What makes or breaks a college application?

This may be a trick question, since there are many factors that influence an admission officer’s interests in an applicant: academic grades, personal essay, interview screening, etc. But one of the very first aspects that an admission officer learns about you is your standardized test scores, and this makes such college entrance examinations an exceptionally important part of your application.

In this article, we will focus on the Waseda University and its standards in regards to their applicants’ SAT and ACT exam scores!

A Brief Introduction to the Waseda University

Founded in 1882 by Okuma Shigenobu, the Waseda University grounds itself in the heart of Tokyo as one of the most prestigious private universities in Japan! In 2019, it was awarded first place for the best private universities in Japan by the QS World University Rankings. Recently, the university established English-based undergraduate degree programs for international students to make the founder’s vision of globalized education into a tangible reality.

Average SAT and ACT Test Scores by Program

Although the admissions office accepts various types of standardized tests that can differ by each country’s education system, in this article we will focus solely on the SAT and ACT that are taken by students in the United States. Without further ado, here are the brief introductions to each English-based undergraduate program and their respective average SAT and ACT test scores!

School of Social Sciences: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Innovation (TAISI)

“There is an old Chinese saying that an average doctor cures the disease, a good doctor cures the person, and a great doctor cures society.  The social sciences are a field that cures society.”

~Waseda University’s School of Social Sciences

The quote above summarizes the main focus of the TAISI Program, established in 2018 to nurture international students into socially innovative leaders of the global society. In addition to the mandated “Foundations in Social Sciences” courses that cover the basics of this field, students are able to tailor their curriculum based on their interests. Interdisciplinary fields of study include Community and Social Development, Peace Building and International Cooperation, Economic and Environmental Sustainability, and Social Organizations and Working. Such a multi-perspective approach to education allows students to observe and solve worldly problems from unique angles in their future workplaces!

Here is the average test score for the 2019 admission cycle.

New SAT (total)1438
ACT (composite)NA

Unfortunately, the average ACT score was not given by the admissions office. As a reference, scores of 1420-1440 on the SAT converts to a 32 on the ACT.

School of Political Science and Economics (SPSE)

Held in the newly renovated Building 3 of the Waseda Main Campus, the SPSE program welcomes international students to study specialized politics and economics under one of the best faculties in the university. Courses include those in both subjects, such as mathematics, statistics, game theory, experimental methods, network analysis, and programming. Graduates can receive either a BA in Political Science, in Economics, or in Global Political Economy, and the curriculum and course work will be manipulated to fit the criteria required by each program. Most classes are conducted as discussion-based seminars, where students interactively learn in small groups of 5 to 15 students with world-renowned professors from Oxford, UCLA, MIT, and other Ivy League and globally recognized institutions!

Here are the three-year averages for standardized test scores of successful applicants from 2017 to 2019.

New SAT (total)1426.0
ACT (composite)31.4

School of International Liberal Studies (SILS)

In 2004, SILS was established with an original concept and curriculum designed to nurture students who have broad educational experiences, are capable of communicating in English – the international common language – and aspire to realize a free and fair society. The curriculum includes fundamental statistics, classes for a second language, presentation and communication classes, and other interactive and interdisciplinary global studies. Additionally, students are encouraged to take a year-long study abroad program in one of its many partner universities all over the world!

Here are the three-year averages for standardized test scores of successful applicants from 2017 to 2019.

New SAT (total)1300~1400
ACT (composite)NA

While the official average ACT scores were not posted by the school, an SAT score of 1300~1400 converts to an ACT score of approximately 28~30.

School of Culture, Media and Society Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program (JCulP)

The Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program (JCulP) was established by the Waseda University’s School of Culture, Media, and Society in 2017. The program trains English-speaking specialists in Japanese culture from a global perspective to foster individuals who can spread their knowledge to the rest of the world. Some examples of coursework include analyzing Japanese history, comparing traditional and popular culture, studying the contemporary Japanese society, and engaging in other eye-opening fieldwork activities. Classes are very close-knit, admitting only 15 students per year!

Here is the average test score for the 2019 admission cycle.

New SAT (total)1360
ACT (composite)NA

1360 on the SAT converts to a 30 on the ACT.

Faculty of Science and Engineering

The Waseda University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering has three divisions of English-based degree programs. While each program has its own curriculum and admission procedures, average test scores were given only for the faculty as a whole, not for the individual schools.

School of Fundamental Science and Engineering

This English-based undergraduate program develops grounded knowledge in science and engineering in conjunction with an understanding of the humanities and social sciences. Coursework includes classes on the basis of science and technology, mathematical sciences, computer sciences, materials science, electronic and photonic sciences, and intermedia engineering.

School of Creative Science and Engineering

In addition to the fundamental sciences, this program incorporates creative studies in environmental, civil, and modern mechanical engineering. The goal is to create a collaborative environment for international students with varying experiences and ideas to foster a creative learning space.

School of Advanced Science and Engineering

The program in the School of Advanced Science and Engineering aims to foster students who can develop cutting edge technology based on the natural sciences. Courses include applied chemistry and physics, medical biosciences, electrical engineering, and other advanced science courses.

The average test scores for all programs at the Faculty of Science and Engineering as of 2019 were as follows.

New SAT (total)1350~1450
ACT (composite)NA
SAT Math II Subject Test761.5
SAT Physics Subject Test737.9
SAT Chemistry Subject Test714.1

The 1350~1450 average SAT score converts roughly to a 29~32 on the ACT scale. In addition to the standard examinations, applicants must also submit three subject test scores administered by the SAT test providers. All subject tests are scored out of 800.

Using the Scores to Your Advantage

On a personal note, I was accepted into the TAISI program in the 2019 admission cycle for the September entry. When I first started preparing for my college applications, one of the first things that I did was to research each of my prospective program’s average SAT and ACT scores. Since my goal as an applicant was to STAND OUT from my other competitors, I set my goals a couple of points higher than the given average. While this tactic was most likely not the only factor that helped me get accepted, I believe that it created a positive portrayal of my academic skills to the admission officers!

If your college application could be personified, then the standardized test scores would be your face. It is the first impression of you that the admission officer encounters and its image lingers in the back of his mind as he scans the remainder of your application. Of course, a perfect exam score does not necessarily guarantee an acceptance letter, just as a handsome face does not necessarily make you an attractive individual. Nevertheless, boosting those test scores will only get you that much closer to becoming a Waseda Bear… so why not try it!


“About Us.” Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/top/en/about.

“Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program.” School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/flas/cms/en/applicants-2/admission/jculp/.

“School of Social Sciences.” School of Social Sciences, Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/fsss/sss/en/.

“早稲田大学 国際教養学部.” School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/fire/sils/en/.

“早稲田大学 政治経済学部.” School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/fpse/pse/en/.“早稲田大学 理工学術院.” Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/fsci/en/.