My Way to Japan

Ways to find research labs and professors for master’s degree
Ha Hoang Updated in January 2022

When I was 2nd year undergraduate student, I was thinking about studying in Japan after graduation, then I tried many ways to gather information about research labs and professors as much as possible.

1) Study in Japan fair organized by JASSO annually

In the fair, there are 2 main activities: (1) Brochure about school catalogs, application guidelines, syllabus… inside the exhibitor's booth, you also can consult with each university’s staff to get deeper understanding, and (2) Presentations about studying in Japan, Japanese government scholarships, student testimonials from seniors…
I used to attend the fair twice, and I feel that the fair is mainly for undergraduate program rather than graduate one. However, when visiting each university’s booth, you will receive cute gifts from them such as note, pen… I really like it. In addition, meeting and talking with seniors gave me many useful information too.

2) Attend the seminars organized by university/department

In my university, many professors/lecturers were graduated from Japan, so they have a good network with some Japanese professors. Hence, sometimes my university/ department organize seminars and invite these professors to let them introduce about graduate program in their university, also research theme of themself. I also met my Japanese professor by that chance.

The brochure for master's program at my university.

3) Attend international conferences related to your major

Sometimes, my department hosts of some conferences/workshops and asks students to attend as audience to study. In the conference, many foreign professors are invited as speakers, and when I feel interested in their research, I discussed with them about the topic and asked them if they were looking for master’s students.

My knowledge at that time was not good enough to understand well the research of these professors. So I was only able to talk with a few of them.

4) Talk with university/department staffs

I didn’t know that my university has combined master’s/PhD program with some Japanese universities/institutions until my last student’s year. Though information about these program were posted on bulletin board, not many students (including me) noticed it. I asked person in charged once and knew that if I continued studying master’s degree in my university, I could join an exchange program in 2nd year to study in Japan. I want to study full-time oversea, so combined program is not so appealing to me.

5) Get advice from teachers/seniors

I used to think that choosing a famous university is the first priority because I want to have an impressive CV later on. However, most people I know told me that choosing a right professor is the most important. For example, a strict professor will make you feel stressful, while you will learn less with an easygoing professor. If you listen to someone’s experience, I think you could learn some valuable lessons too.

6) Searching on internet and mail professors

The most popular methods might be just google and mail professors directly with your CV attachment. I used to mail many professors, but only one professor replied. It is said that some professors don’t reply strange people, or because there is no vacant position in their lab at that time, or perhaps they are not interested in your CV… This method seems not work to me well.