Founded in 1869 as a private academy and formally granted the status of the university in 1922, Ritsumeikan University is a private university located in southwest Japan, with campuses in Kyoto, Osaka, and Shiga prefectures. Ritsumeikan University’s main campus location in Kyoto Prefecture and its surroundings grants students not only the opportunity to experience some of the oldest and most culturally-rich parts of Japan but also to conveniently access other cities of different atmospheres and environments, such as Kobe or Hiroshima, should they choose to do so.

The city is easily accessible by Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train), with many trains going to Tokyo and other major cities every day. Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, has over 1,000 years of history, and features a dense concentration of temples and shrines – over 2,000! The city is also famed for its 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as beautiful natural surroundings.

Kiyomizudera during fall illuminations
Kiyomizudera during fall illuminations

Ritsumeikan University Ranking 

Ranked 23rd in the Japan University Rankings 2018, Ritsumeikan University has also been selected in 2014 for the Top Global University Project by MEXT – an effort to internationalize Japanese universities through collaborations with prestigious overseas universities and university reforms.

As of May 2018, Ritsumeikan University is home to 32,600 undergraduate students and 3,228 graduate students. Of these, the total amount of international students is 2,159. There are 1,281 international undergraduate students, and 878 graduate students.

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With four campuses located in different areas around central Japan, among some of the most beautiful scenery to be found, studying at Ritsumeikan University gives you plenty of amazing options to choose from. Here is a quick rundown of the characteristics of the different campuses:

Ritsumeikan University Kinugasa Campus

The beautiful scenery of Kinkakuji also known as "Golden Pavilion"
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

The Kinugasa Campus is wonderfully situated close to the famed historic temples of Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, Ninnaji, and Tojin. Correspondingly, this campus focuses on subjects in the social sciences and humanities. This campus also features the Kyoto Museum for World Peace, Ritsumeikan University – the first peace museum in the world to be established by a university.

There are also three dormitories on this campus aimed at helping international students get used to life in Japan – International House Taishogun, International House Tokiwa, and International House Utano. All the campuses are located conveniently close to the Kinusaga Campus and feature bilingual resident mentors who can help international students navigate everyday difficulties.

Ritsumeikan Suzaku Campus

Also located in the city of Kyoto, this campus is a graduate-level focused facility – being home to the School of Law, as well as the Graduate School of Management and the Graduate School of Public Policy.

Ritsumeikan University Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC)

The Biwako-Kusatsu Campus is located in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture. This campus has a focus on the physical sciences and technology, which is why its location in Kusatsu is excellent – Kusatsu City is home to many companies such as Panasonic, Fujitech, and Murata Manufacturing.

The beautiful campus of Ritsumeikan University in Shiga
Ritsumeikan campus in Shiga

There is also a dormitory for international students located five minutes by foot from the Biwako-Kusatsu campus. Similar to other university dormitories, this dormitory features 24-hour English-speaking management, as well as bilingual resident mentors.

Ritsumeikan University Osaka Ibaraki Campus (OIC)

The newest of the Ritsumeikan University campuses, the Osaka Ibaraki Campus is home to three colleges such as the College of Business Administration, College of Policy Science, and similarly-focused four Graduate Schools such as the Graduate School of Management. This campus is located in the southern half of Ibaraki city – a city sandwiched between Kyoto and Osaka.

This campus also houses the newest international dormitory of Ritsumeikan University – the OIC International University. The dormitory is located 10 minutes by bicycle and 18 minutes by foot from the OIC campus.

Degrees offered in English

Ritsumeikan University features a number of programs for international students, including programs conducted entirely in English for those who are (at the point of admission) unable to use Japanese.


Ritsumeikan University offers undergraduate programs in English at three of its campuses – Kinugasa Campus, Osaka Ibaraki Campus (OIC) and the Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC). Some popular examples are:

  1. College of International Relations, Global Studies Major
  2. College of Policy Science, Community, and Regional Policy Studies Major
  3. College of Information Science and Engineering, Information Systems Science and Engineering Course

At the graduate level, Ritsumeikan University offered a wide variety of programs in English across all of its campuses. Some examples are:


  1. Master’s Program in Economic Development
  2. International Program for Science and Engineering
  3. Master’s Program in International Relations
  4. Master’s Program in Policy Science


  1. International Program for Science and Engineering
  2. Doctoral Program in Policy Science
  3. Doctoral Program in Management of Technology
  4. Doctoral Program in International Relations

International student applying for Ritsumeikan University

Japanese Language Programs

Learning the Japanese Language may not be a necessary life skill to survive in Japan, but having a good grasp of it will enable students to live a much more convenient and stress-free life. Ritsumeikan University offers a number of Japanese Language program to conveniently help international students not only gain a new professional skill but also to facilitate their transition to life in Japan.

Japanese Language Intensive Classes – Summer and Winter Course Options

These bi-annual courses are targeted at undergraduate or graduate students of Ritsumeikan University with minimal knowledge of the Japanese language. The intensive classes are held every weekday in two sessions throughout winter and summer respectively, with each session lasting 50 minutes. Do note however that students must at least know how to read hiragana and katakana, and that the classes are conducted at a cost. In addition to learning the Japanese language, this course also offers Japanese studies – introductions to Japanese culture.

Intensive Japanese Language Track (IJL)

The Intensive Japanese Language Track is an intensive small-classed (10-15 students) Japanese language course offered for international students who are not currently enrolled in Ritsumeikan University. The track covers a range of skill levels from Introductory (no experience in the Japanese Language) to Advanced (Career Japanese). Prior to entering the program, students have to take a Japanese language proficiency test to determine their class placement. Do note that admission requirements for the IJL track include either being enrolled at an institution of higher education for at least one year prior to the program’s commencement or having graduated from an institution of higher education.

Scholarship Content

Undergraduate Scholarships

Tuition Reduction Scheme

Ritsumeikan University offers a special RU Tuition Reduction Scheme for international students under which students who hold the status of residence of “student”. While studying at Ritsumeikan University recipients will be guaranteed a minimum of 20% tuition reduction. More outstanding applicants have the opportunity to receive 50% or 100% tuition reductions. Do note that this reduction is guaranteed only for the first year as subsequent awards are dependent on students’ grades of the previous year of study.

This scholarship is only available to students who have been accepted into Ritsumeikan University, and no separate application is necessary at the time of the admission application to Ritsumeikan University. Only subsequent renewal of this reduction requires an independent application – the details of which students should check from the Ritsumeikan University Financial Aid webpage for the most updated details.

Master’s and Doctoral Scholarships

Ritsumeikan University Graduate Schools also offer a number of scholarships and grants – for example:

Seiseki-Yushusha (Academic Excellence) Scholarship

(For 1st year of enrollment)

  • Outstanding doctoral, master’s or professional degree program students
  • Amount: ¥50,000 – ¥250,000 stipend per semester
  • Duration: first and second semesters

Kenyu-Shorei Scholarship

(Prize Fellowship for Doctoral Degree Students)

  • Outstanding doctoral students (year 3 or above of an Integrated Doctoral Program or 4-year Doctoral Program)
  • 50% to 100% reduction in tuition