What Makes the University of Tokyo Special?

Established in 1877 as an imperial university, The University of Tokyo is considered to be the most prestigious university in Japan. The university is a large scale academic hub with 10 faculties and 15 graduate schools that are home to a total of 30,000 students, out of which 2,100 are international. It is one of the elite Japanese universities selected for the MEXT’s Top Global University Project, indicating its role as an example of the competitiveness of Japanese higher education. With a recognizable history since its foundation, The University of Tokyo has produced celebrated figures in many fields, ranging from politics, business, science to fine arts. To this day, the university counts eight Nobel prize winners, five astronauts, and 15 Japanese prime ministers among its alumni.

Programs Available for International Students 

Thanks to the Top Global University Project, the University of Tokyo has been brought closer to international students all around the world with its newly founded English undergraduate programs. These programs are Programs in English at Komaba (commonly abbreviated as PEAK), and the Global Science Course.

Programs in English at Komaba (PEAK)

In October 2012, the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo began to offer an undergraduate program taught entirely in English at Komaba campus. The majority of PEAK students graduated from high schools and secondary institutions outside of Japan and come from diverse backgrounds around the world. In the most recent admission statistics, out of 274 applicants, 60 students were admitted into the PEAK program in 2020.

Within the program, students can choose one of the two subprograms to pursue, “International Program on Japan in East Asia” and “International Program on Environmental Sciences”. During the first two years, students will take courses in liberal arts, referred to as the junior division. In the junior division, most of the courses are also open to non-PEAK students, which encourages a robust learning environment between PEAK students and their counterparts outside of the program. In the latter two years, during the senior division, they will take courses in their specialized majors based on the sub-program.

University of Tokyo

Global Science Course

Global Science Course (GSC) targets undergraduate students who have completed the first two years of their degree at another university and wish to transfer and attend The University of Tokyo from their third year. Upon fulfilling graduation requirements, they will be given a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from The University of Tokyo. In order to qualify for the program, students need to have completed basic undergraduate classes in Chemistry and at least two subjects within mathematics, biology, or physics before applying to GSC. Prospective students must have acquired 62 credits in reference to the credit system of the University of Tokyo in which 2 credits consist of 13 weeks of 105-minute lectures.

Acceptance Rate for International Students

Although the University of Tokyo does not disclose the official acceptance rate, information on admissions statistics is released every year on the university website. In the most recent admission batch, September 2020, the University of Tokyo made admission offers to 60 applicants out of a total of 274 applicants for the PEAK program. 

It can be seen that the Environmental Sciences section appears to be slightly more popular than the Japan in East Asia section based on the number of applicants that it attracts. In the Japan in East Asia subprogram of PEAK, 24 applicants were successful out of 118 applicants. Out of those 24, there were 14 applicants who were given conditional admission. In the Environmental Sciences subprogram, 36 applicants succeeded out of 156 applicants, and 23 of 36 were conditional. Based on these numbers, it can be calculated that the overall acceptance rate of the PEAK program for the 2020 academic year was 21.9%. The acceptance rate was 20.1% in the 2019 academic year, and 21.1% in 2018. Since the PEAK program was established in 2012 with 238 applicants, there has been an increase in the total number of applications. 

The breakdown of nationalities of successful applicants also gives additional insight into the student demographics. In the academic year 2020, the nationality with most applicants is Japan, with 17 students, followed by China with 15 students, and South Korea with 5 students. Besides these East Asian nationalities, the PEAK program also welcomes students from around the world, such as India, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, to name a few. A couple of applicants have dual citizenship with Japan.   

Alongside the acceptance rate, the level of standardized test scores that are expected of applicants is also a topic that many prospective applicants care about. On its official website, the University of Tokyo discloses the average test scores that successful applicants possessed over the years as a source of reference. Despite the slight fluctuation each year due to the varied input of applicants, the scores remain to reflect the high academic performance of candidates and the competitiveness of the PEAK program. The most recent test scores for September 2020 intake are as follows:

  • SAT: a combined score of 1440 for Reasoning section
  • ACT: an average score of 30
  • IB: a total of 36 points out of 42
  • GCE A Level (General Certificate of Education Advanced Level): A/A/B
  • Singapore-Cambridge GCE A Level: A/A in H2

In addition, average scores of successful applicants for the 2019 enrollment are:

  • SAT: a combined score of 1527 for Reasoning section
  • ACT: an average score of 34
  • IB: total of 39 out of 42

Conclusion

As the University of Tokyo is considered to be the most prestigious university in Japan and renowned around the world, it is no surprise that the university will have high expectations from its pool of candidates, hence the relatively low acceptance rate. It is important to remember that the university will make its admission decisions based on the overall quality of the application instead of test scores. You would have a higher chance of getting in if you have a well-rounded application package with a strong academic performance and a clearly demonstrated motivation for applying to the program.

References

https://peak.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/whypeak/documents/index.html

https://peak.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/courses/course-structure/index.html

https://peak.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/faq/faq.cgi