ICU was founded in 1949 after World War II with the mission of nourishing and upholding Christian values in order to cultivate globally-minded citizens who will contribute to lasting peace for humankind worldwide. ICU is committed to becoming a bridge between Japan and the world, which is shown through its bilingual curriculum and appreciation for multicultural values.

When being admitted to the university, students have to sign the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a commitment to dedicate themselves to the advocacy of those rights. This has been a university tradition unique to ICU at the matriculation ceremony every year since the first students were admitted and enrolled in 1953.

ICU and its sprawling campus in the suburbs of Tokyo

Teaching and learning 

ICU aims to provide students with critical thinking skills, a broad span of knowledge across different fields. Furthermore, students are also required to take language classes in either Japanese and English to sharpen their language skills prior to graduation. ICU places a strong emphasis on liberal arts education. Students can take a wide array of courses in humanities or sciences in their first two years in order to explore and determine their most suitable field. Students are allowed to choose to complete their degree as a single major, double major, or major-minor out of 30 majors offered at ICU.

The same framework applies to both Japanese students and international students with no separation of students based on languages, emphasizing “no foreigners at ICU”. Classes are small and focused on class discussions and participation. A student-faculty ratio of 18:1 means that students have ample opportunities to engage with professors and classmates for individualized studies.

The admission rate range is 0-10% making this Japanese higher education organization a most selective institution. 


According to Times Higher Education (2020), International Christian University ranks 11th in Japanese universities and 1st among private ones. However, according to QS World Education (2020), ICU ranks 31st nationally and 218th in Asia, with the ranking categories shown as below:

  • International Faculty: 98.4
  • International Students: 32.1
  • Faculty Staff with PhD: 33.6
  • Outbound Exchange: 79

Because one of the missions of ICU is to boost the liberal arts education, it is clear that the score ICU gets in the “Internationality” category is pretty high. Furthermore, as ICU has arrangements with 75 universities in 25 countries worldwide (as of February 2020), students can also choose to participate in many exchange programs offered by ICU.

When it comes to ranking by subjects, in 2019, regarding Linguistics, ICU was ranked at 251-300th in the world and 16th among Japanese universities. In the area of Arts & Humanities, ICU ranked 451-500th in the world and 17th among Japanese universities.


The main campus of ICU is located in Mitaka, the quiet suburbs of Tokyo, about 30 minutes by train from bustling Shinjuku. The campus is very large with a lot of greenery – at 620,000 square-meter, the campus is even bigger than Tokyo Disneyland. The environment allows students to soak in greenery and indulge in deep thinking in harmony with nature.

Programs taught in English 

Undergraduate level 

Students without Japanese proficiency at the time of admission are allowed to apply. However, English-speaking students will have to take courses in Japanese Language Programs (JLP) to enhance their Japanese proficiency.  ICU operates on a bilingual basis and only 30% of courses at ICU are offered in English. Therefore, English-speaking students will also have to take some classes in Japanese in order to receive credits to count towards graduation. 

Reversely, Japanese-speaking students who are enrolled in English for Liberal Arts program (ELA) will undergo intensive training to enhance their English proficiency by the time of their graduation. The program requires students to complete reading and writing assignments, conduct class presentations, engage in class discussions in English, which trains them intensively to acquire communication and critical thinking skills in English.

Graduate level

Graduate programs at ICU

ICU Graduate School operates on a bilingual system. Among the four different Graduate programs, the number of English courses vary. There is a likelihood that some classes are only offered in either English or Japanese. However, in the Public Policy and Social Research Program, most courses are offered in English. Graduate students in this program are required to select courses and write their Master’s thesis in English.

The application consists of two rounds, with the first round of initial document screening, and the second round of interview with no written exam. Applicants are strongly encouraged to do research on their intended field of concentration. They need to be able to clearly articulate their motivation for pursuing the field in their Research Plan in as much detail as possible in order to increase their chance of being shortlisted for the document screening round. Applicants are evaluated comprehensively based on their competence and motivation, not against other applicants.

ICU Rotary Peace Center / Rotary Peace Fellowship Program

Students will be admitted to the Public Policy and Social Research Program and pursue a Master’s degree in Peace Studies. Prospective candidates need to apply through the Rotary Club in their district of their home country. Rotary Peace Fellowship covers application fees, tuition fees, facilities fees, as well as offers living allowance and additional stipends as research funds.


Applied together with application to ICU

Students applying for ICU are also eligible for merit scholarships upon admission. ICU Peace Bell Scholarship allows for a grant of ¥1 million yen per year for 4 years, within the term of study. ICU Torch Relay High Endeavor Scholarship exempts matriculation fee and 1/3 of the annual tuition and facilities fee of the first year.

ICU Peace Bell Scholarship Award Ceremony, 2019

Applied after matriculation

After admission, current students can apply to a variety of loans, grants, or tuition reduction scholarships. Some of these scholarships are ICU Torch Relay Scholarship for Current Students (exemption of tuition fees), ICU Alumni Association Yuasa / Hosoki Memorial Awards (interest-free loan up to 1 million JPY), scholarships offered by the Japan Student Service Organization (JASSO), etc.

Requirements for these scholarships depend on the academic year that the student is enrolled in, their academic record, their citizenship etc. Students should contact the Student Services Division and keep updated through the university bulletin board to get the most updated information.


On-campus housing 

ICU dormitories are home to around 900 students, which makes up 30% of the student population. Dorm rents range from 310,000 to 600,000 JPY in total for the first year. On-campus dorms are conveniently located near the University Hall, the Dining Hall, and the Library. Selection is conducted based on motivation for living in the dorm and how the student can contribute to the dorm community.

An on-campus dorm room offered by ICU

Off-campus housing 

While housing is not guaranteed for all current students, ICU Services ensure that students can find affordable housing through reliable real estate agencies. 

Homestay with a Japanese family can be arranged, which is quite a rare opportunity as not all Japanese universities support this. Students have to contact Nextage Co., Ltd., a commission partner with ICU to arrange homestays. Homestays can greatly enhance one’s Japanese ability and understanding of Japanese culture.


With an international environment and the appreciation of universal humane values in the name of Christianity, ICU continues to thrive as a diverse campus environment that attracts students from all over the world with dreams of contributing to peace worldwide. If you are interested in a learning environment that places emphasis on developing bilingual proficiency, critical thinking skills, and multicultural acceptance, ICU would likely be a great fit.