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Planning studies in Japan

Japanese Educational System

In Japan, higher education starts upon the completion of 12 years of education: elementary education (6 years of elementary school) and secondary education (3 years of lower secondary school and 3 years of upper secondary school). There are 5 types of higher education institutions that international students can be admitted to, which are 1) Colleges of technology, 2) Professional training colleges (postsecondary course of specialized training colleges), 3) Junior colleges, 4) Universities (undergraduate) and 5) Graduate schools. Depending on the founding bodies, these higher education institutions are categorized into three types: national, local public and private.

Japanese Educational System
  • After completing your major at a junior college or college of technology recognized by the National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation (NIAD-UE), you can obtain your "bachelor's degree" if you pass the examination set by the NIAD-UE. Please check for further details from the school you are applying to.

Degrees and titles you can obtain and the required study periods

Program Degrees or Titles Required Study Period
Graduate School Doctoral Program*1 Doctoral degree 5 years
Master's Program Master's degree 2 years
Professional Degree Program Master's degree (professional degree) 2 years
Juris Doctor (professional degree) 3 years
Master of Education (professional degree) 2 years
University (Undergraduate) General faculties and faculty of pharmacy (4-year program) Bachelor's degree 4 years
Faculties of medicine, dentistry, veterinary and pharmacy (6-year program) 6 years
Professional and Vocational university Bachelor's degree (professional) 4 years
Junior College Associate degree 2 or 3 years
Professional and Vocational Junior College Associate degree (professional) 2 or 3 years
College of Technology Associate degree 5 years or 5 year and 6 months. *2
Professional Training College Specialized training colleges postsecondary course Diploma 2 years or more
Advanced Diploma 4 years or more

*1 Graduate school doctoral programs are sometimes divided into the first phase (two years) and second phase (three years).The required period of undergraduate study in medicine, dentistry and veterinary and certain pharmaceutical programs is six years, and the duration of their graduate (doctoral) program is four year.

*2 The required period of study at a college of technology is normally five years, yet international students are accepted from the third year.

Most higher educational institutions in Japan set their academic year from April to March of the following year. Many higher educational institutions adopt the semester system, and most start their academic year in April, although there are also some that begin in autumn.

The long holiday seasons are usually in the summer (end of July ~early September), winter (end of December ~early January) and spring (February ~March).

Number of higher education institutions
National Local public Private Total

Graduate schools










Junior colleges - 17 306 323
Colleges of technology 51 3 3 57
Professional training colleges 9 184 2,586 2,779
Data from the 2020 School Basic Survey by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
※ The Open University of Japan is categorized as a private university.