International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is a globally-recognized test of English proficiency, has become really common in this day and age. Many people are taking and re-taking IELTS just because they believe attaining a high IELTS score is the best way to prove that they have the English language proficiency to enter a top university.

But dis you know that without the IELTS certificate, you are still able to open doors by yourself to international academic and professional opportunities in many institutions across the world?

  • IELTS is not necessary when applying to an English-based program in some Japanese institutions.
  • IELTS does not affect your chance of being accepted or rejected by some Japanese universities.
  • Without IELTS, you can still apply for some prestigious universities in Japan.

Check out four main ways to study abroad in Japan without IELTS below:

#1 Submit Other English Certificates

If you wish to enroll in English-taught programs at Japanese universities, submitting an English certificate as proof is a must. Besides IELTS, there are many other language certificates that are accepted by Japanese universities as proof of proficiency in the language. Some English certificates that are accepted by Japanese Universities are as follows:

  • SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)
  • ACT (American College Testing)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  • TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication)
  • Cambridge Tests Scores
  • EJU (Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students)
  • High School Curriculum (more information below, in #2)
  • Standardized Exam Cutoff Scores for Universities with English Programs
  • IB (International Baccalaureate)

Overall, please note that the scores of the aforementioned certificates necessary for admission might vary between universities and between the programs offered. 

Here are some of the top-tier universities that offer English-based programs without the IELTS requirement. Please note that we are only giving examples for you, meaning that the list is not a complete.

  1. The University of Tokyo

It would be a mistake to overlook the University of Tokyo when considering the list of top-tier institutions. After all, it is the best university in Japan. For English-based programs, students can present TOEFL scores or Cambridge English Qualifications, which vary according to the program in question. Typically, you are required to submit TOEFL of 100 or above, or Cambridge English Scale of 185 or above.

Moreover, students who have received an English-medium education for at least four years of the first six years of their schooling and at least five years of the second six years of their schooling are exempted from submitting the test scores mentioned above.

2. Keio University

Keio has a history as Japan’s very first private institution of higher learning. It has over 300 partner institutions overseas and is one of the top universities in Japan for its number and quality of double degree programs with top universities abroad. 

For the standardised Test Scores that are accepted by Keio University, they require applicants to submit one (or more) of the following:

  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma (or predicted grades)
  • SAT or ACT Scores

3. Tokyo Institute of Technology

Widely recognized as a leading technical institute, the Tokyo Institute of Technology is one of Japan’s top schools. It ranked 56 worldwide and even reached 19 worldwide for Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Many of their graduates have gone on to win Nobel prizes in the sciences. This university offer only Global Scientists and Engineers Program (GSEP) that is taught entirely in English. Applicants are required to hand in results of any English proficiency tests as proof of English ability, but no specific score was given. The same applies to all graduate programs.

4. Waseda University

This well-known university accepts various types of standardized test scores: SAT, ACT, IB, A-Level, GAOKAO, GSAT, CSAT, HKDSE, UN, AISSCE, O-NET, Baccalaureate, Abitur, Provincial Exams of Canada, etc. The minimum score for each test is based on the program you are applying for.

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5. Meiji University

Meiji University offers a variety of ways to prove your English proficiency. A minimum score of 80 if you present your TOEFL results will be considered as sufficient proof. Additionally, you can present your SAT scores or your ACT results to prove that you’re proficient in the language.

These are only among the universities with English-based programs that accept proofs of English sufficiency aside from IELTS. However, there are other alternatives ways to study in Japan without IELTS.

#2 Use your high school curriculum

If you went to school in an English-speaking country, you don’t need to take IELTS. Graduating from such an institution demonstrates that you speak the language, even if you’re not a native English speaker. Furthermore, if your school is not located in an English-speaking country but they hold classes in English, you can study in Japan without IELTS. However, students would need to secure a certificate indicating that the medium of instruction in their school is English. It also applies to those who receive their high school education in an international school.

#3 Pursue your education totally in Japanese-based programs.

If you are have long been interested in Japanese culture and have been taking language courses, you might have a level sufficient to take your higher studies in Japanese. The test to examine your Japanese level is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). With a sufficient JLPT score, you are can be eligible to apply for any Japanese University.

#4 Enter Japanese Language Schools

There’s a harsh truth you must know before deciding to come to Japan to study: you must have a good command of Japanese! You could join the community of international students that are currently learning Japanese in Japan. If you’re determined to not only learn the language but also work and live in this country, this could be a great first step for you. Immersed in a Japanese environment, most students at language schools are able to improve their language skills through intensive classes, daily communication with Japanese people, tests that are carried out almost every day, as well as tasks to be completed at home. Furthermore, if you’re interested in pursuing higher studies after this, you can wait until you have attained the necessary level. Then, you can apply for a program that’s taught in Japanese. By the time you are completely fluent in the language, you’ll have greater chances of pursuing job opportunities in the country.

Source: Shinjuku Gyoen Gakuin Japanese Language School

For more information why you should choose Japanese Language School as your first step, please visit:

In conclusion, IELTS should not stop you from achieving your goals in Japan. It should not discourage you from setting foot on the Land of the Rising Sun! If there is a will, there’s a way!