Why Choose Kyoto University?

Kyoto University is the second oldest university in Japan. It was founded by imperial ordinance on 18 June 1897, formerly called 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

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 a 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. 

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. 

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. 

Biostudies and Medicine: Graduate School of Biostudies and Graduate School of Medicine

The program aims to equip students with strong research skills, from conducting experiments, analyzing data, to making presentations on results. 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. 

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.


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.