How much does it cost to study at Tohoku University

The tuition fees for four years undergraduate program at Tohoku University is ¥535,800 x 4 = ¥2,143,200. The entrance fee is ¥282,000. This is considerably cheaper when compared to private  universities in Japan. There are no other significant costs that the university charges.

What are the living expenses on average

Sendai is relatively cheap when it comes to renting an apartment. You can easily get an apartment for ¥40,000 – ¥60,000 per month in the downtown area. If you are okay with staying in a place which would take you about 15 minutes train ride one way, you can also find an apartment for ¥25,000 per month.

The combined electricity, water, gas, internet and mobile phone bills on average does not exceed ¥20,000 per month. Winter could be a bit expensive due heating, but otherwise, it is fairly cheap in summer.

My apartment in Sendai is just a 20 minute walk away from main Sendai station and the rent is just ¥37,500 per monthA bus pass in Sendai for using any city bus is about ¥5,500 per month. You can get subway train passes for around ¥8,000 per month. Since Sendai is a relatively small city, people frequently use bicycles or walk from home to campus. There are many students who also use scooters. You must get a driving license in Japan before you start riding a scooter, which is also possible.

Vegetables are expensive in Japan relatively (especially if you are from equatorial countries). Yet, you can get all your food for month in about ¥20,000. This also allows you some space for eating outside at times. Lunch being cheaper, you can find places to eat lunch under ¥800 at restaurants. You can also find cheap dinner places (Saizeriya, Ramen Shops, Soba shops, etc.) under ¥1,000.

In all, you can lead a comfortable life under ¥80,000 per month. You can surely go under this budget or over, depending on your personal lifestyle. (Tip : Cooking on your own is always the cheapest option)

Scholarships provided by University

Tohoku University provides a generous President Fellowship for the students in undergraduate English programs and graduate programs too. This covers complete four years of undergraduate tuition. The way this fellowship works, would be that the university deposits the equivalent tuition fee amount to your bank account at the beginning of the semester and withdraws it again.

Now, if you want to apply for tuition fee waiver, you can do so. If you get, for example, 50% waiver, the university will withdraw only 50% of the amount which it had deposited in your account. You can keep the rest of 50%. Depending on your financial situation and your academic credentials, you are also eligible for 100% waiver.

Scholarships available from government

The most popular government scholarship is the MEXT Scholarship which is about ¥119,000 per month for 4 years in addition to waiving off your tuition fees and entrance fees. This scholarship can be awarded only to international students who are applying from outside of Japan. It is a not a loan and so you do not have to pay back to the government. At graduate level, the amount for this scholarship increases too.

JASSO, a semi-governmental organisation, also provides scholarship of about ¥48,000 per month which can support part of your living expenses.

Scholarships available from private organisations

There are several private organisations that offer scholarships which do not require to be paid back.

  1. Kaneko Foundation offers a scholarship of ¥60,000 per month for one year which also includes an annual trip with the foundation to a place within Japan.
  2. Mitsubishi offers  a scholarship of ¥100,000 per month for international students.
  3. Sato-Yo Foundation offers a scholarship of ¥150,000 per month.
  4. Lotte Foundation offers a scholarship of ¥180,000 per month.

The above listed are only a few organisations. Depending on department and country of origin, there are several other foundations which offer scholarships.

How to get Information about Scholarships

The first point of contact is usually your university as most scholarships channel their information through universities. Yet, you can find an extensive list of available scholarships prepared by JASSO here. This list is the 2018-19 list. A new list is expected to be updated soon.

What details are asked in an average Scholarship application?

Scholarship applications have many differences but there are many similarities. An average application asks for personal details, current course of study, current GPA (calculated at each university according to its own regulations), recommendation letter from your supervisor, and income/expense statement.

Some scholarships also ask certain questions such as your plans after graduation and the objective of your research/stay in Japan. Some scholarships also call for interviews and a panel of selectors ask similar questions.

It is necessary to note here that all scholarships won’t be available in English language. A lot of scholarships expect around JLPT N3 level of Japanese proficiency. This is usually achieved in 1.5 years of regular classroom work and is not particularly challenging.

Selection criteria

The selection criteria for scholarships quite often use a quantitative method of eliminating applications based on GPA. In Tohoku University, your program has to nominate you followed by a nomination from your department and then by the university to the organisation. The organisation then collects this information of all applicants and makes a selection based on their scholarship philosophy/motto.

Few terms and conditions for certain scholarships

It is important to note that some scholarships may ask for an academic report at the end of scholarship term or might not pay the travel expenses for an interview. It is advised that you check these details beforehand.

Try to give some buffer time to your supervisor to write the recommendation letter and to yourself to allow smooth functioning. Sometimes, you may have to re-write the entire application with black pen just because you wrote it with a blue pen. Following the scholarship rules are extremely important.

Wishing all the best for applicants!