Studying in Japan: All You Need to Know

Global Ed

The home of the bullet trains, Nintendo, karaoke and ramen, Japan is also effectively making its mark in the sphere of global education.

Here’s everything you need to know, if you are looking at education opportunities in Japan.

We’ll look at:

  • Japan: An Emerging Global Ed Destination
  • Top Disciplines to Consider
  • Requirements, Eligibilities and Other Technicalities
  • Getting a Japanese Visa
  • Scholarships
Here's why you should consider Japan for global ed…
  • According to OECD, Japan has an excellent higher education system and ranks it first in mathematics.
  •  41 Japanese universities are featured in the top-1000 according to the QS World Rankings. Here are the top 5:
University QS Rankings 2021 QS Asia University Rankings 2021
The University of Tokyo 24 15
Kyoto University 38 17
Tokyo Institute of Technology 56 20
Osaka University 72 22
Tohoku University 79 23

Updated table with 2021 Asia rankings

  • Rise in the number of courses conducted entirely in English.
  • The average national (monthly) living expense for an international student in Japan is estimated at JPY 89,000 (approx. INR 63,000)
  • It is the ninth most peaceful country in the world.
  • The interest in Japanese culture and society

You can also follow this link for the complete article.

Top field choices to consider
1. Engineering and Technology

Japan and technological innovations are synonymous with each other.  The country is famous for some of world leading tech companies. As of April 2020, Kyoto University of Advanced Sciences established its first all-English multidisciplinary faculty to teach the entire gamut of sub-disciplines under engineering. Here are the basics that you need to know if you want to pursue engineering in Japan.


  • University of Tokyo, Tokyo – World Rank 20
  • Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo – World Rank 34
  • Kyoto University, Kyoto – World Rank 57
  • Tohuku University, Sendai City –  World Rank 96
  • Osaka University, Osaka City – World Rank 106

(Discipline-wise QS Rankings)

2. Liberal Arts

Moving towards the other end of the spectrum, Japan also has thriving liberal arts programs that attract students from across the globe. If literature, history, international relations, culture human rights and philosophy are some of the domains that excite you, then it is worth exploring options in these top-tier universities:

In addition to these, if you have ever envisioned yourself as a teacher, it is certainly worth exploring education as a domain. Teachers, especially those who can teach in English are some of the highest paid in the job, even by global standards. The University of Tokyo is renowned for its curriculum on pedagogy and education.

3. Management

A degree in management or an MBA from any of the universities in Japan will open career doors for you across the island country. Businesses/ companies there are open to hiring foreign nationals as long as you can demonstrate a good understanding of the Japanese culture (which is something you will be immersed in during your stint as a student).

  • University of Tokyo, Tokyo – World Rank 34
  • Kyoto University, Kyoto – World Rank 83
  • Hitotsubashi University, Kunitachi City – World Rank 101
  • Waseda University, Tokyo – World Rank 101
4. Senmon Gakko

If a traditional university setup is not your cup of tea, do not be disheartened. Japan is also known for Senmon Gakko or vocational schools that focus on practical and specialised training. You can learn culture-specific and super-specialised skill sets such as  manga, design, anime, music, dance, etc. Agriculture, nursing, education and social welfare are some of the more popular vocational courses.

Typically, a Senmon Gakko program lasts 2 years, while an advanced programme can last three years. Students can transfer to a university after the diploma. If you have signed up for the advanced program, at its completion, you become eligible to apply to graduate schools.

  • For undergrad/ senmon gakko courses: 12 years of schooling and an accredited high school diploma.
  • If you are applying at the graduate level: a Bachelor’s degree or any international equivalent.
  • TOEFL or IELTS, if English is not your native language
  • JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), if any of the courses you are applying to is being taught in Japanese

[While an increasing number of courses are bring taught in English, proficiency in Japanese will work to your advantage, both in terms of options and experiencing the local culture.]

[EJU includes tests in these subjects: Japanese as a Foreign Language, Science, Japan and the World and Mathematics. You select subjects depending on the needs of your university.]

  • A valid passport
  • A statement of finance, proving your ability to afford tuition, cost of living, insurance and so on
  • Academic essay, letters of recommendation, transcripts and the usual
Student Visa

When you get selected, your university will apply for a “Certificate of Eligibility” with the Immigration Bureau and send it to you. You apply for the visa by presenting the CoE to the embassy. On reaching Japan, you will be given the status of “Student”. The duration of the visa is dependent on the course you are enrolled in and is marked in your CoE.

Working while Studying

However, the Student visa does not permit you to work. If you are planning on working part-time, then you approach the regional immigration bureau and apply for a permission to engage in activities beyond the purview of your visa. If this is a decision you have made already, then you can even apply for this in the immigration counter as you are entering Japan. This will allow you to work part-time. It is limited to 28 hours/week during school weeks and 40 hours/ week during semester breaks

Employment Visa

As great as these opportunities are, you may need to look at scholarships. Here are some to explore.

Scholarships in Japan
Options Provider Eligibility Additional Information
MEXT Scholarship Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) 7 categories with different eligibilities:

  • Young Leader Program
  • Research Students
  • Teacher Training Students
  • Undergraduate Students
  • College of Technology Students
  • Specialised Training College
  • Japanese Study Students
One of the biggest category of students available to international students
JASSO Scholarship Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO) Full-time UG/ PG students in university or Japanese Language programs For privately financed international students
i.e., students already accepted to a Japanese educational institutions
From Local Governments. and International Associations Offered by smaller districts/ Prefectures To attract eligible students to smaller towns To attract eligible students to smaller towns
From Private Foundations Private organisations/ Universities you have applied to
  • Can be program/ discipline specific.
  • Can be applied to after beginning studies in Japan
  • Involves a ton of research from your end but worth looking into.
From Language Schools and Universities Private organisations/ Universities you have applied to

An opportunity to experience life and education in Japan will certainly give you a flavour of what it is to be a global resident. With its beautiful blend of tradition and modernity, technology and culture, Japan is an opportunity waiting to be explored.

At the end of your course, assuming you have decided to stay back in Japan and have found an opportunity, you will have to change the status of your residence from “Student” to “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/ International Services” or any of the other categories of work visas. This is also done through the Regional Immigration Bureau. Make sure you are following all the right procedures for this.

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