Study in Japan

Study in Japan

Japan is situated in northeastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873 square kilometers, nearly equivalent to Germany and Switzerland combined or slightly smaller than California. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands. Japan's population is over 126 million. Most Japanese reside in heavily populated urban areas. Japan's capital city is Tokyo. The population of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area including the city, some of its suburbs and the surrounding area is approximately 12 million.

Why Japan?

Modern Japanese culture and society consist of a diverse mix of the old and new, the East and West, and the natural and artificial. These seemingly contradictory elements coexist in harmony in Japan. For example, it is not unusual to see an old Buddhist temple and a modern skyscraper standing next to each other. Japan is a country with rich nature, diverse topography, and beautiful turns of the seasons. Japan also boasts extraordinary skills and techniques in the production of arts and crafts.

The greatest appeal of studying in Japan is its academic environment where one can study state-of-the-art technology. Whether it is electronics, Japanese literature, medicine or international business administration, Japanese universities and other institutes of higher education can offer course studies or research programs of almost any field.

Standard of education

The percentage of students who go on to universities (undergraduate level) and junior colleges (regular courses) is also very high in Japan at 48.6%. This figure is indicative of the high standard of education in Japan. Many universities and junior colleges are well equipped with fine research, computer, and library facilities and enable students to carry out their research in an excellent environment. Many leading figures that are playing an active role in the world today have the experience of studying in Japan. The network of course mates that you can build in Japan will undoubtedly become an invaluable asset for your future career.

Educational system

There are many different ways of studying in Japan. Regardless of the course you choose, from Japanese-language training to postgraduate studies, you will come in touch with Japanese culture and lifestyles will prove to be an invaluable experience for you. Foreign students can enroll in one of five types of institutions of higher learning:

• Universities (undergraduate courses)
There are about 700 universities in Japan, including national, public and private ones. The length of study in an undergraduate university is four years with the exception of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science department, which require six years of study. For more info please visit

• Graduate schools
The length of study in a graduate school depends on whether you are matriculated in a master's program or doctor's program. Master's program: lasts for two years. Doctor's program: lasts for five years. For information regarding specific graduate schools, please refer to the Asian Students Cultural Association web site. For more info please visit

• Junior colleges
The length of study is two years or three years depending on the department. The majority of department are those related to home economics, humanities, education and sociology.

• Special training colleges (post-secondary courses)
Special training schools that offer post secondary courses are called special training colleges. Such schools are positioned as higher educational institutions in Japan. They provide vocational education as well as education in the skills, technology and knowledge needed in life. The length of study is one year or more, but most courses are two years in length.

• Colleges of technology
Colleges of technology provide junior high school graduates with five years (five and a half years for merchant shipping courses) of education. There are about 60 colleges of technology in Japan. They offer courses related to engineering, merchant shipping as well as other fields.

Exchange Programs

Short-term student exchange primarily refers to a student enrolled in a university in his or her own country going abroad to study for a short period of time under an inter-university student exchange agreement. In such cases, the student remains registered at the original university and usually spends less than one year studying at the university or other institute in the foreign country. The purpose is not necessarily to earn a degree, and includes such aims as learning the language or gaining experience in a foreign culture. The short-term exchange student studies at the foreign university for one semester or more and earns credits or receives research guidance. Classes are conducted either in the student's mother tongue or in a foreign language.

Qualifications for admission

The qualifications for admission differ according to the type of higher educational institution you would like to enroll in. A student who has completed his or her secondary education (including high school) and school education for 12 years or more outside of Japan will qualify for admission to a Japanese university.

A student educated in a country where primary and secondary education (including high school) lasts for less than 12 years will become qualified for admission if he or she completes a college preparatory course designated by the Japanese Minister of Education and the student is over 18 years old. Those who have qualifications such as an International Baccalaureate or Abitur and are aged at least 18 years are also qualified for admission to a Japanese university.

Selecting a University

In order to select a university that is most suitable for you, it is extremely important that the prospective student has an accurate understanding of such things as the educational circumstances in Japan as well as the features of the education or research offered by a university. More information related to studying in Japan can be found at JASSO web site.

Academic Year

The academic year at a Japanese school normally begins in April and ends the following March. Some classes are run year-round, but classes are usually divided into semesters, lasting through the first semester (April - September) or the second semester (October - March). Students normally enroll in April, but some universities permit students to enter at a different time, such as in October. There are usually three long vacations at Japanese institutions of higher education during the academic year: the summer break (late July - late August), winter break (late December - early January) and spring break (late February - early April).


There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is of course Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent since English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education.

The general case of studying in Japan begins with a student first enrolling in a Japanese-language institute. The student takes an entrance exam and enrolls in a university or other institute of higher education after they study Japanese and other subjects at a Japanese language institute for one to two years. For this reason, the choice of a Japanese-language institute becomes extremely important for a prospective student. For more information, click here.

Admission and Visas

The procedures that need to be taken to enter Japan as a foreign student are as follows:
• Gain admission to a higher educational institution.
• Acquire a passport
• Acquire a visa
To apply for a visa, the applicant must apply in person to a Japanese Embassy or a consulate, usually in his or her home country. Please note that a "temporary visitor" visa is normally needed to enter Japan in order to take an entrance examination. Please inquire at an overseas Japanese embassy or consular offices for details regarding visas.


Accommodations for foreign students include the following types.
• Student dormitories
• Public housing provided by regional public organizations
• Staff dormitories owned by Japanese firms
• Private accommodations for rent

While some schools run dormitories for foreign students, some simply offer assistance in finding private accommodations. Though the renting conditions vary greatly, private accommodations are usually leased through a real estate agency in the chosen area. If you experience problems in finding accommodations after you arrive in Japan, we suggest that you first consult with those in charge at your school.

There seem to be many small apartments with a monthly rent of between ¥40,000 - ¥80,000(*).Rental fees in metropolitan areas differ greatly from those in outlying areas.


Cost of living

Living costs in Japan and especially in Tokyo are famous to be among the world's highest. However, if you live outside of central Tokyo, adjust to a Japanese lifestyle and do not depend too heavily on food and products from your home country, you may be surprised how inexpensive Japan can be. 100-yen shops and budget stores abound in Japan and sell extremely affordable necessities and reasonably priced gifts, and inexpensive restaurants serve meals that cost 1,000 yen or less. Some of the world's most expensive land can be found in central Tokyo. Consequently, housing doesn’t come cheap. Even tiny apartments in the city centre are very expensive. However, housing costs are distinctly lower in Tokyo's suburbs and in other regions and cities of Japan. Utilities such as gas, water and especially electricity are expensive, and phone rates are high. When in comes to food, local supermarkets are relatively inexpensive if you stick to Japanese food such as seasonal vegetables, seafood, soya bean products and rice.

Working while studying

Many foreign students choose to do part-time work to help pay their tuition or living expenses. In fact, seven out of ten foreign students are engaged in some type of part-time work in Japan. However, please note that because your status of residence is that of College Student or Pre-college Student, you are fundamentally prohibited to work in Japan without getting the necessary permit. Therefore, before you do any part-time work, please make sure to get a "Permit to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted" from your regional immigration bureau. There is also a limit on your working hours according to your status of residence. Please make sure that you stay within the prescribed limit.

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Study in Japan

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Last update: 26 Apr 2016