If you’ve decided on Japan as a destination for your studies, you’ve made an excellent choice. With a growing reputation and plenty of incentives for international students, studying in ‘Nippon’, as the Japanese refer to their country, is an exciting prospect. The application process can be lengthy though, and there’s a lot you need to know. We’ve covered all of the essentials to help you on your way...
There are various routes to study in Japan, and many different kinds of institutions to choose from. Whether it’s for a short-term exchange or a full university programme, your options are broad. Japan has a variety of higher education institutions - colleges of technology, specialised training colleges, junior colleges, universities and graduate schools. These are split into national, public and private establishments.
Usually, the academic year starts in April in Japan. However, in some instances, international students can begin their studies in September. The choice depends on if you’re studying in Japanese or English.
Not surprisingly, exact entrance requirements differ between universities and programmes. Many of the top institutions offer courses taught in both English and Japanese, and the prerequisites vary between the two. Traditionally, universities focus less on international students’ subject grades and more on their credentials and performance in a university-specific entrance exam. However, recently there has been a move towards using academic transcripts and holistic assessments, such as at Ritsumeikan University.
Many students will have to take the Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) test, although there are some exceptions to this, especially for programmes taught in English. We’ve outlined some requirement examples for both English-based and Japanese-based university programmes from a variety of universities in Japan:
Taught in English
Many universities are introducing programmes 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.
Kyoto University – Engineering
This programme has some very specific prerequisites:
- You cannot be a Japanese citizen or dual citizen.
- Students must have at least 12 years of education outside of Japan by the time the course starts, and/or possess 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 your qualifications are equivalent to those previously mentioned, you must go through a preliminary verification process.
- All students must go through two rounds of screening process. Full details can be found on the university website.
The University of Tokyo – PEAK Programmes
There are two PEAK (Programs in English at Komaba) programmes; International Program on Japan in East Asia and International Program on Environmental Sciences.
- Students must have completed either 12 years of education outside of Japan, with nine of those years being in a language other than Japanese
- Alternatively, they can 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 admissions guidelines.
- Students will have to go through two rounds of screening, with the second involving an interview.
Ritsumeikan University - Global Liberal Arts Programme
- Generally, they require you to have at least 12 years of education outside of Japan
- You’ll need to have a native-level of 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.
- For a full list of accepted qualifications, see their application handbook.
Taught in Japanese
Most undergraduate programmes taught in Japanese require international students to take the Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) test. You can consult the list of universities that accept the EJU to find out whether your preferred institutions accept it.
Depending on your choice of university, you may also have to take an entrance exam specific to the university. To do so, you’ll most likely have to travel to Japan in order to sit the test. However, it’s more common for institutions to assess your suitability based on your EJU test score, academic performance, and an interview. There is a list of schools that offer pre-arrival admission. Some universities will also have other specific prerequisites you’ll need to meet.
If you plan on studying in Japan for more than three months, you’ll need to first apply for a student visa. To do so, you’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE). Universities and other educational institutions issue these, and they essentially confirm that they approve your application. In many cases, the university will also supply support during the CoE and visa process.
The visa application itself will have to be sent via 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, you will need to have at least ¥3,000,000 in your bank account – roughly £20,325 or US$26,352.
Health insurance requirements
Japan has a fantastic national health service, and as such students don’t need to purchase their own health insurance. However, even if you register with the National Healthcare system, you will only be covered for 70% of any medical attention you receive, at a cost of around ¥20,000 per year. You will need to pay the remaining 30% yourself. Some universities offer additional health insurance, so you should check with your chosen institution. It’s also advisable to purchase your own private medical insurance to cover you for the remaining 30%.
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