Do you want to learn a new language and enjoy the best sushi restaurants? Do you want to immerse yourself in a unique and global environment?

If your answer is yes, Japan would be an ideal place for you! While rich in tradition, it also possesses prestigious universities that are placed in the top 100 institutions on the global ranking and that are known for their excellence in research and teaching. 

Tokyo Tech
Mount Fuji

Sounds great!…So what’s next? In this article we will give you a comprehensive guide that covers the basic information on average tuition, generous scholarships, admission processes, and popular schools that are important when considering universities in Japan!

Without further ado, let’s find out more about the basic information about Japanese universities!

Consider the universities’ resources

Japan has been actively enticing international students to diversify its monocultural environment for the last few decades. For this reason, more and more Japanese universities are offering overseas students a wide range of majors and subjects that are taught entirely in English. For specific schools, it will have a different focus on the fields and the degree courses that are available. Therefore, it is important that you know which major you are interested in and whether it is closely associated with your dream job in the future. You should also be aware of what are the strong points of the dream universities and see whether they have the resources that could benefit you in your future career. For example, you should visit the Japanese universities’ websites and find out information about their faculties, departments, degree programs, tuition, support services, scholarships, on-campus activities, and many other things…


Waseda University

Under Japanese law, all national universities have the same tuition, regardless of international or domestic programs. The tuition itself per year is fixed at 585,800 yen. There is a separate admission fee in the first year, which is also fixed at 282,000 yen. Alongside tuition, there are other separate fees such as facility fees and the equipment fees that are also paid annually based on specific universities and their departments. Therefore, the total fee is at least 817,800 yen. 

On the other hand, most private universities have relatively similar tuition fees, which is around 1.2 million yen to 2 million yen in total annually, based on university and department. The admission fee at most private universities is fixed at 200,000 yen.

Scholarships at Japanese universities

As a leading nation in education, Japan is also known for offering the most generous scholarships to international students. You can expect two types of scholarships at Japanese universities: partial and full. Here is the list of the most common scholarship options for international students: 

Honors Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students

The Japan Student Service Organization (JASSO) offers an Honors Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students. While it does not cover tuition fees, it is still a helpful scholarship to have.

  • 48,000 JPY per month for 1 year for graduate school students, research students, undergraduate students
  • 30,000 JPY per month for 1 year for students in a Japanese language institution

Japanese Government Scholarship: MEXT Scholarship

If you have done quite a few research on Japanese universities, you may have heard about the MEXT (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship. It is one of the most prestigious scholarships and it has been given out since 1954 by the Japanese Government. With a variety of majors allowed and no bond after you graduate, this scholarship is very popular amongst foreign students.

For Undergraduate Students:

The program lasts for 5 years (1 year for Japanese Language Training and 4 years in a Japanese university) or 7 years for Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences (1 year for Japanese Language Training and 6 years in a Japanese university).

  • 117,000 JPY per month (Additional stipend for designated areas)
  • One round-trip ticket
  • Tuition: Exemption of examination, entrance and tuition fee

For Graduate School & Research Students

Up to 2 years for Research Students and a period to complete the standard course term for Graduate School Students + 6 months Japanese Language Training.

  • Non-degree students: 143,000 JPY per month
  • Master’s Course: 144,000 JPY per month
  • Doctoral Course: 145,000 JPY per month (Additional stipend for designated areas)
  • One round-trip ticket
  • Tuition: Exemption of examination, entrance and tuition fee

Application Process

There are 3 stages during the application for the MEXT Scholarship:

1. Documents Screening
2. Written Examination
3. Interview

These are conducted by your local Japanese embassy so do check out the respective websites for the application guidelines, forms, and full details of when and where to submit the documents. Usually, the application deadline is around the end of June, early July but it depends on your region. Written examinations are around mid-July and interviews would be about a week after.

Applying to Keio University PEARL program

JICA Scholarship: Academic opportunity for Asian Students

JICA is an organization that provides over 7 scholarship programs, with different scholarship grants. For further details about JICA scholarships, read on JICA Scholarship Programs

Scholarships by Universities

Apart from the aforementioned scholarships, each university has its own scholarship programs. Therefore, you should check the university’s website carefully and note the deadlines and requirements for each scholarship offer to prepare in advance!

Common required documents 

Here is the list of the most common documents that you will be asked to submit when applying for Japanese universities:

  • Educational background and the transcript of your records
  • Proof of funding
  • Copies of your passport
  • Photos 
  • Essay / Statement of Purpose: This may vary from school to school. But generally, you will be asked to state the reasons why you choose the university and the major, as well as how this decision can contribute to your future goals.
  • Tuition Reduction Application Form: This is also different among specific universities. Normally, if you want to apply for the university’s scholarship at the time of the admissions period, you have to write an essay stating the reasons why you apply and why you deserve the scholarship.
  • Proof of language proficiency: IELTS and TOEIC are the most commonly-required certificate at Japanese universities. If you have already taken the Japanese language exam but enroll in English-based programs, you can submit your Japan language certificate to make your profile outstanding.
  • Recommendation letters from professors at your school
  • Extra-curricular activities: This is important because they can show that you may gain experience, acquire soft skills, and make contributions to the society if you have participated in a student council, volunteer work, sports competitions, etc.

Most popular Japanese universities for international students

You should see which university is most suitable for you, instead of judging the institutions based on their ranking and the tuition fees. Below is the list of the Japanese universities that are most common for international students (in no particular order):

Keio University (Tokyo, Japan)

Keio University is a top private university in Japan. The school has multiple campuses across Tokyo, and one close to the beautiful seaside of Kanagawa, where the PEARL program resides. It currently offers more English graduate degree programs than undergraduate (24 in total). For undergraduates looking to study at Keio, the faculty of economics (PEARL) program, and the faculty of Policy Management, Environment, and Information Studies, (GIGA), offer classes in English. Graduate degree programs offer more choices like Engineering, Health, Media, and Law.

mita, keio
The Mita Campus of Keio

Details for all degree programs and courses, visit Keio University’s English programs.
To check out what prospective applicants and current international students in Japan shared about Keio University, please go to Keio University’s community page.

Nagoya University

As its name suggests, Nagoya University is located in Nagoya. Nagoya University started to offer the G30 International Program that consists of undergraduate and graduate courses conducted in English. Nagoya University continues its legacy of academic excellence and boasts about 33% of Japan’s Nobel Laureates in Science. It comes as no surprise that the university is well known for its research.

Details for all English programs and courses, visit Nagoya University’s English programs
Want to hear the application story of a Nagoya G30 Scholar, read on this article.

Sophia University

Sophia University, located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is one of the leading international universities in Japan. They have undergraduate and graduate programs taught entirely in English, including the Faculty of Liberal Arts and the Graduate School of Global Studies. Sophia University has over 333 affiliated universities in 70 countries

Sophia University

For further details on Sophia’s English programs, read on the article about Sophia University

International Christian University

International Christian University (ICU) is best known for its outstanding ability in developing global talents. ICU’s Mitaka campus (located in Tokyo) has the features necessary to foster individuals that could help conduct this university goal

Picture of ICU

For details on degree programs and courses, check out International Christian University’s English Programs

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) is located in the city of Beppu in Oita prefecture. It boasts an almost 50%-50% international to Japanese student ratio, which is rare in Japanese Universities. This pre-eminent intercultural and multilingual community of the school has earned the university a full mark in internationalization according to the QS World University Rankings Asia. Undergraduate students can choose from two majors: Asia Pacific Studies, or International Management.

  • Asia Pacific Studies offers majors such as Environment and Development, Culture, Society and Media, Hospitality and Tourism, and International Relations and Peace Studies.
  • International Management offers majors such as Strategic Management and Organization, Marketing, Innovation and Economics, and Accounting and Finance. 
Ritsumeikan Asia PAcific University

To check out what prospective applicants and current international students in Japan shared about APU University, please go to APU’s community page. You can also check APU’s English programs here

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) has undergraduate and graduate programs that provide an education suitable for aspiring global leaders. The campus has 729 international students from 84 different countries and 42 foreign teaching staff and researchers. Also, the university highly promotes exchange experiences, with 35% of freshman students studying abroad on short-term exchange programs and 65% of students from each grade studying abroad on long-term exchange programs.

Check Tokyo University of Foreign Studies’s English programs here

Akita International University

Akita International University (AIU) is a four-year liberal arts university, located in the lush green city of Akita prefecture in the Tohoku region. Famous for being a prestigious university that aims to enhance intercultural and global higher education, Akita International University currently offers bachelor’s degrees in Global Business and Global Studies, as well as master’s degrees in Japanese Language Teaching, English Language Teaching, and Global Communication Practices.

Check Akita International University’s English program here
For further admissions details, you can visit Review and Admissions Process

Tokyo International University

Tokyo International University (TIU) is located in a nice Tokyo suburb, Kawagoe. It is about 35 minutes from the city centre and in close proximity to Tokyo’s best attractions. E-track is its English degree program option for international students with majors in Business Economics, Digital Business and Innovation, and International Relations. Within business, economics are smaller concentrations such as IT, Management, Finance, etc. International Relations majors have a wide range of concentrations available such as Intercultural Communications, Japanese Society, and Tourism. 

For further details, you can visit Tokyo International University’s website.

Ending message

Studying abroad in Japan offers you a myriad of opportunities to develop yourself personally, step outside of your comfort zone, learn a new language, and expand your network as well as your experiences. Each Japanese university will have unique attributes that might fit your criteria. Therefore, it is important that you consider their resources and make your decision as soon as possible so that you can have plenty of time to prepare for the admissions procedure! Good luck!