It would be wrong to state that Japanese universities do not lag behind the latest trends — they are starting them. It is here where the world's most advanced laboratories are concentrated, revolutionary discoveries are made at local universities, and the quality of Japanese products, technology and education is well-known all over the world. For many years, the Land of the Rising Sun was closed to foreign students, but at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century, the doors of most Japanese universities opened for young people planning to connect their lives with advanced technology, innovative developments and science.
Education in Japan is a cult, and local teachers are senseis, professionals in their fields. The Japanese treat the study process, teachers and students with great respect, and the government strongly supports the development of education. There are cutting-edge laboratories even at a small university. That is why Japan is the center of attraction for students who are enthusiastic about science, for young scientists and outstanding representatives of scientific world.
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world.
Studying at Japanese universities combines deep theoretical knowledge and practical skills, brilliant teaching staff, comfortable conditions for studying and living. Local universities try to provide students with rooms on campus, the majority of students from other countries stay within walking distance from university buildings and laboratories.
On campuses of Japanese universities modern buildings in high-tech style go hand in hand with ancient gardens and castles. All university campuses in Japan are small works of art. There are gardens of stones, monuments, pagodas and statues, picturesque ponds, narrow paths for solitary walks on their premises. For example, there is a famous Ōkuma Garden, which is a large forest with lakes and blossoming flower beds, on the premises of Waseda University.
The whole Japan is densely networked with railways, here you can get easily and quickly to any place in the country. The railway and the entire transport system of Japan is one of the most advanced ones in the world. Foreign students can visit the most beautiful sights of Japan: mountains, castles, Disneyland, gardens, islands, nature reserves and national parks.
Japan is a country with a unique culture and way of life, which is different from European and American one. Here people wake up early and go to bed early, try to respect their relatives and friends, eat healthy food. Applicants from other countries should understand that the local mindset is special. You must not miss classes without a valid reason, and the teacher's authority is indisputable. At the same time, Japanese teachers show great enthusiasm for the learning process and treat each student with respect.
What Categories are the Universities of Japan Subdivided into?
Higher education in Japan is represented by a so-called 'daigaku' — this term refers to both universities and colleges, there are about seven hundreds of them. There are also technical colleges, colleges of technology and junior colleges in Japan. Almost all higher education in Japan is fee-paying, but prices in education institutions are quite affordable.
The proportion of public institutes of higher education in Japan is small: they make up only about ten percent. The rest of universities and colleges are private, but the tuition fee is small.
The universities of Japan are located both in large cities — in Japan they are called ‘central’ — and in the provinces. Most often, foreigners choose universities in Tokyo, which is one of the largest and the most dynamic metropolises in the world.
In the 'city of the future' the most famous and prestigious university of Japan — the University of Tokyo — is situated. It was called Imperial University. Today Tokyo University is related to the group of the so-called former Imperial Universities, which is usually considered to be an analogue of Ivy League. It is also the university with the highest number of international students in the country. First of all, it is known for its advanced laboratories, it is because of them students come from all over the world to study here. Humanities are also a strong point here: it's not a coincidence that two graduates of the University of Tokyo received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and several other graduates have become world-famous writers (Kōbō Abe, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Kenzaburō Ōe). The University of Tokyo is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities.
Waseda University is private, it is also located in Tokyo. The strongest faculty of the university is the faculty of philology. It is this very faculty where Haruki Murakami studied. The political elite of the country also gets their higher education here. The Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, which brings together scientists from fifty countries all over the world, operates also at Waseda University.
The second private prestigious university in Tokyo — Keio University — is strong on various disciplines, especially on political science. Tokyo Institute of Technology is the largest university in its field in the country. It prepares scientists, managers, politicians. Tokyo University of the Arts is well-known all over the world both for its teachers and graduates: among them there are famous filmmakers and directors, musicians and writers.
One of the competitors of the University of Tokyo — Kyoto University — is known for its achievements in physics, mathematics, chemistry. Here, earthquakes are being studied, the university has many patents on and achievements in medicine. Kyoto Seika University is popular with fans of anime and it prepares qualified professionals in this field.
Osaka University in the largest public university in Japan with reference to the number of students. This university is well-known in scientific community, here international research projects are being done. Many scientists, doctors and businessmen, including a founder of Sony Corporation Akio Morita, graduated from this university. Osaka University is filled with international students, as well as Kyushu University located in Fukuoka. Kyushu University is considered to be a multidisciplinary institute of higher education with great research potential.
Among the famous universities of Japan Tohoku University in Sendai, Nagoya University, Gakushūin University in Tokyo should also be mentioned.
The Format of Classes and Features of Japanese Universities
As well as in the majority of countries in the world, studying at Japanese universities leads to a bachelor's degree, then to a master's and a PhD’s degree. On average, it takes 4 years to gain a bachelor's degree, two more years are necessary to get a master's degree. Term papers, diploma and research projects at the first stage of higher education in most universities are not obligatory, they are replaced with reports and tests. In Japan it takes more than one year or two to get a PhD — this degree is less often awarded here than in Europe and the United States. Before getting a PhD degree, young scientists work on scientific projects for 3–6 years.
Strong competition in the labor market is faced not only by universities, but even by Japanese schools: secondary school students and university students try to attend all classes. Some points are given for class attendance. Point-rating system of knowledge assessment is widespread in almost all education institutions.
Unlike education institutions in the United States and European countries, studying at Japanese schools and universities begins in April. But this rule does not apply to all universities: for example, the academic year at some programmes for students from other countries at the University of Tokyo begins in September. Therefore, foreign applicants have to learn in advance the deadlines of the admission campaign in a particular university.
Tuition Fee at Universities in Japan
Depending on the institute of higher education, studying in Japan will cost from 4,000 USD to 7,000 USD per year. Among the most expensive study fields are medicine, engineering, economic and business fields and philological disciplines.
Tokyo is the most expensive city in Japan and one of the most expensive cities in the world. Nevertheless, discounts and benefits are provided for students here. Staying in a student residence is cheaper than renting an apartment — this distinguishes Japan from European countries. Student discounts are valid on modes of transport, in museums, theaters, cinemas, as well as at sports and fitness centers.
By the way, most of the shops in Tokyo and other large cities in Japan work from early morning till late at night, some shops are open around the clock.
Studying and living in small towns in Japan will be cheaper than, for example, in Europe.
The table shows the estimated accommodation and tuition cost per year in Tokyo and Kyoto. These are average figures which are provided to give the most basic information and they can vary depending on the education institution, as well as on the foreign student’s preferences.
Studying at the university
Student residence accommodation in a double room
The Internet and other means of communication
Studying at the university
Student residence accommodation in a double room
The Internet and other means of communication
Prospects for Japanese University Graduates
The Japanese diploma is a sign of quality of education, patience and diligence of its holder. While graduates-residents of Japan have to compete with their peers in the labor market, foreign graduates can find themselves in large international companies, where along with the knowledge of specialization the knowledge of English, Japanese and broad horizons are also required. It can also be stated that foreign graduates from universities in Japan face good career prospects in the world of science.
Interesting Facts About Education in Japan
A judo founder Kanō Jigorō graduated from the University of Tokyo: it is interesting that at first he was a weak young man and began to practice martial arts. As a result, he became a martial arts master.
Sometimes in Japanese schools, points are given not to one student, but to the whole class.
One of the graduates of the faculty of law of Keio private University once decided to study fashion. Today, Yohji Yamamoto is well-known all over the world — a specialist in law has become a world-famous designer of clothes.
A famous filmmaker and director Takeshi Kitano was not on his best behaviour in his youth: he often missed classes at Meiji University in Japan. A future filmmaker studied not badly, but still he was expelled for missing classes: diligence and good attendance at Japanese universities are as important as academic achievements are.
Entry Requirements and the Process of Admission to Universities in Japan
In Japan, a 12-year school education is adopted, so if there is a 11-year school education system in your country, such a 11-year secondary education certificate will not be enough for admission. This necessary year can be done at the university at home, you can also enter the preparatory department at any Japanese university and study here for a year.
The majority of Japanese universities may request the results of a single exam which is done by all Japanese secondary school-leavers. However, in recent years, many education institutions do not impose very strict requirements on foreigners, and now you do not have to take the final test. But it is necessary to confirm your competence in Japanese. The Japanese test, which can be done not only in Japan itself but also in other countries all over the world, is called Nihongo Nōryoku Shiken or Nihon Ryūgaku Shiken. The former checks only the knowledge of Japanese, the latter apart from the language also assesses the basic knowledge of several school disciplines.
To be admitted to the majority of programmes applicants may also be required to present TOEFL or IELTS test results: some lectures can be delivered in English. TOEFL or IELTS test results are obligatory if you apply to master's-degree programmes.
Not all Japanese universities require a certificate confirming applicant’s solvency, motivation and recommendation letters. But these documents sometimes appear in the list of obligatory documents necessary for admission to prestigious universities in Japan.
The local universities admit entrants from the age of 18.