Tohoku University is located in Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, about 350 km north of Tokyo. Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region and the second largest city north of Tokyo, presents a very calm and peaceful atmosphere. There are higher number of universities compared to the population size, which may be why Sendai is often referred to as the “Academic City.”

Tohoku University was founded in June 1907, under the name Tohoku Imperial University by the Meiji government as the third Imperial University of Japan, following the Tokyo Imperial University (1877) and the Kyoto Imperial University (1897).

In September 1907, the faculty of Agriculture was set up in Sapporo, which was ceded to Hokkaido Imperial University in 1918.

The Science Department and the Medical Department were set up in 1911 and 1915, with many others to follow in later years such as the faculty of Education, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and more. The university assumed its current name, Tohoku University, in 1947. In 2017, Tohoku University was selected as one of the three designated national universities out of 86 national universities in the country.

The principles that define the soul of Tohoku University are: ‘Open Doors,’ ‘Research First,’ and ‘Practice Oriented Research and Education.’ Thanks to the ‘Open Doors’ policy, Tohoku University was the first university in Japan to accept female students and foreign students.

Tohoku University Ranking

Composed of 10 undergraduate schools, 15 graduate schools, 3 professional graduate schools and 6 research institutes, it is one of Japan’s distinguished comprehensive universities. Tohoku University is ranked 3rd overall amongst the Japanese Universities according to Japan University Rankings 2018 published by Times Higher Education (THE). With 6,500 teaching staffs and a student body of approximately 11,000 undergraduate students and 7,000 graduate students. This includes about 2,100 international students from 97 countries and regions as of May 2018.

Acceptance rate for the English taught undergraduate course- Future Global Leadership Program (FGL) for international students is around 17% for International Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (IMAC-U), 35% for Advanced Molecule Chemistry (AMC), and 50% for Applied Marine Biology (AMB).

What do the students have to say?

Find out on the Tohoku University Community Page!

Tohoku University has a lush campus in a city atmosphere

Campuses and Facilities

The ancient castle grounds of Sendai’s famous feudal war lord, Masamune Date, are home to most Tohoku University’s facilities. Tohoku University has four campuses, Aobayama, Kawauchi, Katahira, and Seiryo, spread across Sendai. Kawauchi is the campus where all the undergraduate students spend their first year and half, taking the general education classes. Aobayama Campus houses the School of Engineering, School of Pharmacy, and the School of Science. The School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Sciences and the Tohoku University Hospital are located in Seiryo Campus. Katahira Campus accommodates the Administrative Offices of the University and also the world-famous Advanced Institute for Materials Research, one of the nine World Premier Research Institutes in Japan.

Tohoku University has four housing complexes. University House Aobayama, University House Sanjo, University House Katahira, and University House Nagamachi. University House Aobayama and University House Katahira are on-campus dorms whereas University House Sanjo and University House Nagamachi are off-campus dorms. Students can stay in the dorms for a duration of two years or less. All the dorms have almost an equal proportion of Japanese and International Students. All incoming international students are provided with dorm facility.

Sanjo House is one of Tohoku University's student dorms.

Tohoku University Libraries consist of the Main Library located in Kawauchi Campus, Kita Aobayama Library located in Aobayama Campus, Engineering Library located in Aobayama Campus, Medical Library located in Seiryo Campus, and Agricultural Library located in the New Aobayama Campus.

Tohoku University Centennial Hall (also known as Kawauchi Hagi Hall) is the place for the official events and magnificent performances. The Commencement ceremony and Graduation ceremony is also held in this very hall. Besides this hall, Tohoku University also has the Science Campus Hall, Multimedia Research Hall, Sakura Hall, and Katahira Kitamon Commons for various conferences and events.

Tohoku University has a number of museums to preserve its glorious past,  inspiring the future generation of students. Tohoku University Archives preserve and exhibit official and historical resources associated with Tohoku University. The Tohoku University Museum has accumulated academic resources to be used for research and education. The collection has over 2 million specimens, with more than a thousand examples on display at the museum. The Automobile Museum has two classic cars and an F1 engine on display, all of which were donated to the Tohoku University School of Engineering. The Nishizawa Memorial Room is located at the old Research Institute for Semiconductors where Junichi Nishizawa, the former president of Tohoku University, had developed technologies for semiconductor materials.

The Honda Memorial room is dedicated to the scientist, inventor, and Tohoku University President Dr. Kotaro Honda. The memorial room houses personal items belonging to Dr. Honda such as laboratory notebooks and photos. A neighbouring room displays KS permanent magnet steel and other materials/products used in research and development at the Institute for Materials Research. Lu Xun Lecture Hall was built in 1904 and is named after the scholar and literary giant Lu Xun. Often referred to as the father of modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun studied in the hall when it was part of the Sendai Medical College before being integrated into Tohoku University. The exhibition room at the Cyber science Centre was set up to inform people about the history of computer technology development.

Tohoku University facilities encourages student engagement.

The Tohoku University Botanical Garden was founded for research and education in 1958. In 1972, the garden was appointed as a natural monument, a first for a national university botanical garden. The Tohoku University Medicinal plant Garden cultivates approximately 1,200 medicinal plants, used for research in developing new medicines, and as teaching materials.

The six research institutes at Tohoku University, i.e. Institute for Materials Research, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Institute of Fluid Science, Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials, and International Research Institute of Disaster Science are renowned globally for the top-notch research and development.

Degrees offered in English

Being a part of the Top Global University Project under Japanese Government, Tohoku University offers a number of English taught degree courses at Undergraduate as well as Graduate level. The Future Global Leadership (FGL) course offers English taught courses at Undergraduate level. FGL consists of three fields of study- International Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Course (IMAC-U) under the School of Engineering, Advanced Molecular Chemistry (AMC) under the School of Science, and Applied Marine Biology (AMB) under the School of Agriculture. All these courses are four-year degree programs.

Students walking to class on a winter morning at Kawauchi Campus

Credits: Anubrata Nath

Coming to the Graduate level courses taught in English, some of the few worthy mentioning are: The International Graduate Program for Advanced Science (IGPAS), International Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Graduate Course (IMAC-G), International Post-Graduate Program in Human Security (IPHS), International Environmental Leadership Program (IELP), International Materials Science and Engineering Master Course (IMSE), Global Program in Economics and Management (GPEM), The Data Sciences Program (DSP), International Graduate School of Accounting Policy (IGSAP), International Graduate Program in Language Sciences (IGPL), Graduate Program in Global Governance and Sustainable Development (G2SD). International Robotics Program (IRP) and International Biomechanics Program (IBP) have been recently introduced under the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. There are a few graduate courses offered under the School of Medicine as well.

Amongst the aforementioned courses, The International Graduate Program for Advanced Science (IGPAS), International Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Graduate Course (IMAC-G), International Materials Science and Engineering Master Course (IMSE), Global Program in Economics and Management (GPEM), The Data Sciences Program (DSP), International Graduate School of Accounting Policy (IGSAP), Graduate Program in Global Governance and Sustainable Development (G2SD) courses also provide Doctoral courses. The School of Medicine also has a few doctoral course programs offered in English.

It should be mentioned that the Graduate School of Engineering is entirely taught in English. It is a big plus for the international students pursuing Engineering course from the Graduate School at Tohoku University.

Of all the English taught courses, Tohoku university is famous for its Material Science course, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering course, and Medical courses.

For more courses taught in English at Tohoku University, check out this article!

Japanese Language Program

Tohoku University offers a number of Japanese Language Programs in order to suit the curriculum needs of the international students. Tohoku University Japanese Language Education Program aims to provide opportunities for international students and scholars to improve their Japanese and to enhance their adaptability to the Japanese culture. A particular focus is on improving their ability to use Japanese as the means of conducting their research in Japanese. In order to attend these classes, they need to take the placement test at the beginning of each semester. Classes of Level 1,2, and 3 are conducted twice/ week, each class having a duration of three hours. Classes of Level 4, 5, 6, and 7 are conducted once a week, each class having a duration of an hour and a half.

Intensive Japanese Language Program is intended for those students who receive scholarship from the Japanese government and have been admitted to Tohoku University or other universities in the Tohoku region, as a preparation for graduate-level research or teacher training programs. This is a six-month program covering functional Japanese necessary in daily life as well as the fundamentals of the Japanese language essential to specialized research fields in Japan. The program is offered twice a year from April to September (Spring semester) and from October to March of the following year (Fall semester). Each semester consists of 20 weeks of intensive Japanese language study and other activities.

Japanese Program for University Undergraduate is a Japanese course offered as part of the liberal education curriculum. This is designed for those international students who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree from Tohoku University. Those international students who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in Japanese under the general course of Tohoku University will attend advanced level Japanese classes, while those international students who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in English under the FGL Program will attend beginner to early-intermediate level Japanese classes.

The brilliant lights at Pageant of Starlight

 Credits: Anubrata Nath

University Scholarship

Tohoku University offers The President Fellowship to its students. It provides an amount covering tuition fees worth 535,800 JPY/year for the entire duration of studies for international students of excellent character and academic standing. Around 20 Graduate school students and an equal number of undergraduate students receive the scholarship. Application for the scholarship has to be made while submitting the application for admission. MEXT Scholarship recipients and JSPS Fellows are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

Besides these, Tohoku University also nominates students for MEXT Scholarship (University recommended) and JASSO Scholarship. Also, Tohoku University recommends students for private scholarships, which may cover the full tuition fees as well as pay stipend, depending on the scholarship.

An autumn day on campus

Find more scholarships with SchooLynk’s Scholarship Search Tool


Tohoku University, with its ‘Research First,’ and ‘Practice Oriented Research and Education’ policies have succeeded in achieving numerous breakthroughs in the field of science and technology. Nobel Laureate, Koichi Tanaka, has said that the Practice Oriented Research and Education has helped him to have an application-based outlook towards the theoretical knowledge. Gaining knowledge is not enough but applying the knowledge to solve real life problem is what counts. Tohoku University’s approach towards research and development combined with its Open Doors policy attracts the best researchers in their field to accumulate here and spread their knowledge and education among the students.