How will my university help me while abroad? When contemplating studying at a Japanese university, there are many things that one needs to consider. It is particularly important for students who are coming from another country to be supported during their time abroad. Because different universities have different resources available for its international students, it can be tricky to figure out which one is the best for you. A comparison of these resources among some of the most renowned Japanese universities for international students has been made below.

What are considered resources?

Resources are ways that a university supports students that is inherent within the school. For example, this can either be something directly provided by the university, or it is ingrained within its culture or student population.

The following is the list of criteria used in this article. They were considered to be extremely helpful indicators that a school has more support available for international students.

  • Number of International Students
  • Academic Programs in English
  • Japanese Language Classes
  • Housing options for International Students
  • International student services
  • Career Services

While such a compilation can be helpful, it is very important to establish what is most valuable for you. I recommend trying the following exercise:

  1. Take out a notebook and flip to a blank page, or open a document on your computer.
  2. Spend 3 minutes brainstorming what resources a Japanese university can provide that would improve your experience abroad.
    • Here is a list to get started:
      • Academic programs
        • Major of choice?
        • Programs in English?
        • Japanese language support?
      • Housing options
        • Dormitories?
        • Off-campus support?
      • Career services
        • Resources for international students seeking jobs?
        • Career forums?
        • Internship opportunities?
      • Extracurricular options
        • International student organizations?
        • International support group?
  3. After considering some of these things, try to rank the qualities that are most important to you.

Having a profile of what traits your ideal school would have allows you to make an informed decision. It will also help you identify what is most important for you when choosing a school. To maximize your time while in Japan and get as much out of it as possible, it is best to choose a school whose profile matches what you are looking for.

Kyoto University

Image Credit to KATSURA Roen

Number of International Students

There are 1,971 international students in total (8% of all students). 240 are undergraduate students and 1,731 are graduate students.

Academic Programs in English

The following are the top 5 faculties that are currently accepting international students:

  1. Engineering
  2. Integrated Human Studies & Human Environmental Studies
  3. Agriculture
  4. Economics
  5. Informatics

Note that most students are graduate level students.

Japanese Language Classes

Other than classes for students in English-Taught Degree Programs, all classes are taught in Japanese. Kyoto University offers Japanese language classes through the The Education Center for Japanese Language and Culture of the Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS). The university recommends that prospective students take classes at a Japanese language school prior to enrollment in order to enrich their experience while studying at Kyoto University.

Housing Options for International Students

Kyoto University offers housing through the Kyoto University International Houses. There are 7 accommodations for international students, with 2 new houses recently opened in October of 2019. Apartments are another common living accommodation for international students. Kyoto University recommends visiting the Kyoto University Co-op as well as real estate agencies after arriving in Japan.

International Student Services

Kyoto University has an international student tutor system, which is designed to provide academic and social support for students. Undergraduate students are paired with a graduate student tutor from the same school or program and can come to them with any questions regarding class material or living. There is also the student lounge KI-ZU-NA, which is a location specifically designed as a welcoming environment for international and local students.

Career Services

The Kyoto University General Student Support Center’s Career Support Office can help students with suggestions for career development and assist with the job hunting process.

University of Tokyo

Image Credit to Dick Thomas Johnson

Number of International Students

University of Tokyo has 3,232 undergraduate and graduate international students (11% of all students).

Academic Programs in English

Many programs are available for both undergraduate and graduate students. However, most English programs are graduate school programs.

Japanese Language Classes

The Center for Japanese Education is the primary school through which Japanese language education is held.

Housing Options for International Students

Several residence halls are available for international students and are run by the University of Tokyo. These are called the UTokyo Residence Halls. Applications to live in these halls opens several times a year. Due to the limited capacity, less than 30% of students can find housing here.

Private apartments are the most popular choice for student housing. Around 80% of international students find housing in apartments. The University of Tokyo’s website has some information on how to secure such housing, but note that it can be challenging to find such help on one’s own.

International Student Services

The International Student Support Room (here) has counseling services specifically for international students. Its resources also include career support and a language exchange program. Overall, it has very comprehensive services for international students.

Career Services

The Career Support Office provides many resources for international students. These include job hunting materials, employment information, and career counseling.

Osaka University

Number of International Students

There are 2,594 international students studying at Osaka University (making up around 10% of the total student population).

Academic Programs in English

Osaka University is a part of Global 30, which is a project aimed at making it easier for international students to study in Japan. Part of this project’s aims are to make programs that are taught in English in the hopes to recruit international students and faculty. In response to the program, Osaka University has developed a few science programs in English, both undergraduate (2 programs) and graduate (3 programs).

Japanese Language Classes

Japanese language classes are provided through the Japanese Language Education program at Osaka University. These classes are a part of the International Student Center. There are five specific programs for students who are hoping to learn Japanese.

  1. For Japanese Government Scholarship Students: a six-month intensive Japanese Language Program
  2. For international students (short-term, graduate, and research students): Elective Japanese Language Program
  3. For undergraduate students: Japanese Subjects and Freshman Seminars in the Liberal Arts and Sciences
  4. Japanese for KOSMOS (Korean Students of Science Major at Osaka University with the Special Scholarship Program)
  5. ICHO Japanese Language Program for Spouses of International Researchers

Housing Options for International Students

There are quite a few living styles available for students at Osaka University. Firstly are the student residences. These are housing options owned by Osaka University that are reserved for international students. International researchers can also live in some of these houses; one house is dedicated for short-term, 60 day international researchers.

Student dormitories are another option for students. These are also provided by Osaka University, and are designed to be more economical than the student residences. There are 454 total residents, and applications can be made twice a year. Osaka University Co-op also assists students with finding private apartments.

International Student Services

Osaka University has the International Student Center. It has two different domains: Japanese Language Education and the Student Exchange and Advising Division. The former provides language classes, while the latter organizes events to foster camaraderie among both local and international students. There is also the Center for Japanese Language and Culture (CJLC), which creates opportunities for international students to study Japanese. It also provides mental health counselling for students. Furthermore, the Advising Room for International Students assists with academic advising for students from various schools and programs.

Career Services

Osaka University’s Campus Life and Career Support Division has a variety of career services available for students. These include career counseling, job hunting assistance, and employment information.

International Christian University (ICU)

Image Credits to John Paul Antes

Number of International Students

There are around 300 international students currently studying at the International Christian University (10% of the student population).

Academic Programs in English

ICU is a liberal arts university which offers many classes in English or Japanese. Some classes are taught in both languages. Around 30% of the classes are taught in English, so students need to take Japanese classes to obtain enough units to graduate.

Japanese Language Classes

One of ICU’s primary philosophies is to produce scholars who are bilingual in both Japanese and English. Both languages are official languages of the school, and as such, a goal of the school is to become proficient in one’s target language (English for Japanese nationals, Japanese for international students). Japanese language classes at ICU are very accommodating for international students, and support students from all levels of proficiency.

Housing options for International Students

ICU dormitories are located on-campus, which is convenient for those who are worried about a potentially long commute time to get to class. Dormitories can house around 800 students, or 25% of the ICU population. Dormitories are mixed with both international and local Japanese students, making for a good opportunity to meet Japanese peers.

International student services

Most services that the school provides are also available in English and as such, there is no specific international student service center. ICU mixes its international and national students to create a more cohesive student body.

Career Services

ICU provides on campus career support, which includes counselling, career fairs, alumni support, and more (link).

Waseda University

Image Credit to XIIIfromTOKYO

Number of International Students

There are 6,124 international students studying at Waseda University, which is around 12% of the student population.

Academic Programs in English

Waseda University has many English-based undergraduate and graduate programs. There are seven undergraduate schools that offer English-taught programs, including:

  • School of Political Science and Economics
  • School of Social Sciences Transnational and Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Innovation
  • School of International Liberal Studies
  • School of Culture, Media and Society Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program
  • School of Fundamental Science and Engineering
  • School of Creative Science and Engineering
  • School of Advanced Science and Engineering

There are 14 graduate schools including the Waseda Business School that have English programs (link).

Japanese Language Classes

Japanese language classes at Waseda University are mediated by the Center for Japanese Language (CJL). This is a program designed for students seeking to learn Japanese and become proficient global citizens. CJL classes are also available to students from other schools in Waseda.

Housing Options for International Students

Waseda University has various options for international students. Waseda International Student House (WISH) is a large dormitory for international students with a 2 year contract. For exchange students, there are a few dormitories: Waseda University Student House, Waseda Hoshien, and Nishi-Waseda International Dormitory.

There are also Waseda-affiliated dormitories, found here

International Student Services

The Intercultural Communication Center (ICC) is the hub of international student life at Waseda University. The ICC organizes events for international students. Many of these events are designed to introduce students to Japanese culture. The ICC also hosts language exchange lunches.

Career Services

The Career Center at Waseda University provides a variety of services to help students find jobs. One of these is holding workshops on how to develop soft skills. It also provides information for job hunting and career counselling for international students. Some of its job hunting resources are separated by country — for example, finding jobs with corporations from Germany or France.

Keio University

Image Credit to Kakidai

Number of International Students

Keio University has 2,103 international students (around 6.5% of the student body). Of these, 685 are undergraduate students and 1,418 are graduate students.

Academic Programs in English

Keio University has both undergraduate and graduate programs available in English. Their undergraduate programs include the PEARL (Programme in Economics for Alliances, Research and Leadership) and GIGA (Global Information and Governance Academic) programs. There are many more options for graduate students: there are programs from about 10 graduate schools at Keio University.

Japanese Language Classes

Japanese classes at Keio University are taught through the Center for Japanese Studies (JLP). The program is intended for international, non-native students of Japanese; those who are native speakers of Japanese who are seeking formal Japanese education may want to take note of this. JLP also includes other subjects related to Japanese language and culture.

Housing options for International Students

Keio University has a variety of different dormitory options available to students (link). Students may stay for a maximum of one year in the dormitories. Apartments are another common option for students. Due to how difficult it is to find a private apartment by yourself, Keio University offers services to help students meet with real estate agents. In anticipation of a language barrier, Keio University has relations with real estate agencies that can understand other languages, including English, Chinese, and Korean.

International Student Services

One of the most prominent international student services at Keio is student-run. This is KOSMIC (Keio Organization of Student Members of the International Center), which is organized by Keio students and seeks to provide a welcoming environment for international students. KOSMIC comes up with various events, such as conversation practice, Japanese speech contests, and others.

Career Services

Keio University offers two primary forms of career services. The first is career advice, which includes general job hunting workshops and career counseling. The second is the Information Network, which is an online platform with various types of information that students can access. Corporation data, job postings, and company information helps students conduct career related research. There is also a database of alumni contacts.