The University of Tokyo’s flagship English-degree program, PEAK, is broken up into two tracks: The International Program on Japan in East Asia and The International Program on Environmental Sciences. Both of these programs are interdisciplinary degree programs consisting of two years of liberal arts study in the Junior Division and two years of specialization in the Senior Division. This article hopes to break down how courses at the University of Tokyo function so that you know what to expect if you were to study at Todai!

Course Structure

Each course at the University of Tokyo is typically worth two credits. They run for 105 minutes (this is quite long, not going to lie!), but each class is only held once a week, for a total duration of 13 weeks. Therefore, each course at The University of Tokyo is not so heavy when compared to the likes of universities in the US or Canada. The total class time per semester at the University of Tokyo is about 22 hours, whereas those at North American universities can run for 40+ hours a semester if you were to include lectures, tutorials, and TA sessions!

Although each course is not as academically rigorous as those found in the US or Canada, students at the University of Tokyo must make up for this by volume: they must take a greater number of classes in order to meet their graduation requirements.

Credit Requirements

Credits, credits, and more credits!

The number of credits that students at The University of Tokyo must take differ depending on each faculty. However, for the first two years, all students are enrolled in the Junior Division of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences where they take liberal arts courses at the Komaba Campus. 

Year 1 – Year 2: Junior Division 

During their first two years of Liberal Arts studies, students must finish a total of 56 credits. This equates to about 28 courses, meaning students can take about seven courses per semester spaced over their four semesters in order to finish their requirements. Seven courses per semester is a modest 12.25 hours of classes a week, meaning students have ample time to dedicate to extracurricular activities or part-time jobs.

Nevertheless, most students opt towards completing their 56 credit requirements in just two or three semesters as from the second semester of year two you will also be able to take senior division credits as well. For example, a friend of mine ended up taking 14 courses (resulting in about 24 hours of classes per week) over two semesters, which lead to a completely free first semester year two. He decided to dedicate this time to complete a full-time long-term internship.

The average number of courses that students end up taking is about 8 – 12 courses per semester. This way, they can complete all their credit requirements in the first semester of year two and get a head start towards tacking their Senior Division credits.

Year 3 – Year 4: Senior Division 

Although many students find the workload of Junior Division courses to be not so heavy, it gets noticeably more difficult in the Senior Division. 

The credit requirement is different for each faculty: for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, students must take 76 credits whereas those enrolled in the Faculty of Medical Sciences have to take 90+! 

Although the credit requirements seem extremely large, it is not so significant as the graduating thesis takes about 14 credits itself. However, the workload increases a lot from Junior division courses to Senior division courses. Whereas readings would be about 20 pages per class per week in Junior Divison, it is closer to 70 to 100 pages in Senior Division.

Therefore, for students entering the Senior division, it is encouraged to try and span out all your credits evenly by taking about six courses per semester. This will allow you to fulfill your graduation requirements without overloading yourself.

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What do some courses at The University of Tokyo look like?

For the PEAK program, the subjects taught vastly differs between The International Program on Japan in East Asia and The International Program on Environmental Sciences.

The International Program on Japan in East Asia

The courses in The International Program on Japan in East Asia focus on a multidisciplinary approach to the social sciences and humanities. Topics can range from International Politics, History, International Relations, or Economics. Courses often consist of 30 – 100-page readings each week, two essays, and one final exam or term paper.

The International Program on Environmental Sciences 

The courses in The International Program on Environmental Sciences focus on a multidisciplinary to the sciences and environmental systems. Topics can range from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Ecology. Courses often consist of fewer readings but more weekly quizzes, followed by a more weighted mid-term and final exam


The courses at the University of Tokyo greatly differ between the Junior Division and Senior Divison. Although total semester class time is rather short in duration than courses offered at North American universities, students at the University of Tokyo have to compensate this by ultimately, taking a larger number of classes to meet their credit requirements. This suggests that perhaps studying at the University of Tokyo provides students with the opportunity to broaden their academic expertise, avoiding specializing in a narrow field by taking on an array of different subjects and specialties.

To learn more about the University of Tokyo, see the following links!

Requirements for Admission at the University of Tokyo
The University of Tokyo Dormitories: Komaba Lodge
Study at the University of Tokyo PEAK: Chris’ Story