For any students who have completed a bachelor’s degree, two years exploring Japan’s ultra-modern cities and its stunning heritage sites while earning a master’s degree would be an excellent experience. See what it’s like to study and work in Japan! This article will describe why Japan has a lot to offer when it comes to postgraduate studies.

– Why Study for a Master’s in Japan
– Why Work in Japan
– Let’s Study and Work in Japan!

Firstly, I will briefly explain why a master’s degree in this day and age is so essential. Have you ever thought of furthering your education after completing a bachelor’s degree to set yourself apart from the rest of the workforce? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18 percent of all jobs will require a master’s degree by 2022. While today’s job market is becoming increasingly competitive, the benefits of a master’s degree can help you differentiate yourself and make an impression with employers. However, many college graduates will make the grave mistake of assuming that their undergraduate degree alone will qualify them for a job. Below are the reasons why Japan is an ideal place for a Master’s degree!

1. Why Study for a Master’s in Japan?

Japan never disappoints foreign students with its high quality in teaching and research. Well-known as a nation with education at the heart of modern society and seven of its universities in the top 50 in Asia (two of them in the top 100 in the world), the land of the rising sun is absolutely a desirable destination to pursue higher education.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider studying a masters degree in Japan this year:

  1. Academic excellence: Japanese universities enjoy a world-class reputation for their research and are keen to attract more international postgraduates.
  2. Quality of life: Japan is one of the world’s safest countries, offering a welcoming environment for foreign students.
  3. Scholarship opportunities: There is a wealth of scholarship programs available for international students in Japan
  4. Gain work experience: By choosing to study and work in Japan, you can gain academic knowledge while experimenting with workplaces in Japanese society! If you study and work in Japan, you can also cover much of the tuition fees and living expenses needed for your graduate school studies.
  5. Learn a new language: Although there is an increasing number of master’s programs in Japan taught entirely in English, you can still immerse yourself in the unique culture of Japan and broaden your mind with different perspectives of life.

Master’s Degree – General Information

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Credits: Normally, the minimum number of credits to be accomplished is 30. Students will have to take a fixed number of core courses (which are delivered through lectures, tutorials, group work, and practicals), research courses, and elective courses.
  • The first three semesters are dedicated to coursework and the final semester to your master’s thesis (as well as taking a few compulsory courses).

In addition to passing the exams, you will need to submit a Master’s thesis or present your research if you decide to conduct a Masters’s research project. You will be assigned a supervisor for your final semester but you’d better start planning your research early.

Entry Requirements

If you want to pursue your postgraduate studies in Japan, you should have a bachelor’s degree or an international equivalent. You may have to sit an entrance examination in your subject area or provide a graduate standardized test score such as GRE, so check the specific requirements at your chosen university.

If English is not your first language, you’ll also need to submit an English language certificate, such as TOEFL or IELTS (unless you studied your undergraduate degree in a country where English is the official language).

If you want to join a course delivered in Japanese, then you will have to demonstrate your Japanese proficiency, most likely through the JLPT. 

Required Documents

The application process at most Japanese universities involves a similar set of documents and forms that you’ll need to submit. They include:

  • The application form, normally available online or as a downloadable document
  • Personal statement
  • Bachelor diploma (if you have already graduated) and transcripts
  • References/letters of recommendation (most often two)
  • English-proficiency test scores and certificates (and Japanese equivalent if required)
  • Application fee certificate or receipt

Selection Process

In Japan, the selection process for a master’s program is similar to that of a doctoral program. It’s a good idea to look for a potential thesis advisor for your research project before submitting your application.

Public universities in Japan often operate a two-step selection process: Candidates who are successful at the document screening stage will be interviewed. Applicants who live in Japan will be invited to the university for an interview while applicants outside Japan will have the option of being interviewed via video conferencing.

Visa and Immigration

Once you have accepted an offer of admission, your university can apply on your behalf for a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence, issued by a Regional Immigration Bureau in Japan. The university will send you this document, which you can present to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country of residence when you apply for your visa.

The student can apply directly for the visa through the Japanese embassy or consulate in the student’s home country but it will be a time-consuming process. Therefore, it is recommended that you ask your university to apply on your behalf for a Certificate of Eligibility. When you arrive in Japan, you will be granted a “College Student” status by the immigration authorities. There are two periods of stay for Masters students (depending on what information your university provides in the Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence), either two years or two years + three months.

Let’s learn Japanese!

Graduate schools also offer Japanese language classes, which don’t count towards your course credits but are often free of charge!

Why Work in Japan?

Here are a few reasons why you should consider full-time work in Japan:

  1. relatively higher salaries than in other nations
  2. attractive social security benefits and increased job security
  3. high standard of living with good access to public services
  4. high-quality healthcare and municipal facilities
  5. high demand for human capital due to decreasing labor pool

Not ready for a full-time position in a Japanese company? Why not start from somewhere more comfortable? There are various internship opportunities and part-time jobs for international students in Japan. While internships can make your resume look more impressive, part-time jobs can offer opportunities for you to immerse yourself in Japanese society. It will pay enough salary to get you started on your life in Japan!

Let’s Study and Work in Japan!

Why not combine the best of both worlds into one? That’s right! You can study AND work in Japan!

By choosing to split your time by studying and working in Japan simultaneously, you can obtain both academic knowledge and cultural experiences! Moreover, you can use your earnings from your work to cover the cost of your studies!


Overall, the tuition fee for a master’s degree in Japan is not that expensive compared to graduate schools in other popular study-abroad destinations. These expenses can often be covered for students who plan to study and work in Japan! There are currently over 700 universities in Japan, around 75% of which are private universities. As a rule, Japanese universities can be divided into three different types: private universities, national universities, and public local universities. They all can offer postgraduate degrees.

In national universities, tuition fee for pursuing a master’s program in Japan is fixed by the Ministry or by local authorities for public universities, while that for the private ones might vary. The figures are shown below:

  • National universities: ¥535,800 (USD $4,900) per year + ¥282,000 (USD $2,565) for admission fees
  • Local public universities: ¥538,167 (USD $4,900) per year + ¥230,717 (USD $2,100) for admission fees
  • In private universities, annual tuition fees range from ¥660,750 (USD $6,015) to ¥1,249,304 (USD $11,370) per year. Admission fees are around ¥220,000 (USD $2,000).

All international students are required to enroll in the National Health Insurance system. This is done through the office that processes your residence registration. The annual premium varies depending on where in Japan you live but is around ¥23,200 (USD $211) per year.


There is a range of scholarships available to international master students. By combining these scholarships with your salary from work, you can study in Japan for almost zero cost!

  • Japanese Government (MEXT) Postgraduate Scholarships
    Applied through the Japanese embassy in your home country, these highly selective scholarships provide roundtrip airfare, university fees, a monthly grant of ¥143,000 (USD $1,300), an optional six-month course in Japanese and help to find accommodation. The scholarships are tenable at selected institutions but in all subject areas.
  • Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarships for Privately-financed International Students
    These scholarships provide a monthly allowance of ¥48,000 (USD $440) for graduate students who do not hold a scholarship (from any source).
  • Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship
    This is a postgraduate scholarship available to students from Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. This scholarship is tenable at selected universities and provides tuition fees, admission fees, traveling and seminar allowance, book allowance, arrival allowance, accommodation allowance, stipend, and shipping allowance.
  • Scholarships provided by JASSO:
    JASSO, which stands for the Japan Student Services Organization, is an independent administrative institution established under MEXT and also runs the undergraduate university entrance examination EJU. It maintains a useful list of scholarships for international students offered by local authorities and private foundations.
Nothing is impossible if you are determined to it!

I hope that the information given above will be helpful to those who are considering applying for a master’s degree in Japan! Let’s go study and work in Japan!