What is an MBA?

In response to the dynamic and globalized business world, many students and working professionals interested in working in business find an increasing need for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in order to advance their careers. An MBA is an internationally recognized degree whose curriculum includes a wide array of courses related to business principles including accounting, finance, economics, and marketing.

Unlike undergraduate programs that are lecture-based, MBA programs emphasize small scale seminars, case studies, class discussions where students can have intensive interactions with professors and classmates.

MBA programs are divided into several types depending on time commitment and career trajectory: full-time MBA, part-time MBA (evenings and weekends), and EMBA (MBA for executives).

Why pursue an MBA in Japan?

Tokyo is the financial and technological center of not only Japan but also in the Asia-Pacific region. Acquiring an MBA in Japan will help you build your circle of professional connections from your cohort or with the alumni of the school. MBA programs at well-known universities in Japan also have the advantage of affordable tuition fees compared to business schools in other countries. Tuition fees tend to vary from 1 to 3 million yen per year for MBA programs in Japan.

Coursework typically incorporates a blend of western and Japanese management practices, which will help you have an insight into the business world in Japan. The interactive learning experience with Japanese professors as well as international classmates will help you solidify academic training by applying to real-life research and case studies.

A Glimpse into Business Schools in Japan

Waseda University, Waseda Business School (WSB)

With roughly 52,000 students enrolled at Waseda University in 2015, it is no surprise that WSB, being a part of Waseda, also boasts the largest alumni network in Japan. WSB offers both Japanese and English MBA programs, respectively in April and September enrollment through six programs and eight tracks, ensuring to satisfy the needs of students and professionals from all walks of life. 

Inside a classroom of Waseda Business School

Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy (Hitotsubashi ICS)

With the advantage of being in the heart of the financial district in Tokyo, together with a world-class MBA curriculum and having a small student-faculty of 3:1, Hitotsubashi ICS is the only global, English-only MBA program at Hitotsubashi University. The university itself is one of the leading schools in Japan’s national university system. 

Keio University, Keio Business School (KBS)

Often considered to be a rival of Waseda, Keio University is also well-known for its business program, However, unlike WSB, full-time MBA students, including international students, are required to conduct class discussions and complete reading and writing assignments in Japanese.

NUCB Business School 

NUCB Business School is ranked as the best business school in Japan by QS World University and Financial Times rankings. In 2003, NUCB Business School launched the first EMBA program in Japan, a special track dedicated to executives with 10 years and above of professional experience. 

International University of Japan, Graduate School of International Management 

Started in 1988, the IUJ MBA program prides itself on being the first US-style business school in Japan. It is also recognized as one of the top 100 global MBAs by the Economist’s “Best Business Schools”. 

Application Process

The application process requires a comprehensive evaluation of past academic achievements, work experience, extracurricular activities, leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, employment history, etc. While the actual application package varies based on programs at different universities, a typical application for an MBA program in Japan includes:

  • Online application forms on educational background, language proficiency, etc.
  • CV or resume
  • Official transcripts of undergraduate and/or graduate studies
  • Degree certificates of completed higher education 
  • Application essays (personal statements)
  • Letters of recommendation, from current employers and/or professors
  • Proof of language proficiency (Japanese and/or English)
  • GMAT and/or GRE score report
MBA programs are generally often known for their rigorous admission process in order to select exceptional candidates.

Scholarships for International Students

Tuition fee waivers granted upon matriculation

This type of scholarship typically entails tuition fee waivers for the first academic year or an annual stipend. As the name suggests, procedures for this type of scholarship are fairly simple.

If a candidate satisfies the eligibility requirement (being a privately-financed international student), they need to submit a separate form of scholarship application, which is considered simultaneously alongside the compulsory application package. Scholarship results are announced at the same time as admission results.

Government-sponsored Scholarships

  • MEXT Scholarship

MEXT scholarship is one of the most prestigious and generous scholarships for international students in Japan, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). It covers full admission fees, tuition fees, a round-trip flight ticket from your home country to Japan, and offers a monthly stipend of 144,000 JPY for Master’s students.

The scholarship requires candidates to pass the preliminary screening examination at the embassy/ consulate of their home country. Then, they will be able to contact the universities of their choice for admission application. 

At some designated schools, the university will recommend the candidates to MEXT directly and grant the scholarship before their arrival in Japan. Students should contact respective universities to confirm whether this application track is available. 

  • JASSO Scholarships

Japan Study Support Organization (JASSO) also provides ample information on financial aid for international students in Japan. One prominent scholarship by the organization is JASSO Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship for Privately Financed International Students, which is granted based on either self-application or university recommendation at the time of application with the stipend of 48,000 JPY per month. 

Private Foundation Scholarships

Admitted students are either nominated by the university at the time of application based on their merits. They can also choose to apply to these scholarships on their own after acceptance. Eligibility requirements vary greatly based on the scholarships, such as the academic year that the student is enrolled in, their country of origin, their field of studies, etc. Stipends also vary based on the level of education, for which the stipend for Master’s level (MBA) is higher than that for the undergraduate level.

Students should contact the school administration office or keep updated through the university bulletin board regularly to have the most up-to-date information for these private scholarships. 

Tips for Admission and Scholarship Success

A prospective student is expected to contribute to the school’s prestige based on their educational and professional achievements, as well as potential endowments. The admission board will carefully evaluate the candidate’s past overall performance as well as motivational essays. It is crucial to appeal to the interviewer on the motivation to enroll in an MBA program and demonstrate your leadership and ability to contribute to case study debates and discussions in class.


MBA programs in Japan are continuously growing in size and improving in curriculum quality and a proven track record of professional success of their alumni. Acquiring an MBA in Japan will provide you with a great opportunity to gain insight into the business workings and build crucial professional relationships as entrepreneurs or managers in the country.