

  • Is there any fee for the university application?

    An examination fees are non-refundable and must be paid by the applicant during the university application period. Applicants who are or going to be supported by government scholarship may be exempt from paying the fee. Please read the university application guidelines or contact the university office prior to apply.

  • What is the Pre-assessment of Applicants' Qualifications or Eligibility Screening?

    It is to assess that university determines whether an applicant has academic ability equivalent to or greater than that of an undergraduate or postgraduate school graduate, based on academic history and achievements. Specifically, if you may have skipped a class, be enrolled in an integrated undergraduate/master's program, or not have a master's degree but have made achievements in research. For details, please consult with your prospective supervising professor well in advance.

  • Do I have to mail my application?

    Since submission of original documents are required in some certificates, please mail your application and make sure it reaches the university during the application period. Applications arriving after the end of the application period will not be accepted. University applications should be submitted to the university, not to NIMS. For applicants residing overseas, please consider using international courier service, depending on your country/region. Please refer to the application guidelines for application procedures.

  • When is the university entrance examination?

    For the schedule and the details, please see the university application guidelines or the university admissions website.

  • Where am I going to take the university entrance exam to get admitted to the NIMS Joint Graduate School Program?

    The exam is held at the university in most of the programs. The admission will be decided by the application documents and the interview at the exam. The selection process will be different by the courses or universities. If you have applied for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship, you may be requested to attend the interview at NIMS which is usually held a few days before the university exam.

  • What is the content of the entrance examination?

    The main part of the entrance examination for the doctoral program is a presentation and question-and-answer session on the master's thesis or research deemed equivalent. In addition to the interview, there may be other examination such as a written examination. Please refer to the student application guidelines of the university or department of your choice, or consult with your prospective supervising professor.

  • I currently study at university in Japan as an international student. Is there a particular exam for me?

    There is no special entrance examination for international students in Japan. The entrance exam is conducted in either English or Japanese. No Japanese language proficiency required.

  • I am non-Japanese national, currently residing outside of Japan. If the entrance examination is held only on a university campus, do I need a visa to enter Japan to take the examination?

    If the entrance examination is held only at the university campus, those from countries that do not have a reciprocal visa exemption agreement with Japan will need to obtain a "short-term stay" visa for the purpose of taking the entrance examination. For details, please contact the university office or the local Japanese embassy or consulate.

  • At the examination, can I present my research achievements while I was employed, not from my master's thesis?

    Please discuss the contents with your prospective supervising professor.

  • If I successfully pass the university exam, what do I have to do for the enrollment?

    Details of the enrollment procedures will be provided in the notification letter mailed to those who have been successful. As well as the university enrollment administration, all students in the NIMS Joint Graduate School programs are required to register at NIMS. Please follow the instructions provided by your supervising professor.

  • What kind of visa do I have to obtain for this program?

    Student visa will be arranged by the university. When Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is delivered to you via the university, please go to Japan embassy/consulate in your country to get the visa issued. If you are qualified for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship, you have to obtain “Permission to engage in activities other than permitted under the status of residence previously granted”. Otherwise, you will not be able to start working as NIMS Junior Researcher.

Campus Life

  • How different is this program, compared to the conventional graduate programs?

    The program is a unique type of graduate school, aiming at high level education and training of scientists and technicians. Students will take part in some of the latest research projects, experiencing the forefront Research and Development activity. This could bring the students towards understanding the most up-to-date and relevant developments in materials science. You may collaborate with NIMS researcher who is your supervisor, researchers and staff in your laboratory, post-doctoral fellows, and other students on projects and other activities. You may also have opportunities to work with people who are actively conducting research in the immediate vicinity, such as in collaboration with companies, universities, or other research institutions.
    This feature may arouse a little concern over basic study and knowledge, particularly in the Master's program. However, the program is designed to provide a platform for further research. It is delivered via a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials at both university and NIMS.

  • Where am I going to study at the university or NIMS?

    Most of the research activities will be performed at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS, located in Tsukuba city, Ibaraki prefecture). All students at the NIMS Joint Graduate School Program will join the NIMS research groups to conduct their research. The group and location are determined by where the supervising professor’s group is located: Sengen, Namiki or Sakura site.

  • If the main campus is NIMS, how often do I go to the university campus?

    Usually a few times a year, however, it will be different from the courses/universities. The thesis defense is usually conducted on the university campus. Master's students of University of Tsukuba will attend lectures on the university campus. Please ask your prospective supervising professor for details.

  • I feel that there are fewer opportunities to meet other students, compared to a regular university.

    NIMS has various programs for students, apart from this program. The students, from Japan and across the world, can take advantage of the opportunities to gain knowledge and skills that will benefit the present and the future. More than a half of the students in this program are from overseas, so English is used in daily activities. Get-together events and student seminars are held several times a year, and some events are for all the doctoral and master's students and NIMS professors in the NIMS Joint Graduate School Program. The students also can participate in workshops and symposiums at NIMS as well as the university.

  • Is it possible to join the seminar in NIMS?

    You can participate in workshops and symposiums held at NIMS as well as at the university.

  • Is it possible to visit laboratories before applying for the NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship or the university exam?

    Please contact the NIMS professor directly by email for the arrangement.
    There are also opportunities to meet NIMS professors in person such as at NIMS Open Day, NIMS Award Symposium and other NIMS-sponsored events. For event information, please visit the NIMS official website.

  • How am I going to earn the course credits required for the degree?

    Basically, the required course credits will be earned by activities at NIMS. Depending on what courses the student takes, it may be required attending lectures at the university. Except for the University of Tsukuba, the curriculum is designed so that students do not have to frequently travel back and forth between the university and NIMS.

  • Who will be on my dissertation?

    Professors from your program will be your dissertation committee. Professors from other programs of the university may participate as well.

  • I am interested in the research of Materials Sciences, but is it possible to apply this program even if I don’t understand Japanese?

    Lectures and research activities at university and NIMS are all conducted in English. No Japanese language proficiency required for this program.

  • Do I need to have a high level of English proficiency to enter this program?

    English proficiency is required to read and write academic papers and to present research in English. NIMS is an international research institute where about 30% of the researchers are foreign nationals. Therefore, you will be able to improve your English language skills naturally in your daily activities.

  • Is there a student accommodation facility?

    There is no specific accommodation available at NIMS. As there are a few universities located 1-6 km away from NIMS, it would not be difficult in finding student apartments/flats close to NIMS at reasonable prices.

  • Is it possible to use the facilities at NIMS, other than the facilities owned by the laboratory I belong to?

    Yes. First you will need to get the approval by your supervising professor. Every facility has rules for safe use. Most can be used if the appropriate procedures are followed.

  • Do I have to purchase insurance against accidents and disasters during experiments?

    To ensure your safety at the university and NIMS, you will be required to purchase two types upon enrollment via university: personal accident insurance and liability insurance. They should be covered from enrollment to graduation. Separately, the international students are required to join the National Health Insurance paid by the students. It reduces the medical expenses by joining the scheme, and helps in case of accident and/or illness. Details will be provided by the university.

  • Will I be able to have regular health check-ups, like other students at university?

    Since the main campus is NIMS, taking a health check at university will be difficult. However, all students in this graduate program will be able to take health check-ups at NIMS. If your research involves use of radiation, organic solvent or particular types of chemicals, the extra medical check will be available. If you are able to take the check-ups on the occasion stipulated by NIMS, it is free. For students of University of Tsukuba, the check-ups will be held on the university campus.

  • Is there any particular registration required if I deal with radiation for my research?

    You will have to register as a radiation worker at university, and NIMS if necessary. The users have to go through safety training every year. It will be instructed by your supervising professor or the university.

  • Can I present the results/articles at a conference or seminar during my course study or after the completion? Is there any way to have financial support for the travel?

    You will be encouraged to present your results at such occasions. Prior discussion and approval from your supervising professor is required. If you present the research results conducted at NIMS, you can possibly have travel financial support.

  • How much is the tuition fee required for the program?

    Please see the latest university application guidelines or visit the university websites. Some universities provides admission/tuition fee waivers and the deferred payment. The information will be provided by the university that you are enrolled.

  • Can I apply for a scholarship?

    Universities offer a wide range of scholarships to both Japanese and international students. For the scholarship information including the eligibility and how to apply, please visit the university websites. The NIMS Graduate Research Assistantship recipients can also apply for scholarships. However, there are some rules. See section “While I get paid as a NIMS Junior, can I receive a scholarship?”