Planning to Study in Japan

Types of Schools

Universities (Undergraduate) and Junior Colleges

Undergraduate level university programs and junior colleges constitute the core of higher education institutions and generally take four years to complete (six years for medical, dental, veterinary, and a number of pharmaceutical programs), whereas junior college programs take two or three years to complete.

University graduates are awarded a Bachelor's degree, whereas graduates of junior colleges are awarded an Associate's degree. While many schools admit international students to degree-earning programs, there are also schools that accept short-term students such as auditing students, students taking classes without enrolling in the school or earning course credit, as well as exchange students.

The academic year starts in April, but some universities offer fall admission in September or October.

Characteristics of Japanese Universities and Junior Colleges

The different types of universities and junior colleges include national, public, and private.

The number of private institutions is greater, as there are currently 86 national, 101 public, and 620 private undergraduate level universities, and 14 public and 295 private junior colleges.

Including the admission and tuition fees, the total cost of the first year is approximately 820,000 yen for national universities, 930,000 yen for public universities, and 1,100,000 yen for private universities (excluding medical, dental, and pharmaceutical programs).

The tuition for universities in the United States amounts to 3,600,000-4,900,000 yen (using the calculation 1 USD = 130 yen), and British universities charge approximately 1,800,000-3,600,000 yen per academic year (using the calculation 1 GBP = 150 yen), so comparatively speaking, the tuition for Japanese universities is much cheaper.

Classes at Japanese universities and junior colleges are generally held in Japanese, however, in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of university (Bachelor's) degree programs taught entirely in English.

In order to be accepted into a Japanese university or junior college program that is taught in Japanese, individuals must have passed the N1 or N2 JLPT examination in addition to scoring at least 250 points on the Japanese section of the EJU.

Admission Requirements

In order to be admitted to Japanese universities or junior colleges, one the following conditions must be satisfied:

  1. Individuals who completed 12 years of formal school education
  2. Individuals who, after finishing their high school education abroad (less than 12 years of formal school education) completed the designated university preparatory course*1
  3. Individuals who have a foreign university admission certification, such as the International Baccalaureate, Abitur, Baccalaureat, or GCE A-Level.
  4. Individuals above the age of 18 who passed their region's high school equivalency exam that is equivalent to 12 years of formal education (individuals who completed less than 12 years of formal schooling must have also completed a university preparatory course or course at a training facility)
    *Please consult your country/region's embassy to confirm whether the high school equivalency exam you took is equivalent to 12 years of formal education.
  5. Individuals completing at least 11 years of coursework overseas, completing education at schools corresponding to a senior high school and otherwise satisfying the requirements.
  6. Individuals who completed their formal education at a foreign high school in Japan (individuals who completed less than 12 years of formal schooling must have also completed a university preparatory course or research course)
  7. Individuals who completed their formal education at an overseas educational institution officially recognized as equivalent to a high school
  8. Individuals completing 12 years of coursework at an educational institution certified by an international accreditation institution (WASC, CIS (ECIS),A CSI, NEASC).
  9. An individual who has passed the high school equivalency examination (individuals under the age of 18 will be considered as having passed the examination the day after they turn 18 years old)
  10. Individuals who completed their education at a special needs secondary education institution or College of Technology (individual must have completed 12 years of formal education)
  11. Individuals completing their secondary education at a designated professional training college.
  12. Individuals who completed their formal education at a school under Japan's old education system
  13. Individual who, on the basis of the university's admission requirements, qualified for the university's individual selection process

*Please consult your country/region's Japanese embassy to determine the number of years of formal education your schooling/curriculum is equivalent to.

*1 University preparatory course: In order to be admitted to a Japanese university, an applicant must have completed at least 12 years of formal education. However, in some countries or regions, education through high school lasts less than 12 years. In this case, students must complete MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)'s designated "university preparatory course for admission to university" in order to be eligible to apply for Japanese universities.

Application Materials/Entrance Examinations

In many cases, the following application materials are required. The necessary application documents differ by school, so please check the requirements for the schools you plan to apply for. Some schools may also ask for Japanese or English translations.

  • Application form (designated by the university)
  • High school graduation diploma
  • High school transcript
  • Letter of recommendation from the principal or a teacher of the high school from which the applicant graduated
  • Certificate that indicates Japanese and English proficiency
  • Other

Many schools conduct entrance examinations for foreigners (international students).
There are also schools that conduct an evaluation of application documents and academic knowledge, an interview, or the EJU examination.

University Admissions Guide for Privately Financed International Students

University Admissions Guide for Privately Financed International Students

This is a guidebook containing valuable information on university entrance examinations and the number of successful international student applicants.

Edited and published by the Asian Students Cultural Association

What are Professional and Vocational Universities and Professional and Vocational Junior Colleges?

They are universities and junior colleges where students can acquire the knowledge, theory, and practical skills necessary to enter a specific profession. The curriculum ties together academic knowledge from school with actual industries and the regional community, so in addition to attending lectures, these schools offer opportunities for hands-on learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

Graduates are awarded the either a Bachelor's degree (professional) or an Associate's degree (professional).

Degree Programs in English

With the globalization of Japanese universities, universities and graduate schools have created degree programs that allow students to earn degrees solely in English, where Japanese language study is not a barrier. However, no such programs exist at technical colleges and vocational schools.

Guideline of Required English Proficiency

University (Undergraduate) 71-80 5.5-6

Please use the following Excel to check the degree programs available in English.

* This data was collected through a survey of universities and junior colleges in May 2021.
* For further inquiries and the latest information, please directly consult each school.

Comments from past student

Even if you enter a course that allows you to obtain a degree only in English, it will be easier to live in Japan and find a job if you study daily Japanese conversation and the written language. Also, some countries require previous Japanese language study to obtain a visa, so check with your school for application documents.

University Transfer System

When a junior college graduate, etc. enrolls in a four-year university to complete their bachelor's degree (often as a second or third year student), it is called transferring.

Although many universities accept transfer students, they do not necessarily accept transfer students every year.

Furthermore, graduating from a junior college does not always mean that the credits you took will transfer over to the university.

In order to transfer to a university (bachelor's) program, individuals must satisfy one of the following conditions:

  • Individuals who graduated from a junior college or technical
  • Individuals who completed a specialized program at a vocational school
  • Individuals who completed a program at the Japanese branch of a foreign university that was approved by the Minister of Education
  • Individuals who completed a program at a secondary school approved by the Minister of Education

It is difficult to find information regarding university transfer systems, so please contact your preferred school well in advance.

* This data is as of 2020.
* For further inquiries and the latest information, please directly consult each university.

Using the following search system, you can search for schools and courses with bachelor's degree transfer student programs that privately-financed international students are eligible to apply for.

Find Schools

What would you like to study (what would you like to major in)?
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Using the search system below, you can search for schools based on your preferences, such as the field of study or location of the school.

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