Why Choose Kyoto University?

Kyoto University is the second oldest university in Japan. It was founded by imperial ordinance on June 18th, 1897, as the Kyoto Imperial University and belongs to the national university system in Japan. Its liberal atmosphere was restored after World War II.

Kyoto University always boasts a rich academic history, with 11 Nobel Laureates hailing from the university out of the total 27 from Japan. Now Kyoto University consists of a large school system of a wide range of fields. As of 2017, Kyoto University has 10 undergraduate faculties, 18 graduate schools, 13 research institutes, and 22 research and educational centers.

Kyoto University is currently the home to roughly 23,000 undergraduate and graduate students, with the male to female ratio of 3:1. Undergraduate to faculty ratio is kept on the low as 11:1. 81% of international students are from Asia. In the 2018-2019 academic school year, there are 2,700 international students.

About Ph.D. Programs at Kyoto University

Kyoto University offers a wide range of Ph.D. programs for international students, which are conducted entirely in English. The courses listed below belong to the field of Economics, Engineering, Agriculture, Science, Biostudies and Medicine, Global Environmental Studies, and Informatics.

Economics: International Graduate Programme for East Asia Sustainable Economic Development Studies

The Graduate School of Economics of Kyoto University was established in 1953 which sought to both sustain and further the long academic tradition of economic studies at Kyoto University. Students enrolled in the Graduate School can choose to specialize in six academic areas within economics and business management: Economic Theory, Applied Economics, Political Economy, Economic Policy, Management & Accounting, and Economic History & Economic Thought. 

Applicants need to have acquired their Master’s degree, including an MBA degree. Applicants from fields aside from economics or management are also allowed to apply, however, it is recommended that they go through the Master’s in Economics program first in order to solidify their economics background. Those who have graduated a long time ago are also welcome to apply. 

In order to apply for the program, applicants need to fulfill the following steps. First, they need to obtain approval from a prospective supervisor among faculty members based on their research interests, by sending to the supervisor a copy of their curriculum vitae, a research proposal and past academic transcripts. Then, applicants will submit their documents through the university website and take an online interview in English. 

Please select the program (Master’s/ Doctoral) you are willing to apply and check the information on each page.

Engineering: Integrated Engineering Course, Human Security Engineering Field

The program aims to equip doctoral students in the core field of human security as well as four related fields, which are urban governance, urban infrastructure management, health risk management, and disaster risk management. Doctoral students are expected to become researchers and engineers who possess the ability to have a strong foundation of engineering knowledge, perform education and research activity in foreign countries and take a strong initiative in planning research, securing funds and conducting research.

Agriculture: Special Course in Agricultural Science — For the Global Future of Life, Food and the Environment

Within the Faculty of Agriculture, a few doctoral students are admitted for each laboratory. Each laboratory is in accordance with each division of specialization that students can choose to be enrolled in, which include Agronomy and Horticultural Science, Forest and Biomaterials Science, Applied Life Sciences, Environmental Science and Technology, Natural Resource Economics, and Food Science and Biotechnology. 

Prospective students will have to submit application documents, such as their research plan, academic transcripts and abstract of thesis, as well as submit their TOEFL/ IELTS score, take exams in specialized subjects, as well as an oral examination. 

For further details, you can access the Admissions Guide

Energy Science: International Energy Science Course

The Graduate School of Energy Science aims at educating students in becoming able to take the initiative in solving energy problems with creative ways so that they can contribute to the development of a sustainable world. There are four departments available in the program: Socio-Environmental Energy Science, Fundamental Energy Science, Energy Conversion Science, and Energy Science and Technology.

Doctoral students enrolled in the program are required to conduct independent and original research on a topic in energy science under the scholarly supervision of faculty members, and they will need to be able to successfully defend their thesis in an oral examination besides taking a minimum of 4 credits in lectures and seminars. 

Visit the Admissions Guide for further details!

Wildlife Research: International Course in Primatology and Wildlife Research

This course focuses on the study of non-human primates and other wild animals to promote their conservation, health and welfare, and to advance our understanding of wildlife and human nature. Students can study with one of the existing sections at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute (PRI) in Inuyama (Aichi Prefecture), or alternatively at Kyoto University’s Wildlife Research Center (WRC) in Kyoto.


Biostudies and Medicine: Graduate School of Biostudies

Students under this program will be provided the education curriculum to pursue the new biostudies at the world’s top-level and equipped with strong research skills. Within the program, there are two smaller divisions, named the Division of Integrated Life Science (ILS) and the Division of Systemic Life Science (SLS).

The ILS laboratories investigate the fundamental mechanisms of cell structure, cell growth, intracellular signal cascades, plant physiology and totipotency, as well as communicative mechanisms between cells, organisms, and their environments. Meanwhile, students can take experimental approaches with viruses, microorganisms, cultured cells and animals in 21 laboratories at Kyoto University.

Bioscience and Medicine: Graduate School of Medicine

Students under this program will select their own respective posts of assignment from the departments and laboratories at the Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University. Moreover, you will also be assigned to at least one of the Graduate School Training Courses, which bridges the gap between Clinical, Basic and Social Medicine. After completing the course, you are expected to acquire the fundamental skills and knowledge required to plan, conduct and complete a respectable project in basic and clinical medical research.

The SLS laboratories focus on higher-order mechanisms such as the brain and immune system and explore the fundamental molecular mechanisms of human diseases in search of new treatments for currently incurable diseases.

Global Environmental Studies: International Environmental Management Program

Students under this program will have access to a research body called the ‘Hall of Global Environmental Research’, an educational body called the ‘School of Global Environmental Studies’, and a supporting body for education and research called the ‘Grove of Universal Learning’. There are three departments that students can choose to specialize:

  • Department of Global Ecology
  • Department of Technology and Ecology
  • Department of Natural Resources


PhD programs in the field of Informatics include the ones listed below, which only accept a small number of students annually. Under the following programs, students will acquire knowledge and technology skills, along with algorithmic methods with the aim of developing new and more intelligent applications.

  1. International Course in Intelligence Science and Technology
  2. International Course in Social Informatics
  3. International Course in Communications and Computer Engineering


The doctoral programs at Kyoto University are a great step of continuation for students who have acquired their Master’s degree at the university, or those who were enrolled in foreign institutions but are interested in diving into their research in Japan. As Kyoto University is well-known in Japan and abroad for the leading expertise of knowledgeable faculty members, as well as high-end research facilities, doctoral programs at this university will surely be a valuable experience for future researchers and experts in all kinds of fields, from economics, engineering, to biostudies and agriculture.