Following the end of World War II, the International Christian University (ICU) was established in 1958 by leaders of the Christian Church in Japan and North America. In essence, it is an institutional symbol of peaceful development that contrasted the hostility that persisted throughout the war. Befitting its Christian foundation, the campus in suburban Tokyo was purchased with donations, totaling up to 160 million dollars! The contributors included Christians and non-Christians alike, from companies and individuals all over the world!
The grand name of the International Christian University is more than a fancy title. It reflects the three commitments that shape the university’s ultimate mission.
- The “International” represents the motivation for global peace that the university’s establishment rests upon. It guarantees that the university is accessible to the whole world, regardless of a student’s race, nationality, religion, or gender.
- The “Christian” reflects the emphasis on faith that the university has upheld since its establishment by the leaders of the Christian Church. While the ICU does not disregard any scientific interpretations and research, it aims to foster the Christian ideals of individuality, citizenship, and compassion within its students.
- Finally, as a prestigious “university” of Japan, the ICU strives for academic excellence in both the national and international fields. Both through experiences in an international environment and courses taken in their academically rigorous programs, the ICU expects its students to develop as capable scholars.
The ultimate mission of the university is to combine these three commitments into a unique and globalized college experience where students grow as responsible individuals who will lead the world into a peaceful future.
“We believe in the essential unity of knowledge, faith and action”
~International Christian University
Japanese-English Bilingual Education
The ICU provides courses in both English and Japanese, which is comforting to hear for prospective foreign students! One motive of their bilingual curriculum is to develop international professionals who are fluent in both languages. Such skills are becoming increasingly important in this globalizing society. Bilingual education also opens opportunities for a bicultural university life. By diving into a classroom full of unfamiliar cultures and unique ways of thinking, the students are able to enhance their own critical thinking skills and gain a broader perspective into their field of study!
Japanese Language Program (JLP)
The ICU’s Japanese Language Program (JLP) accommodates its international students with a choice of two tracks: the Japanese Program (Japanese as a foreign language) and the Special Japanese Program (Japanese as a first/heritage language).
Let’s start with the self-explanatory basic Japanese Program. This track is designed for beginners and intermediate learners of the Japanese language. Through its eight total levels, the foreign students will become capable of communicational Japanese, as well as comprehending Japanese professors in the other ICU courses!
For most people, the Special Japanese Program may sound a little absurd: why would a native Japanese student need Japanese language classes? Japanese students like me, however, who have used English for most of their elementary and secondary school education will understand how helpful this program is! Through kanji and college-level comprehension classes, Japanese nationals who are not familiar with the Japanese education system can get right back on track with their native language!
English for Liberal Arts Program (ELA)
And for my foreign students who are not native English speakers, don’t worry!
One program that specifically highlights the bilingual education at ICU is the English for Liberal Arts Program (ELA). This program is designed to increase the students’ English speaking and comprehension skills while simultaneously developing the capacity for critical thinking and communication skills necessary to study effectively at ICU.
ELA courses are conducted in small-size classes of approximately 20 students which allows its instructors to provide attentive and student-specific guidance. Activities include reading college-level articles on academic topics, discussing and presenting opinions, and writing papers on the topics. Due to the ICU’s strong emphasis on international communication, the ELA is an important introduction to ICU’s bilingual liberal arts program.
The undergraduate curriculum at the ICU is comprised of five main areas:
- General Education Courses
- Language Courses (as described above)
- Health and Physical Education Courses
- Specialized Courses
- Study Abroad Courses
The General Education Courses provide both introductory as well as multidisciplinary courses that will accompany the students’ main areas of focus. It contains one mandatory Introduction to Christianity course offered in both Japanese and English. Its purpose is to have students understand the basics of Christianity, its ideological significance and issues, and its perception in relation to other religions and cultures. Other traditional areas of study include (but are not limited to) the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences.
In addition to the Japanese and English language courses described in the section above, there are nine other languages available through the World Language Program. Similar to their Japanese and English counterparts, these courses aim to teach both the communicational skills and the cultural aspects behind each language.
Who says university classes need to be taken in a chair? The ICU abandons the typical image of a college classroom by incorporating health and physical education courses in its undergraduate curriculum. The graduation requirements include one course in Health Science (comprising lectures on health and physical education) and three courses in Physical Education Exercise I, II, and III (consisting of practical exercises). Not only does this teach life-long habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it also allows students to interact with their international classmates on an intimate and collaborative level! How fun!
The specialized courses are the main ingredients of the entire curriculum. For the first two years of their undergraduate studies, the students take foundations courses in their general fields of interest. They do not pick their major until after their second year has been completed! At this point, the students can choose to pursue one major, two majors, or a combination of one major and one minor. And the choices are endless, ranging from economics, political sciences, and business to humanities, media studies, and the social sciences! See a full list of possible majors here!
Last but not least, the International Christian University wouldn’t be very “international” without its study abroad opportunities! From as short as 2 weeks to as long as an entire year, the students are permitted to (moreover, encouraged to) participate in one of the ICU’s well organized foreign exchange programs. The type and duration of the study abroad program available to the student will differ by his or her year of study, so you can check the specific requirements here!
There’s no time to waste! The ICU offers a unique opportunity for students to finish their undergraduate and graduate studies within the span of five years! This means that the student will begin taking necessary graduate level courses in their 4th year of undergraduate studies. To make things even better, students who decide to pursue the 5-Year Program at the time of entering the undergraduate school will have their Graduate School Matriculation Fee waived!
Apply To ICU!
What are you waiting for? Why not try applying to the International Christian University?
You’ve got this! You can apply for either the April or the September entry, with online application opening in August and January respectively. For more information, you can refer to the official admissions website by clicking here. Good luck!
“INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY.” ICU, www.icu.ac.jp/en/.