Study in Japan

English-taught undergraduate courses in Japan

10% of students attending our talks at UK schools express an interest in studying abroad in Japan. This is almost twice as much the figure for Singapore. If you are in this 10%, here is everything you need to know about Japanese universities.

Most British students narrow their options to either doing an exchange semester, or learning Japanese in short language courses at Japanese universities. But, why not expand your horizons and do a full Bachelor's degree in Japan?

There are more than 60 English-taught undergraduate programmes on offer at Japanese universities for the 2016/17 academic year. Whether you are interested in business, finance, engineering, international relations or media studies, Japanese universities always have something to offer. You can search all Bachelor's courses taught in English in Japan on our website.

We aim to provide essential information about sensible options and student life in Japan. If you don't find the answer for any of your questions here, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Three reasons why you should go to university in Japan

While it's true that as an international student you will really jump in and experience Japanese culture for four years, travelling and studying abroad are not the same. You're there not just to have a good time, but to work hard toward a degree and successful career.

Here are three reasons why we think getting a Bachelor's degree in Japan is worth it.

1. Japanese universities have a global reputation for quality education.

Investing in education is critical to fostering innovation and growth in Japan, a country with limited natural resources.

Japanese universities are well known for their long-standing reputation as top higher education institutions in Asia. What is not mentioned so often is the impressive global rankings of Japanese universities. In its 2017 global league table The Times Higher Education ranked University of Tokyo 39rd and Kyoto University 91th in the world.

However, there are far more than two big players in Japanese higher education system. The quality of education is not just about rankings. In fact when searching for best Japanese universities for international students, you will probably see very different names than those in league tables, such as Waseda University, Keio University and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU). Having a wide range of degree programmes taught in English and strong partnerships with universities worldwide is the crucial to the success of these universities. Their students benefit not only from international curricula, but also from research and exchange opportunities with top universities in other continents. For example, Keio University is currently running a dual bachelor's degree programme with Sciences Po.

2. Studying in Japan isn't that expensive.

The annual tuition fees in Japan are from £3,000 to £6,000 at public universities, and could go up to £9,000 at private universities. This might be expensive compared to European universities, but it is certainly not at the same level with American, Australian or British universities.

More than 50% of English-taught undergraduate programmes are offered in Tokyo, which ranks near the top on almost every list of the most expensive cities in the world. However, lists of most expensive cities in the world are often geared toward working expats, not international students. Their criteria could include property and car prices. As a student you are more likely to rent a room and use public transport, so your living expenses are considerably lower.

The average monthly living expense of an international student in Japan is £600. You will spend more if you attend a university in Tokyo, around £650 per month. On the other hand, the cost of living in the regions of Kyushu and Tohoku is slightly lower, ranging from £520 to £560 per month.

Japanese universities offer very generous scholarships for students enrolling in English-taught degree programmes. For example, all students of the international undergraduate programmes at Kyushu University are entitled to 50% tuition fee discount. It is also worth checking if the university of your choice offers any fee exemption or waiver according students' academic achievements and/or family incomes.

Additionally, you can apply for the MEXT Undergraduate Scholarship of the Japanese Government. Successful candidates will receive a monthly stipend of ¥117,000 (approximately £800) for five to seven years, including the one-year preparatory education in the Japanese language.

Very few scholarships cover the entire cost of studying in Japan. It is also not practical to earn enough money to pay for your tuition and living expenses with just one part-time job. 75% of privately financed international students in Japan are working part-time, primarily in the food and beverage, sales and education sectors. Their average monthly income is £350. We highly recommend that you ensure sufficient funds before going to Japan.

3. You will be well prepared for employment.

Getting involved in extra-curriculum activities to increase employability is nothing new for British students. However, if you go to a so-called "English speaking" university in Japan, you'll be surprised that students prioritise extra-curriculum activities above all else. Participation in societies dominates student life because employers value soft skills like teamwork, ressiliance and leadership that conventional Asian education doesn't cover.

Moreover, as a foreign student in Japan, you cannot but learn the local language. At the end Japan is not an English speaking country. You will spend time outside of the university, at supermarkets or the cinema where you might struggle without speaking a little bit of Japanese.

Learning Japanese is not easy but it's certainly a useful language to know. Japan has the world's third-largest economy, and Japanese employers are keen to recruit English-speaking graduates to diversify the workplace and go global. Speaking Japanese would significantly improve your chance of getting a job in Japan after graduation, or even find a job with a Japanese company in other countries.

Japanese higher education system - what international students need to know

The higher education system in Japan consists of four different types of institutions: universities, junior colleges, colleges of technologies and specialised training colleges. Onlyuniversities offer English-taught Bachelor's programmes. Private universities provide around 70% of English-taught undergraduate courses.

At Japanese universities, students receive four-year training leading to a Bachelor's degree. The exceptions are medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine programmes, which require at least six years to complete. Unfortunately, these subjects are not fully taught in English in Japan yet.

Higher education in Japan is very much inspired by America. Many Japanese public and private universities both offer degree programmes in Liberal Arts, or incorporate Liberal Arts education in their curriculum. In the first two years of an Engineering degree you would study a range of social sciences and humanities courses, such as political science, economics or history. From the third year onward you will specialise on a subject of your choice.

Japanese universities are struggling to cope with failling birth rate. They have fewer students than their capacities and are therefore very keen to attract more international students. Japanese government has set a target of bringing 300,000 students from oversea to the country by 2020. As a result, you will not only feel very welcomed when studying in Japan, but also benefit from various advantageous policies. You will be able to start your course in September, rather than April when Japan's academic year usually begins. There will also be more staff hired specifically to support international students.

Entry requirements for Japanese universities

The most common method of university recruitment in Japan is through entrance exams. However, a few Japanese universities, especially private instiutions, have created more flexible admission processes for foreign students. For example, Waseda University only requires students to submit an online application form and determines admissions by screening application documents alone. Miyazaki University's admission procedure includes an online application and a phone interview.

Most Japanese universities teaching in English require students to have three A Levels.

When applying for a Japanese university, you will likely be asked to submit the following documents:

  • Certificate of your GCSE results
  • Certificate of your grades in the Lower Sixth or Upper Sixth, depends on which time during the year you make the application.
  • Certificate of predicted scores of your A-levels or AS-level, OR certificate of the results of your A-levels if you have already obtained them before applying to university in Japan.

Application deadlines vary from university to university, so it's best to check with your chosen institution.

When applying to degree programmes in English you will not be required to complete the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU).

Work while you study in Japan

As an international student you can work in Japan alongside your studies, but you must apply for the "Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted" and receive approval before start working.

As soon as you arrive in Japan you can apply for this permission at the local immigration bureau, branch office or detached office. The following documents are required as part of the application:

  • Application form, which can be downloaded from the Immigration Beureau of Japan website
  • Your passport
  • Resident card if you have already received it.

You won't be charged any fee for the application.

With the Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status Residence Previously Granted, you can work up to 28 hours per week during term time. During summer break and other long vacation periods, you are allowed to work up to 8 hours a day.

Universities in Japan

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.