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) vocational schools (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.
- 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||Degree/Title||Required Study Period||Number of Earned Credits|
|Graduate School||Doctoral Program*1||Doctoral degree||5 years*2||30 credits or more (including credits earned in Master's Program)|
|Master's Program||Master's degree||2 years*2||30 credits or more|
|Professional Degree Program||Master's degree (professional degree)||2 years||30 credits or more|
|Juris Doctor (professional degree)||3 years||93 credits or more|
|Master of Education (professional degree)||2 years||45 credits or more|
|University (Undergraduate)||General faculties and faculty of pharmacy (4-year program)||Bachelor's degree||4 years||124 credits or more|
|Faculties of medicine, dentistry, veterinary and pharmacy (6-year program)||6 years||Medicine and dentistry: 188 credits or more
Veterinary: 182 credits or more
Pharmacy: 186 credits or more
|Professional and Vocational University||Bachelor's degree (professional)||4 years||124 credits or more|
|Junior College||Associate degree||2 years or 3 years||2-year program: 62 credits or more
3-year program: 93 credits or more
|Professional and Vocational Junior College||Associate degree (professional)||2 years or 3 years||2-year program: 62 credits or more
3-year program: 93 credits or more
|College of Technology||Associate degree||5 years or 5 and a half years*3|
|Vocational School||Specialized training colleges post-secondary course||Advanced Diploma||4 years|
|Diploma||2 to 3 years|
- 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 years.
- Master's and doctoral programs list the standard number of years.
- 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 institutions use the semester system. The long holiday seasons are usually in the summer (late July to early September), winter (late December to early January) and spring (February to March). In Japan, most schools admit students in April, but some schools have an autumn admission system.
|Colleges of technology||51||3||3||57|
|Professional training colleges||8||180||2,533||2,721|
- About the Japanese education system (National Information Center for Academic Recognition Japan (NIC-Japan) website)
- Basic Information on Higher Education and Quality Assurance in Japan (National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education)
- Outline of the National Universities(MEXT)
- Promotion of the Private Universities（MEXT)
- Outline of the Public Universities（MEXT)
- Outline of the Junior Colleges（MEXT)
- Promotion of the Specialized Training Colleges and Miscellaneous School（MEXT)
- Outline of the Colleges of Technology（MEXT)