Soka University was founded in 1971 by Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai’s third president. Soka Gakkai is a Japanese Buddhist religious movement, founded in 1930, which upholds the teachings of 13th-century Japanese priest Nichiren. Soka in Japanese means “creation of values”, and Gakkai means “society” or “association”. Adhering to the mission of the organization from which it was founded, the university is committed to creating the good in humanity and remaining steadfast in the face of obstacles. The university strives towards educating students who will eventually create values and serve others to society.
Soka University experiences an increase in its rank in every category of the ranking in both THE Ranking and QS World Ranking. According to Times Higher Education Rankings (2020), Soka University is ranked 75th among Japanese universities, which was a jump from 2018’s 121–130th. Impressively, Soka University was ranked 16th place (20th last year) in the “internationality” category. Moreover, according to QS World University Ranking (2020), in the category “International Faculty”, Soka University’s score is 88.3/100, and its score in “Outbound Exchange” is 60.6, showing that the university is making efforts to establish a truly global environment for students.
The ranking consists of 16 items in the four categories of educational resources, the educational degree of fulfillment, educational outcome, and internationality. It is designed to measure the university’s ability of education, such as in student growth and learning outcome, in addition to appraisals by high school faculties and corporate personnel.
What can we tell from Soka’s Rankings?
The criteria of the aforementioned THE and QS Rankings are all designed to measure the university’s ability of education, ranging from the quality of the university to the students’ learning outcome. Therefore, in the internationality category in which Soka University was ranked 16th nationally is evaluated based on the ratio of foreign students, Japanese students studying abroad, lectures conducted in foreign languages, and the number of exchanges with universities abroad. Thus, it is implied that Soka University has been actively creating new values on a global stage and offer the most promising opportunities for students to become global citizens.
As a member of the Top Global University Project sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Soka University has established relationships with 210 universities in 60 countries overseas, with around 60% of its students studying abroad, participating in various international exchange programs. This demonstrates why the category “Internationality” of Soka is that high. The university will continue to exert itself toward the mission of enriching its campus in internationality where students from various backgrounds can gather and learn from each other.
Located in Hachioji, suburbs of Tokyo, the sprawling campus size at 870,000 square meters is a combination of both Soka University and Soka Women’s College. It takes roughly one hour to get to Shinjuku, the city center of Tokyo, from the campus of Soka University by train and bus.
Compared with a small number of 7,549 students in both undergraduate and graduate levels, the university boasts ample space for learning facilities and green areas for students to engage in studies and on-campus school activities.
Tuition Fees and Financial Aids
As a private university, annual tuition fees for Soka University ranges between 1.1 – 1.5 million JPY per year depending on the program.
Various scholarships for international students are available, some of which are offered by the university after matriculation. International, privately-financed students who show high academic performance and demonstrate their financial difficulties are the likely recipients of these scholarships. Monthly stipends are decided by the university and vary depending on the GPA performance of the student. For example: if the student has an overall GPA of 4.0 or above, they will receive 50,000 JPY per month x 12 months = 600,000 JPY per year.
In addition, there is also an Academic Fee Exemption Scholarship for International Students. This scholarship exempts tuition fees based on household income. Candidates apply at the same time as their undergraduate applications. The results will be announced simultaneously. The scholarship will run for one academic year, after which the student has to reapply.
Programs for International Students
Students can also choose to take specialized classes in Japanese if they want to enhance their professional knowledge in Japanese. The list of programs currently offered by Soka University includes:
- SUCCEED program of the Faculty of Economic
- Faculty of Business Administration Global Program English Track (GPET)
- Faculty of Law Peace and Human Rights (EMP)
- Faculty of Letters AKADEMIA (EMP)
- Faculty of International Liberal Arts (FILA)
Students who would like to apply for undergraduate programs need to submit the following application package:
- Application form
- Statement of Purpose and Study Plan: for each department you are applying for
- SAT score results
- Recommendation letter (designated form) from a high school teacher
- Proof of English proficiency: TOEFL or IELTS
Soka University currently offers four graduate programs in English:
- Master’s Program in International Language Education (TESOL)
- Master’s Program in Economics and Business (IBSP)
- Master’s Program in International Peace Studies (SIPS)
- Master’s Program in Engineering (Information Systems Science Major, Bioinformatics Major, Environmental Engineering for Symbiosis Major)
All students are admitted in September with all classes conducted in English. Students can choose courses and create their curriculum from each program’s areas. For example, in IBSP program, students can choose among the following areas: Accounting, Finance, Management & Strategy, Business Ethics, Human Resources Management, International Business & Economics, etc.
What is unique about Soka University’s programs is that they also include an internship in Japan, which helps ensure that students can enjoy a synergy between their academic training and the application in the real world.
Soka University administers a number of offices that organize a wide range of events and activities in order to support international students. The International Affairs Office oversees a majority of administrative functions related to the acceptance of international students from overseas, scholarship programs, and support for daily life, including student dormitories, as well as support for learning Japanese.
To increase the engagement of international students on campus, Soka University also hosts welcome parties for newly admitted students, New Year’s parties, end-of-year celebrations, or even tours to places of attraction. These activities help bring international students closer to Japanese people and culture and strengthen the bond between the student community and the school.
Soka University offers separate dormitories for male and female students. Students who are enrolled in the Preparatory Language Program, Undergraduate Non-degree Program, and exchange programs are given priority to receive a place in the dormitory. Dormitories vary in occupancy (single or double), and in location (on or off campus), yet they are all convenient to reach the campus and convenience stores.
With its enclosed campus environment, a close-knitted academic body and a dedication to cultivating humane values, Soka University is gaining its popularity with both Japanese and international students. Soka University continues to appreciate and uphold Buddhist values that it inherits from Soka Gakkai and conveys the message through its educational efforts.