Osaka University, or Handai (阪大), is the sixth oldest university in Japan. Located in the heart of the beautiful Osaka Prefecture, the prestigious public research university began with the opening of Osaka Prefectural Medical School in 1869. This institution was renamed the Osaka Prefectural Medical College in 1919 in addition to it being given official university status under the University Ordinance that same year. It wasn’t until 1931, however, when the Osaka Prefecture Medical School became recognized as Osaka Imperial University, or the present-day Osaka University, as one of Japan’s National Seven Universities. At first, Osaka University had only two schools specializing in Medicine and Science, but soon enough, more departments were established starting with the building of the Engineering school in 1933 and the School of Letters along with the School of Economics in 1949. The name Osaka University came into fruition after World War II.
Currently, Osaka University is the largest national university in Japan with a total of 11 undergraduate schools, 16 graduate schools, and five research institutes. It also houses two university hospitals and three national joint-use facilities better known as the Research Center for Nuclear Physics and the Cybermedia Center. Only two of Japan’s national universities are privileged enough to host a School of Foreign Studies, and Osaka University is one of these colleges.
Osaka University Ranking
According to the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), Osaka University is ranked 3rd nationally. This is thanks to its educational quality, alumni employment rate, faculty quality, research output, publication quality, overall influence, and citations. Osaka University received praise in the QS World University Rankings for 2018, ranking among the top 40 universities for Dentistry, Chemical engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and Natural Sciences.
Osaka University is well known for welcoming international students with open arms. In 2018, an impressive total of 2,480 international students were admitted to the university. 365 of those students joined Osaka University’s undergraduate classes, and a massive 1,503 students joined the graduate program.
Osaka University is split into three campuses in the magnificent cities of Suita, Toyonaka, and Minoh.
The biggest of the three campuses, the Suita campus, is home to several of the university’s key international departments:
- School/Graduate School of Human Sciences
- Faculty/Graduate School of Medicine
- School/Graduate School of Dentistry
- School/Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
- School/Graduate School of Engineering
- Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences
- Graduate School of Information Science and Technology
Conveniently, the Suita campus is located next to the northern side of the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, which is referred to as “Bampaku” by locals. Suita also hosts numerous research centers as well as university-industry joint projects. The Administration Bureau, Osaka University Hospital, and Osaka University Dental Hospital, are also located on this campus.
The Toyonaka campus is home to other departments, mainly including:
- School/Graduate School of Letters
- Graduate School of Language and Culture
- School of Law/Graduate School of Law and Politics
- School/Graduate School of Economics
- School/Graduate School of Science
- School/Graduate School of Engineering Science
- Osaka School of International Public Policy
Set on a hill in close proximity to the Ishibashi station with the Hankyu Takarazuka Line and the Shibahara station with the Osaka Monorail line in addition to quick access to a lively shopping center, undergraduate students will always frequent the Toyonaka campus as they are required to earn their general education credits at the Center for Education in Liberal Arts and Sciences for one to one and a half years.
Lastly, the Minoh campus holds the School of Foreign Studies and the Center for Japanese Language and Culture. Located in a similar hill setting as the Toyonaka campus, the Minoh campus is best known for its aforementioned School of Foreign Studies, which includes an astonishing 25 language departments. Students can navigate their way from the Minoh campus to any of the other two campuses using a free Shuttle Bus Service that is readily available to all students enrolled at Osaka University. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get from Suita to Toyonaka, 40 minutes to arrive from Toyonaka to Minoh, and 15 minutes to drive from Minoh to Suita.
Other notable campus facilities are the Osaka University Library and the Museum of Osaka University. The sizable Osaka University Library has four main libraries, which are the Main Library on the Toyonaka campus, the Life Sciences Library, the Science and Engineering Library on the Suita campus, and the International Studies Library on the Minoh campus. However, Osaka University, has many more libraries at its individual schools too. On the other hand, the Museum of Osaka University is known for displaying a collection of historic and academic works that Osaka University has obtained throughout the years, highlighting the institution’s most significant research results in recent history.
Fortunately, Osaka University allows its students to apply for housing depending on their status. For international students and scholars, housing options are divided by long term, meaning a stay of one month or more, or short term, meaning a stay of 30 days of less. A few of the dormitory options are the Osaka University Toyonaka Campus International House, Osaka University Suita Campus International House, and the Osaka University Kasugaoka House. There are also shared house and rental housing options available.
Degrees Offered In English
The Project for Establishing Core Universities for Internationalization, more colloquially referred to as “Global 30”, is an initiative created by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to encourage a learning environment that actively makes it simpler for international students to not only attend school in Japan, but to also receive a top-tier education in the process. The objectives of Global 30 are to enable international students to start and complete their Japanese university education in English, recruit international faculty through internationally posted openings, and improve the system for accepting qualified students.
Osaka University has fully participated in Global 30 by creating a number of credit courses and degree programs taught entirely in English, known collectively as the International College. The courses associated with the International College for undergraduates are the Chemistry-Biology Combined Major Program, and the Human Sciences International Undergraduate Degree Program. For graduates, the available courses at the International College are the Special Integrated Science Course and the International Physics Course, sponsored by Graduate School of Science, Biotechnology Global Human Resource Development Program, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, and Quantum Engineering Design Course. By 2020, Osaka University hopes to take in more full-time international students, raising its current number of 1,900 to 3,000. When it comes to the current number of around 250 short-term international students, Osaka University wants to increase this population to 1,000 by 2020 as well.
Japanese Language Programs
The Japanese Language Programs at provided by the university’s Center for International Education and Exchange are numerous. At the Suita campus, an Intensive Japanese Language Program can be taken for six months, but it’s mostly reserved for students who receive the MEXT Scholarship (learn how to get one here) with Japanese embassy recommendations. There are three levels one can choose from based on their Japanese language ability, and these classes can be enrolled in twice a year during the spring and fall semesters.
The Elective Japanese Language Program at the Suita and Toyonaka campuses are available for all international students. While these general and technical Japanese courses are non-credit and are offered during both semesters, they are still useful as they are taught in six levels from 1 to 3 times per week. There are also General Education Courses for Japanese Subjects, which are Liberal Arts and Sciences, at the Toyonaka campus and at the Suita campus, but for one unit only. Two classes, “Japanese Language” and “Multicultural Communication”, are offered for four-year international undergraduate students in their second language, whose main subject is somehow connected to Japanese.
Lastly, available at the Minoh Campus are the Japanese Studies Program, the Undergraduate Students Program, and the Maple Program. The Japanese Studies Program is meant for “undergraduate-level Japanese government scholars specializing in Japanese Studies, and this one-year program consists of the Practical Japanese Course and the Research Course, the latter being further subdivided into the Japanese Language Research Sub-course and the Japanese Language Research Sub-course and the Japanese Cultural Studies Sub-course.” The Undergraduate Students Program “is a one-year preparatory program for international students who come to Japan to study in Japanese universities with a Japanese government scholarship. Students are classified into the “Humanities/Social Sciences” and “Natural Sciences” courses, according to their fields of study.” Finally, the Maple Program is “one of the short-term student exchange programs for one year, and is promoted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the Japan Student Service Organization (JASSO).”
As for scholarships, the Osaka University International College offers a selection of financial support and scholarships for full-time students pursuing undergraduate degree programs taught in English. The first noteworthy form of financial assistance is the Osaka University Scholarship for students with superb grades. A monthly stipend of 80,000 JPY is awarded to all students eligible to receive the OU scholarship. However, it should be noted that this scholarship is a competitive one. Among new students who enroll in October 2015, only one student from the Human Sciences International Undergraduate Degree Program and two students from the Chemistry-Biology Combined Major Program are eligible for this scholarship.
Additionally, all Osaka University students are eligible to apply for a tuition fee exemption (for either half or all tuition fees). Students can apply for this exemptions from late March to early April, when it comes to the spring semester. Applications for fall semester tuition fee exemption are accepted from late September to early October.
Of course, the ‘Reservation Program for Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship for Privately Financed International Students by Pre-arrival Admission’ is offered on a competitive basis by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). It is made available to international students who have been accepted and will enroll in Osaka University.” If received, a monthly stipend of 48,000 JPY will be provided. This reward can be only be given through internal nomination.
Simply put, Osaka University is a brilliant academic center with fantastic opportunities and immeasurable educational resources. If one wants to jumpstart their future career by making the most of their university surroundings, there’s no better place to do it than Osaka University.
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