JET Program

The Jet Program

So you’re thinking about applying for JET? Get ready for this exciting, nerve-wrecking, and LONG ride!

This is the basics of what you need to know about applying to the JET Program. Shortly summarized to include, what I believe to be, the most important information. (The American perspective. Each country could be different.)

What is the JET Program? 

If you’re here, I’m assuming you’ve already done your research and know what JET is. But just in case, here’s a quick definition offered by Wikipedia:

“The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme or JET Programme is a Japanese government initiative that brings college (university) graduates—mostly native speakers of English—to Japan as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and Sports Education Advisors (SEAs) in Japanese kindergartens, elementary, junior high and high schools, or as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) in local governments and boards of education.”

Am I eligible?  

Despite the long list of requirements shown on their website ( there are only a couple of things you “really” need.

  1. A Bachelor’s Degree

It doesn’t matter what your degree is in as long as you have it. I, for example, majored in Spanish. Now if you’re currently in university and don’t have your degree yet, don’t fret! As long as you have obtained your degree by the designated date prior to departure you can still apply. This year, for example, the deadline to send in proof of your degree is June 24th. Obviously, if you have anything higher than a bachelor’s you are eligible.

2. Citizenship

If you are applying to the JET Program through the United States, you must be a U.S. citizen. Not a citizen yet? Don’t worry, you have until the application deadline to become one.

The rest of the list is either really not as important as they make it seem, fluffed over, or not asked about at all. That being said, if you have no interest in Japan, teaching, or kids, what are you doing here??

How do I apply? 

It is extremely important to note that JET only accepts applications once a year. Meaning if you miss the deadline, you’ll have to wait until next year to apply. I stress this because I almost missed the deadline (oops…) and was only saved by the fact that they extended the deadline this year.

JET starts accepting applications in the fall for positions the following summer. Meaning this year, they are accepting applications in October 2016 for the 2017 JET Program.

Now that I feel like I’ve stressed that enough, let’s move on to actually applying.

Applying is half online, through the online application portal, and half on paper. Basically everything that is added to your online application must also be mailed in.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you’ll be applying through here:

To apply you will need:

  • Application Form (provided by JET)
  • Self-Assessment Medical Form (provided by JET)
  • Authorization and Release Form (provided by JET)
  • Transcripts
  • You will need transcripts from all college or university courses you have taken or are currently taking, including community college, junior college, study abroad and associate’s degree transcripts. These transcripts must be official, but you can open them to scan them and add them to your online application.
  • Proof of Graduation
  • A photocopy of your Bachelor’s diploma (preferred) or an official transcript which includes the name of the degree and the date it was conferred. If you haven’t graduated yet, you will need a Proof of Expected Date of Graduation or a Proof of Current Enrollment. This can also be added to your online application.
  • Two Letter of Recommendation (Online or physical letter)
  • These must be academic or professional, meaning no personal references. For those who haven’t graduated by the application deadline, one of your references must come from someone related to your university and must contain a reference to your expected date of graduation. Your references can either write you a physical letter or submit one through the online portal.
  • Statement of Purpose
  • The cause of many applicants stress, sleepless nights, self-doubting, over-analyzing, and much more, this is an essay describing your interest in Japan and reasons for applying to the JET Program. It must be typed directly in the online application portal. (I will be writing a separate post just about this.)
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • This can be a copy of your U.S. passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate. This can be added to your online application.

These are not required documents, but you can add them to your application if they apply to you:

  • Proof of Study Abroad
  • Proof of Teaching Certification
  • Proof of TESL/ TEFL Qualification
  • Proof of Japanese Language Proficiency

The JET website does a great job detailing all the required documents for you, so I definitely recommend checking it out:

I’ve applied, now what? 

Once you’ve submitted your online application and mailed in your physical application, there’s nothing to do but wait to see if you’ve passed the first stage of the application process. Applications are due in November and you can expect an email in January. Yes, the wait is super long, but there’s nothing you can do about it. I sent my application in November 18th and received a reply January 11th.

When you finally receive an email it will tell you one of two things: either you’ve been selected to partake in the interview process or you haven’t.

If you don’t receive an interview, don’t get too discouraged. JET is one of the many ways to get to Japan, not the only way. If you have your heart set on JET, there’s nothing to do but reflect on how to improve your application and apply again next year.

If you do receive an interview, be prepared for more stress, sleepless nights, self-doubting, and over-analyzing. I am in no way trying to discourage you, I’m trying to prepare you 😉 But for now, enjoy the moment, savor your victory, and wait for my post on the JET Interview Process.

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