Waseda University is known for its large international student body. With over 7,900 international students from 125 countries around the globe in 2018, a diverse and dynamic learning environment can be expected. Founded in 1882, Waseda is one of Japan’s top universities with its selective admission rate. According to their personal interests, students who wish to pursue their undergraduate studies fully in English can choose among courses from seven schools listed below:
School of International Liberal Studies (SILS)
SILS was established in 2004 to provide liberal arts education to global-minded students. Instead of focusing on specialized education like other faculties, SILS aim to foster broad perspectives and analytical skills that allow students to think critically. Interdisciplinary courses from a wide range of subjects are available for students to choose from. There are also study abroad opportunities for students who are interested.
School of Political Science and Economics (SPSE)
SPSE offers three types of Bachelor of Arts degree based on the student’s specialization. Students can choose among three majors including Political Science, Economics, and Global Political Economy. Established as one of the original academic units when Waseda university was founded, not only that SPSE has a long history, it also provides students with an international learning atmosphere at the heart of Tokyo.
School of Social Sciences: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Innovation (TAISI)
Established recently in 2018, TAISI is an interdisciplinary studies program offered by the school of social sciences. According to the official website, the program aims to create social innovators who will be leaders of the social change in the future. Students learn about various global issues from diverse perspectives and discover better solutions to those issues.
School of Culture, Media and Society: Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program (JCulP)
JCulP is a unique program that opens up new opportunities for Japanese and international students to learn about Japanese culture in English. Fifteen Japanese students and fifteen international students are admitted each year, making it a relatively small program. Students will be able to deeply understand Japanese history, tradition, and ways of thinking by making sense of the culture from within, and also from the external perspectives.
School of Fundamental Science and Engineering (FSE)
School of Fundamental Science and Engineering offers various English-based programmes: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Electronic and Physical Systems, Computer Science and Engineering, Communications and Computer Engineering, Intermedia Art and Science.
School of Creative Science and Engineering (CSE)
School of Creative Science and Engineering currently offers two English-based programmes. The first programme is Modern Mechanical Engineering, where students can learn about topics such as environment, new energy, or even artificial organs. The second is Civil and Environmental Engineering, which focuses on subjects such as protection and improvement of the environment, both natural and man-made.
School of Advanced Science and Engineering (ASE)
School of Advanced Science and Engineering offers English-based courses in Physics, Applied Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Applied Chemistry, Life Science and Medical Bioscience, and Electrical Engineering and Bioscience.
To get real perspectives on English programs offered by Waseda University, let’s hear from the students in some of these schools.
Nicholas Narmada (Indonesia): 3rd-year student, SPSE (Economics Major)
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
”Hi, I’m Nicholas from Indonesia. I’m a 3rd-year student in the School of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University. My major is Economics.”
What kind of classes are you taking this semester?
“In this semester, it’s a mix of Japanese language class and other classes, Comparative Politics of East Asia, where we can also learn about their history and culture as well. Also, I’m taking Econometrics and some other Economic classes. I’m also taking Data Science, which is actually my favourite.”
That sounds cool! Is it your first time learning Data Science?
“It’s just offered this semester! What I really like about it is that it’s very useful in real life, especially when I do research on something. It’s also useful for my future career as well.”
How big are the classes?
“Actually, it varies a lot. Classes related to history and culture are usually much larger than economics classes. With around 80 students in the former, and around 40 students in the latter. Japanese language classes are usually very small, with around 15 students.”
Are there lots of international students?
“Since this is an English-based program, there are lots of international students. I would say it’s 80% international students and 20% Japanese. International students are from different countries like China, Korea, and Taiwan. There are also some from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, etc.”
How would you rate the classes in SPSE?
“There are good ones and bad ones, but I would say it’s probably around 6.5. Everyone speaks English properly, but some professors’ accents are a bit difficult to understand. The overall content is quite interesting, though.”
What’s the most surprising thing you discovered at SPSE?
“What surprised me the most is that even as an economics major, I still have to learn a lot about history and culture. It’s a really holistic system where you have to learn a lot of things, not just economics.”
What kind of person do you recommend coming to SPSE?
“People who are independent and hard working. You have to do a lot of self-studies, and sometimes it gets really competitive because the grading system is always curved.”
Can you describe SPSE in three words?
Elizabeth Signo (Philippines): 3rd-year student, SILS (Communications Concentration)
Can you introduce yourself briefly?
“My name is Elizabeth, but people call me Eli. I’m from the Philippines. I’m a third-year student at Waseda in the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS).”
What’s your major?
“Well, this gets a little complicated because SILS doesn’t have a major. You study lots of different things. We do have concentrations, but they’re not majors. Now I’m taking media as my concentration because I’m quite interested in it.”
Why did you choose SILS?
“Because it’s taught in English. I came here to Japan with no Japanese at all, and I wanted to study at the university where everything’s in English, so I can take my time learning Japanese while I’m here – that was the plan.”
How do you like Waseda?
“To be fair, Japanese universities are not as rigorous as the ones overseas, in my opinion. I would prefer learning a bit more deeply about some subjects, but sometimes specialized courses are not provided because SILS really focuses on general studies.”
Is SILS diverse? Are there many international students?
“I would say its 50-50. Half of the students are Japanese and the rest are international students.”
How big is SILS?
“There are actually two rounds of entries per year- April and September. I think they accept around 200 freshmen in each round so in total we have somewhere in between 1,000-2,000 students. It’s pretty big compared to other schools.
Do you think it’s too big?
“Not really, I actually think it’s quite small because it’s an English-based program and sometimes I meet some people twice in two different courses I take. I prefer more people.”
Are there a lot of students in each class?
“It depends. If you’re taking a popular class, then the number is around 250. Advanced classes and seminars are much smaller – around 30 to 50. Japanese classes, which are offered by the language centre, are even smaller. There are different kinds of “theme” classes as well, so if you want to practice speaking, writing, or reading, we have classes for that. If you just want to have fun with Japanese, we have that too.”
Speaking of classes, what kind of classes are you taking this semester?
“I’m a third-year student now, so I’m taking a lot of advanced classes to fulfil my credit requirements. I’m taking Media and Communication, Anime – yes we have an anime class! I’m also taking Anthropology, Psychology, and the last one I’m taking is Advertising.”
Which one do you like the most?
“As I’ve said, the contents are not as in-depth as I have expected, but I really like the intermediate seminar on psychology that I’m taking. The professor is really nice and he’s pretty chill – I like that.”
How would you rate the classes?
“It varies a lot, but maybe 6-8. Some of the classes that I took weren’t that interesting because I wanted to learn more in-depth kinds of stuff, but some were pretty interesting. There are lots of professors who graduated from great universities and know how to teach well – you just need to find them.”
What kind of people would you recommend coming to SILS?
“If you are deeply interested in Japan, you should come here. It’s much easier to adjust compared to going to Japanese language schools and Japanese-based college programs afterwards. It’s really tough adjusting to the culture if you choose that route, so I think SILS is a good gateway to gradually immerse yourself into Japanese culture. Still, you have to be open-minded and avoid limiting yourself to only SILS community – you need to get out there and talk to people.”
Last question: can you describe SILS in three words?
“International, Flexible, Convenient”
More details regarding Waseda’s various English-taught course can be found here. Take a look and decide for yourself! If you’re still not sure if Waseda is the right choice for you, check out Sophia University here, and stay tuned for the next article where we will cover PEARL and GIGA, the English-based programs at Keio University.