Before you start your application as an international student, you’ll need to make sure you’re eligible for an offer and get certain documents ready. This guide covers everything you’ll need to prepare - from entrance exams to health insurance.
There is no centralised applications system, so exact entrance requirements differ between universities and programs.
Traditionally, Japanese universities focus less on international students’ subject grades and more on their performance in a university-specific entrance exam, such as the Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) test. Recently, however, there has been a move towards using academic transcripts and holistic assessments to evaluate international students, to adjust for the fact that they might be used to a different applications system. An example of this is Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, which allows applicants to English-taught programs to submit application essays, instead of taking an entrance exam.
We’ve outlined some typical requirements for both English-based and Japanese-based university programs:
Requirements for English-taught programs
Many universities are introducing programs taught in English to attract more international students. To be eligible, you’ll usually need to complete at least 12 years of education in your home country.
Example 1: Kyoto University - Engineering
This program has some very specific requirements:
- You cannot be a Japanese citizen or dual citizen.
- You must have at least 12 years of education outside of Japan by the time the course starts, and/or hold GCE A-Level, German Abitur, International Baccalaureate, or Baccalaureate qualifications.
- Those who have taken any education in Japan, including at an international school, must take the EJU test.
- In some cases, you will need to show proof of your English abilities, either a TOEFL or IETLS certificate.
- If you have different qualifications to those mentioned above, but they are considered equivalent in value, you must ask for approval from the faculty.
- All students must go through two rounds of a screening process: the first is the submission of application documents and the second is the interview phase.
Example 2: The University of Tokyo - PEAK programs
There are two PEAK (Programs in English at Komaba) programs: the International Program on Japan in East Asia and the International Program on Environmental Sciences.
- You must have at least 12 years of education outside of Japan by the time the course starts (nine of which must have been in a language other than Japanese), and/or hold GCE A-Level, German Abitur, International Baccalaureate, or Baccalaureate qualifications.
- Other national and international qualifications are accepted, and further information on these can be found in the university’s admissions guidelines.
- Students will have to go through two rounds of screening, with the second involving an interview.
Example 3: Ritsumeikan University - Global Liberal Arts program
- Generally, they require you to have at least 12 years of education outside of Japan.
- You’ll need to have native-level English or an IELTS or TOEFL.
- For April admissions, students must possess non-Japanese nationality. Alternatively, they must possess only Japanese nationality and have graduated (or are to graduate) from high schools located abroad, by the time of enrolment.
Requirements for Japanese-taught programs
Most undergraduate programs taught in Japanese require international students to take the Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) test. You’ll find a list of universities that accept the EJU at the end of this guide.
Some universities may also ask their applicants to take an entrance exam which is specific to their program. However, this is rare for international students as most universities don’t want to discourage those who can’t travel to Japan to sit the test from applying. It is more common for institutions to assess your suitability based on your EJU test score, academic performance, and an interview. At the end of this guide, you’ll find a list of universities that offer admission without applicants having to travel to Japan beforehand.
If you plan on studying in Japan for more than three months, you’ll need to first apply for a student visa.
An important part of your visa application is the Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). Most often, your university will supply you with this but, if not, you’ll need to apply via the Japanese immigration bureau. Make sure that you do this well in advance of the start of your program, as it can take up to three months to process. The CoE proves that you have a place on a degree program, and that you will be studying during your time in Japan.
You then need to send the visa application itself, including the CoE, to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country, which will usually process it in around five working days.
To enter Japan, students will need to show that they have the financial backing to support themselves during their stay. The exact amount you need will depend on your tuition fees, accommodation, and location in Japan. If you’re supporting yourself (ie. not receiving a scholarship) you will need to have at least 3,000,000 JPY in your bank account - roughly 20,325 GBP or 26,352 USD.
Health insurance requirements
Japan has a fantastic national health service, so you won’t need to seek out private healthcare. Registration to the national health system costs around 20,000 JPY per year and covers 70% of any medical attention you receive. You will need to pay the remaining 30% yourself, and you can buy health insurance to help you do this. Some universities offer their own health insurance, so you should check with your chosen institution.
This article was written with the help of the International Admissions Office of Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. For questions about Ritsumeikan University’s degrees, email firstname.lastname@example.org