How narrow are the chances of getting accepted into the highest ranked university in Japan?

In this article, we will cover the basic outline, personal experiences, and admission statistics of the University of Tokyo’s PEAK Program!

What is PEAK?

One of the most recognisable buildings on the University of Tokyo Campus, the Clocktower
https://www.rdmag.com/news/2016/06/university-tokyo-utilize-new-sgi-supercomputer

In October of 2012, the Programs in English at Komaba (PEAK) of the University of Tokyo was established as the first undergraduate degree program conducted in a language other than Japanese. With its small classes of globally selected students, the PEAK program was referred to as “undoubtedly one of UTokyo’s most important endeavors” by the university’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Curriculum

The PEAK Program takes an interdisciplinary approach in its four-year undergraduate curriculum. For the first two year of their studies, the PEAK students all take the generalized liberal arts courses under the Junior Division of the program. For the latter half of the program, referred to as the Senior Division, the students take specialized courses in one of two fields: Japan in East Asia or Environmental Sciences. While the Japanese language is not a prerequisite for admission, students are required to take Japanese language courses during their Junior Division period of the program.

What Do the Students Have To Say?

The PEAK Program’s website provided short introductions to some of their past graduates and their personal takes on the program! For the full videos and more similar stories, you can visit the official website listed in the Reference section below!

Erin’s Story

Meet Erin, a 2017 graduate of the PEAK’s Environmental Sciences Program!

Raised in the States by Japanese parents, Erin had always dreamed of studying in Japan but was hindered by her lack of Japanese language skills. The interdisciplinary style of the all-English undergraduate degree PEAK Program was a perfect solution for her! In addition to her academic experiences, Erin appreciated the internationally diverse community that flocked to the program. After graduating from the program, Erin chose to pursue a Master of Public Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health!

Samuel’s Story

Meet Samuel, a 2016 graduate of the PEAK’s Japan in East Asia Program!

Samuel is originally from New Zealand, and he chose to challenge himself by studying in Japan! He was impressed by the program’s broad liberal arts curriculum that allowed its students to learn in depth Japanese culture, study abroad, and gain professional work experiences. He personally specialized in international relations for his final years of studies, which was reflected in his graduation thesis. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Samuel chose to pursue his graduate education at the University of Oxford!

Admission Statistics and Acceptance Rate

And now, the topic we have all been waiting for… the acceptance rate!

While the University of Tokyo does not disclose an official acceptance rate that is guaranteed for all future admission cycles, they have provided admission statistics from past cases since the PEAK Program’s establishment in 2012. For this article, we will divide the analysis of the given statistics into three approaches:

  1. take a glance at the admission statistics from 2012, 2016, and 2020
  2. calculate their respective admission rates
  3. draw conclusions based on changes in admission trend and acceptance rates

1.) Admission Statistics

Below is the Admission Statistics from 2012, as provided by the University of Tokyo. This was the very first admission cycle of the program!

Program ApplicantsSuccessful Applicants
International Program
on Japan in East Asia
11516
International Program
on Environmental Sciences
12322
Total23838

Next up, we have the Admission Statistics from 2016, which is chronologically the halfway point between the PEAK Program’s establishment and present day.

Program ApplicantsSuccessful Applicants
International Program
on Japan in East Asia
13834
International Program
on Environmental Sciences
11631
Total25465

Finally, we have the Admission Statistics from 2020, the most up-to-date of the three samples.

Program ApplicantsSuccessful Applicants
International Program
on Japan in East Asia
11824
International Program
on Environmental Sciences
15636
Total27460

2.) Acceptance Rate Calculation

Now that we have our three samples, let us analyze the acceptance rates for each program over the years. These calculations were made by taking the number of successful applicants over the total number of applicants. All calculations are rounded to the tenth decimal place.

For 2012, 13.9% of total applicants were accepted into the PEAK Program. On a program specific note, the International Program on Japan in East Asia accepted 17.9% of its applicants, while the International Program on Environmental Sciences accepted 16.0%.

For 2016, the total number of applicants increased by 20 students since 2012. Approximately 24.6% of total applicants were accepted, with the Japan in East Asia division accepting 26.7% and the Environmental Sciences division accepting 25.6%.

For 2020, 20.3% of total applicants were accepted into the PEAK Program. The International Program on Japan in East Asia accepted 23.1% of its applicants, while the International Program on Environmental Sciences accepted 21.9%.

3.) Conclusion: Is It Difficult?

The trend indicates that the acceptance rates did not change linearly, but fluctuated over the years. The highest acceptance rate was seen at the midway point in 2016, and the lowest was seen at the program’s establishment in 2012. This data can be reasoned by the increase in the number of applicants that the program accepted from 2012 to 2016, which was almost double!

It may be safe to assume that the acceptance rates have stabilized around the 2020 data of 20.3%, since the rates in 2018 and 2019 were 21.2% and 20.1% respectively. Thus, while the admissions office does not guarantee a set acceptance rate, the recent 2020 admission statistics may be a fairly accurate representation for future applications.

Comparison with Non-International Applicants

An acceptance letter to the University of Tokyo is a coveted luxury among Japanese high school students… and here’s why. Here are the admission statistics for ALL applications submitted to the University of Tokyo in 2020, 2016, and 2012. All data were provided by 東大塾 (Todai-Juku)

Number of
Applicants
First
Screening
Successful
Applicants

Second
Screening
Number of
Applicants
Final
Successful
Applicants
Acceptance
Rate

’209,4328,7778,6833,0833.1%
’169,4518,8478,7373,1083.0%
’129,9918,7278,7023,0083.3%

That’s right! The usual acceptance rate for regular Japanese applicants is approximately 3%! As reference, the acceptance rate for the Harvard University was estimated at 4.6% in the 2019-2020 admission cycle! Indeed, the Japanese high school students spend hours and hours of their day studying for the sole purpose of acing the college entrance examination. With this in mind, a 20% acceptance rate for the PEAK Program seems like a pretty good bargain to me!

Should You Apply to PEAK?

Well, I guess that’s for you to decide. But if you are an English speaker who is interested in studying in Japan, I would 100% recommend this exceptional opportunity to study at the top university in Japan. And right now may be the perfect chance, since those acceptance rates for PEAK may gradually inch towards the 3% margin in the future! Yikes!

For more information on the PEAK Program or the University of Tokyo, you can visit the official websites listed in the Reference section below. Happy readings!

References

“The University of Tokyo, PEAK – Programs in English at Komaba: Admission Statistics.” The University of Tokyo, PEAK – Programs in English at Komaba | Admission Statistics, www.peak.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/whypeak/documents/index.html.

“The University of Tokyo, PEAK – Programs in English at Komaba: Courses.” The University of Tokyo, PEAK – Programs in English at Komaba | Courses, www.peak.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/courses/index.html

“The University of Tokyo, PEAK – Programs in English at Komaba: Student Voices.” The University of Tokyo, PEAK – Programs in English at Komaba | Student Voices, www.peak.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/campus-life/student_voices/index.html.

“東京大学入試情報2021東京大学 合格者数・志願者数・倍率の推移.” 東大塾, https://todai.kawai-juku.ac.jp/exam/transition.php.