Can international students apply for the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo? Well, of course!

In this article, we will cover the basic overview of the graduate school, followed by an analysis of the Japanese Language level requirements for each of its degree programs. Finally, we will dive deeper into the curriculum and outline of each program. Ready? Let’s get reading!

The University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Medicine: The Best of the Best

The Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo is considered one of THE BEST schools in one of THE BEST universities in Japan!

With a history that stretches as far back as the 1850s, the Graduate School of Medicine has always been one of the University of Tokyo’s most treasured fields since the university’s establishment in 1877. As of the year 2020, it has been ranked as the BEST medical school in Japan and the 28th worldwide by the QS Top Universities Rankings. The graduate school collaborates closely with the University of Tokyo Hospital, the Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, the International Research Center for Medical Education, the Global Nursing Research Center, and other globally recognized healthcare and research institutes. Including both a medical school and the School of Integrated Health Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tokyo strives to pursue scientific research that betters society through real-life applications in medicine.

Understanding Japanese… Is It Necessary?

Not necessarily!

The Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo has 13 departments that provide four types of degree programs: Doctoral degree programs in both Medical Science and Health Sciences, a Master’s degree program, and a Professional degree program. In this section, we will categorize each of the 13 departments by their Japanese language requirements.

Departments that require NO Japanese language skills:

Departments that require comprehension of Japanese when spoken slowly:

Departments that require basic conversational Japanese:

Departments that require comprehension of Japanese lectures and conversation with other students:

For these departments, students will be expected to take a majority of classes in Japanese. However, the submitted thesis can be in English.

Introduction to the 6 All-English Departments

Yellow Tassel

Since this article is geared towards international readers, let us take a deeper dive into departments that have programs with no Japanese language requirements, as listed above!

1. Molecular Cell Biology (Doctor of Medicine)

This department conducts advanced research in the fields of cellular biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, developmental engineering, and genetics. It consists of 7 laboratories that specialize in specific areas of clinical medicine.

  • The Structural Biology Lab is currently researching the molecular mechanisms and assembly of flagella/cilia.
  • The Structural Cell Biology Lab aims to study the function of microtubule-based molecular motors, and kinesin superfamily proteins (KIFs) through multidisciplinary and comprehensive approaches.
  • The Cellular Neurobiology Lab is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating synapse formation and maintenance.
  • The Molecular Biology Lab has been conducting trans-disciplinary studies on autophagy.
  • The Cellular Signaling Lab focuses on the regulation of biological networks driven by lipids and their metabolites.
  • The Physiological Chemistry and Metabolism Lab analyzes signaling mechanisms of cell fate determination, morphogenesis, and organogenesis.
  • The Advanced Structural Biology Lab studies techniques for structure determination by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), as well as the state-of-the-art cryo-EM used to study the structures of “difficult” samples.

2. Functional Biology (Doctor of Medicine)

This department aims to nurture professionals in the field of clinical medicine who will contribute to curing global diseases. There are 5 research-specific laboratories.

  • The Integrative Physiology Lab utilizes the latest technology to analyze how the neural circuits of the mammalian visual cortex process information.
  • The Cellular and Molecular Physiology Lab is currently focusing on the neural circuits in the frontal cortex.
  • The Neurophysiology Lab researches the function of the synapse and its correlation to postnatal development, learning, and memory.
  • The Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology Lab aims to study the regulatory mechanisms of physiological functions by developing original bioimaging technologies.
  • The Systems Pharmacology Lab studies the effects of negative feedback regulation in neurons that affect the multi-stability and homeo-dynamics in sleep-wake systems.

3. Pathology Immunology and Microbiology (Doctor of Medicine)

The goal of this department is to nurture professionals in this field who are capable of researching the generation of diseases and creating policies to counter them. It consists of 5 laboratories.

  • The Pathology and Diagnostic Pathology Lab investigates the pathogenesis and pathobiology of diseases by utilizing morphology.
  • The Molecular Pathology Lab focuses on the TGF-β family proteins and their roles in regulating cancer.
  • The Microbiology Lab researches the development of gastric carcinoma triggered by Helicobacter pylori and possible treatment methods.
  • The Infection Control and Prevention Lab educates of medical staff and engages in activities to help prevent healthcare-associated infection (HAI).
  • The Immunology Lab analyzes the molecular mechanisms of the development of immune cells and systems to understand and derive treatments for immune diseases.

4. International Health (Doctoral Degree in Health Science)

This department aims to improve the health of individuals worldwide through interdisciplinary approaches in international cooperation. It covers a wide range of academic fields, such as those in biology and social medicine. It consists of 6 core classes.

  • Global Health Policy aims to improve global health standards by enhancing the accountability of both domestic and international health programs through rigorous monitoring and evaluation.
  • Community and Global Health concentrates on health, nutrition, and basic human rights for the socially vulnerable in society.
  • Human Genetics utilizes genomic research tools to analyze the genetic background of a variety of complex diseases.
  • Developmental Medical Sciences concentrate on the maintenance and promotion of mothers’ and children’s health through research.
  • Human Ecology aims to understand human health in relation to the physical and social environments.
  • Biomedical Chemistry studies the virulence mechanisms and metabolism of protozoa, particularly those causing malaria and amebic dysentery.

5. Neuroscience (Doctor of Medicine)

This department aims to find cures for diseases and enhance general health in the field of neurology. It has 6 laboratories with their own research topics.

  • The Neuropathology Lab studies the pathological mechanism of neuronal degeneration and develops disease-modifying therapies.
  • The Neurochemistry Lab investigates the chemical and physiological mechanisms of neuronal protein complexes near and at synapses.
  • The Child Neuropsychiatry Lab concentrates on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, Tourette syndrome, and childhood Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • The Neuropsychiatry Lab investigates schizophrenia and autistic spectrum disorders by biological and psycho-social approaches.
  • The Neurology Lab conducts research on the pathophysiological mechanisms of neurological diseases.
  • The Neurosurgery Lab conducts advanced clinical neurosurgery, neuroscience research, and graduate and postgraduate education in such fields.

6. Surgical Science (Doctor of Medicine)

As the name may suggest, this department focuses on conducting both clinical and experimental research in the field of clinical surgery. Its 16 categories of surgical areas are as follows:

  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Cardiovascular Surgery
  • Gastrointestinal Surgery
  • Hepatobiliary Pancreatic Surgery
  • Urology
  • Artificial Organ and Transplantation Division
  • Surgical Oncology
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Breast and Endocrine Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Anesthesiology
  • Acute Medicine

Study at the University of Tokyo!

As seen above, the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo has plentiful options for various specializations and fields of research! There’s no man left behind! So why not apply? You may end up pursuing your interest in medicine at the best medical school in the nation!


Prospectus 2021~2022. University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine. Print.

Prospectus 2019~2020. University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine. Print.

“Graduate School of Medicine.” The University of Tokyo,

“The University of Tokyo.” Top Universities, 30 Mar. 2020,