About Waseda University

Waseda University was founded in 1882 as the Tokyo Senmon Gakko by Ōkuma Shigenobu. Serving as the Prime Minister of Japan in 1898 and again from 1914 to 1916, he was an early advocate of Western studies in Japan. 

Waseda is home to thirty-six departments: thirteen undergraduate schools and twenty-three graduate schools. It has a very large student body of roughly 50,000 students (41,965 undergraduates and 8,256 postgraduates) spread over 8 campuses as of 2018. Waseda had an admission rate of 17% in 2015 and provided 10 billion JPY worth of financial aid to its students in 2017. 

A picture of the famous Okuma Statue and Okuma Auditorium
Waseda University, Waseda Campus

Waseda University is regarded to have one of the most rigorous admissions among Japanese universities and is often paired with Keio University as the best private university in Japan. The university is especially well-known for its programs in political science and economics. Notable alumni of Waseda University include seven Prime Ministers of Japan and multiple CEOs of globally prominent companies (Honda, Nintendo, Sony, etc.), as well as many athletes, artists, and novelists.

The Position of Waseda University on Domestic Surveys

According to the “University Brand Power Survey” conducted in the Tokyo region in 2017 by College Management, Issue 206 of Recruit Marketing Partners, Waseda was ranked 1st on a variety of different areas, notably “Dream university”, “Most comprehensive curriculum”, “Most potential for development”, and “Best-evaluated university by the public”. 

Another credible source, Asahi Shimbun Publications, which publishes the renowned Asahi newspaper read by many Japanese people, also placed Waseda University high on their Japanese University Ranking 2018. Apparently, career paths after graduation are widely open for Waseda graduates, as the university is ranked between 1st and 3rd in many profession-related criteria, such as “Number of successful applicants for government positions”, “Successful bar examination takers”, and “Successful applicants for certified public accountants”. 

Similarly, according to the ranking by Diamond Weekly, the school was ranked 1st for “International competitiveness” and 2nd for “Job-hunting”. 

International students are listening to company's briefing
Career forum for international students

Looking at these rankings, it is evident that having “Waseda University graduate” on one’s résumé will be very beneficial when students searching for jobs. A large number of Waseda University graduates have managed to secure jobs in large corporations and investment banks, proceeded to law school to take the bar exam, or become influential politicians.

Where Waseda University Stands

According to the Times Higher Education rankings, Waseda University stands 13th out of all Japanese universities. The overall score for Waseda University in domestic rankings is 71.5.

Also based on the same rankings, the university is placed within the 600-800th best universities in the world. Times Higher Education rankings evaluate universities based on 5 criteria: Teaching, Research, Citations, Industry Income and International Outlook. One critical reason why Waseda University is not ranked very highly in a global setting is because of its lack of research publications in English, which is reflected in its low citations score of merely 28.2.

On another ranking website called the QS World Rankings, Waseda University has a higher domestic position at 9th place and an international position at 196th.

Looking closely at its domestic position, it is worth noting that Waseda University continues to claim its 1st place as a private university in Japan. It is no surprise that faculty members and students at Waseda are regarded highly in Japan. Furthermore, Waseda also scores well in its ratio of international students enrolled, which is higher than any of the top national universities in Japan, including the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Nagoya University.

What a University Must Do in Order to Improve Its Rankings 

The strong presence of Waseda University in Japan can be attributed to its comprehensive curriculum, a large and supportive alumni circle, and extensive career opportunities such as career fairs and information sessions. Throughout history, Waseda University has been able to continuously attract prospective high school students, thanks to its professional reputation. 

While Waseda University can pride itself on its domestic rankings, there are still improvements to be made in order to assert its position on the international stage. In order to reduce the gap between Waseda University, as well as other top universities in Japan, and leading schools in the UK and US, it is necessary to push for an environment with English studies accessible to international students. Laboratories should become more open and well-connected with other labs around the world to encourage research activities that match the needs of society. While other universities in Asia have made great leaps in pushing for quality English education that is recognized around the world, Japanese universities need to push for a more dynamic learning environment with modern techniques to push for active learning and research.


In domestic rankings, Waseda University has always been strong in its faculties related to economics, political science, and law, as well as in career possibilities after graduation in Japan. Many Japanese high school students look at Waseda University as their dream destination, as it ensures a professional pathway into the future. While there are improvements to be made on the international stage, an increase in the number of foreign students in recent years indicates the ongoing growth of Waseda University.