An Overview of the University of Tokyo 

Out of all universities in Japan, the University of Tokyo is one that cannot be missed. The university was established in 1877 as an imperial university and is still considered to be the most prestigious university in Japan.

The University of Tokyo is a large scale academic hub with 10 faculties and 15 graduate schools that are home to a total of 30,000 students, out of which 2,100 are international. It is one of the top schools selected for the MEXT’s Top Global University Project in which it will become an example of the competitiveness of Japanese higher education.

university of tokyo, campus

Department of Architecture

While the University of Tokyo is often known for its strong humanities or natural sciences majors, for those who lean towards creative fields, the university also offers strong liberal education programs.

The Graduate School of Engineering’s Department of Architecture consists of four major courses: architectural structure, architectural environment, architectural planning, and architecture. Full-time faculty members of the graduate school include 13 professors, 10 associate professors, and 1 instructor.

Program for International Students

International students who are interested in pursuing a degree in architecture and urbanism in Japan may find the Global 30 Urban Design and Architecture Course at the University of Tokyo a great choice. The program offers students a unique opportunity to learn about the interdisciplinary design research that connects different facets of the field, such as architecture, engineering and computations.

Students will be nurtured to develop strong technical design skills, as well as a novel perspective for architecture. The school emphasizes the notion that the practice of design does not only lie in the design itself but in the social constructs and the selection of materials. The program stands out thanks to its dedication to help students explore the potential of architecture, from which they will be enabled to create new ideas for the evolving built environments.

The objective of the Global 30 Special English Course is to provide education to promising, qualified students from all around the world, and to generate opportunities for talented students to share and collaborate on research projects on a global scale.

A small cohort of 10 students is admitted to the Architecture and Urban Design course at the Department of Architecture every year, which ensures that each student will receive careful and individualized guidance from the teaching faculty at the school.

In order to apply for the program, applicants need to submit the following documents: 

  1. Formatted Application Forms
  2. Academic Transcript (Bachelor’s degree)
  3. Academic Transcript (Master’s degree)
  4. Grades and Grading System
  5. Explanatory Letter of Certified Documents (English Translation)
  6. Certificate of Graduation (Bachelor’s degree)
  7. Certificate of Degree/Diploma (Master’s degree)
  8. Letter or Certificate of Expected Graduation (Bachelor’s/Master’s degree, if applicable) e.g. Certificate of Expected Graduation, Certificate of Enrolment, Provisional Degree Certificate
  9. Letter of Recommendation (two letters)

In the first round, the Department will conduct document screening of the applications. Then, applicants who have passed the first stage of assessment will be invited to an online interview with admission examiners via Skype. Applicants will be asked to present a portfolio of their past work and answer questions concerning their motivation in applying for the University of Tokyo. After two rounds, the Department will make its final decisions on successful applicants and send out formal acceptance notice accordingly.

Notable Alumni 

Four alumni of the University of Tokyo have received the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in the past, which is to “honor a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture”. 

Toyo Ito (1941 – )

Architect Toyo Ito graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1965. His works demonstrate conceptual architecture as he aims to simultaneously express the physical and virtual worlds. Famous buildings designed by Ito in Japan are Tower of Winds in Yokohama built in 1986 and Sendai Mediatheque built in 2001.

Kenzo Tange (1913-2005)

Architect Kenzo Tange received the renowned prize in 1987. He was one of the most significant architects of the 20th century through his skillful combination of traditional Japanese styles with modernism. His legacy includes his original designs of many major buildings on five continents. He was a creator of many outstanding works in the second half of the 20th century. Not only did Tange produce numerous distinctive buildings in Tokyo, other Japanese cities, and cities around the world, but he also designed plans to change the physical landscape of Tokyo and its surroundings. Furthermore, Tange was also an advocate of the Metabolist movement.

Fumihiko Maki (1928 -)

After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1952, architect Fumihiko Maki proceeded to continue with his education at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, then studied at Harvard Graduate School of Design, graduating with a Master of Architecture degree in 1954. His work is known as explorations of the usage of new materials and fuses the cultures of east and west. He is one of the founders of architecture and urban design and planning study programs at Keio University in Tokyo.

Arata Isozaki (1936 – )

Hailing from Oita Prefecture, architect Arata Isozaki graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1954. Isozaki has left impressive designs both in Japan and throughout the world. However, he is known as a creative architect who refuses to be confined to only one certain style, as each of his designs is created based on the context of the project. 


Throughout the years, the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo continues to attract outstanding talents who have made significant breakthroughs in the field of architecture. The Global 30 Urban Design and Architecture Course offers international students an opportunity to be trained under professors full of expertise and to create their own path in this ever-evolving creative field. 


Department of Architecture, The University of Tokyo

“The University of Tokyo” – Wikipedia

Toyo Ito & Associates

Tange Associates

“Arata Isozaki” – The Pritzker Prize

Maki and Associates