Thinking about going to university in Japan? Japan is a country of ancient tradition and modernity, where the old meets the new and is valued and cherished. Japan has one of the best education systems in the world, with some universities in Japan ranked among the best in Asia.

Here, let’s take a look at how to find a university in Japan that suits your needs. We will start by giving you an overview of what to look for when choosing a university in Japan, then we will present some of Japan’s most prestigious universities, as well as some lesser-known but still excellent institutions.

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How to Find a University in Japan

How to find the right university in Japan How to find a university in Japan

There are many options for finding a university overseas, and it can vary from person to person. Firstly, and probably the most important factor you should consider, is what you want to study. For most foreign students, studying at a university in Japan would probably mean either studying the Japanese language or taking classes taught in English, or both. If you are fluent in Japanese, then you will have a lot more options, although most universities, especially higher-ranked ones, offer programmes in English and Japanese classes. Figure out exactly what you want to study and focus on during your time at a university in Japan.

If you are already enrolled in a university, look for study abroad opportunities. Many schools with a Japanese programme will offer a semester or a year to study at a university in Japan. Depending on your programme and your university, the opportunities you could apply for could be very different. Consult your teacher and/or career counsellor to understand your options. By applying through your school, you also have the benefit of support and the possibility of earning credits for your time in Japan.

University in Japan Google Search

A great way to look for a university in Japan is by doing a simple Google search. There are many amazing universities in Japan. Google can provide you with a long list of options. Be sure to know what you’re looking for. For instance, consider where in Japan you want to study, what programmes you want to enrol in, what kind of environment you want to be in, and what school clubs or circles you would like to participate in.

A thing you can do to find your university in Japan is to ask around. If you have Japanese friends, teachers, or co-workers, get their advice. Join Facebook groups, online forums, and communities, and talk to people. Learn where others have studied and what they liked and disliked about their universities.

How to Apply to a University in Japan

How to find the right university in Japan How to apply to university in Japan

Now that you’ve found a school, how should you apply? Each school is a little different, so be sure to read thoroughly what you need to do. However, here are some basic tips that will help you.

Be organised. Have all the documents you might need and know the deadlines for applications, interviews, visas, etc. Ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines or information.

Second, write a fantastic personal statement. Discuss your goals, and how excited and committed you are to studying overseas. Explain why you are a great fit for the school. The university wants to know why you are applying and if you would be a good student for them. When writing, don’t be afraid to self-reflect and consider why you are going overseas and your goals. Also, don’t hesitate to brag a little.

Third, have a great interview. Be confident. They aren’t expecting you to be perfect, just honest and polite. Also, dress and look appropriate if the interview isn’t a phone call. Interviews can be nerve-racking, but when you enter the interview with confidence, knowing what you want and need, you can stand apart from other applicants. (It could also be beneficial to study some polite Japanese greetings and culture.)

Fourth, contact the school if needed. If you are unsure about something, have questions, or simply have no idea what to do, contact the school. It’s better to ask questions than miss something important. Most universities understand the difficulty of going to a university overseas, so they will be understanding and helpful.

University in Japan Quick Tip

A quick tip is that most universities in Japan recruit twice a year. One for the spring semester starting in April, and another for the autumn semester beginning in September. Each university sets its own specific deadlines, so keep up to date with all the information.

Most schools require documents such as:

  • Application form
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcript from high school and/or university
  • Graduation certificate
  • Valid standardised test scores (SAT/ACT/TOEFL/IELTS/EJU)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Passport photocopy

There might be more documents needed, but this is just a basic list to prepare.

Scholarships/Part-Time Jobs

Again, scholarships differ depending on the university you are attending. Be sure to check the university’s website for all the information you need. There are plenty of scholarships, so don’t be afraid to apply for some. Some scholarships are long-term, up to a year, and are paid monthly, while others are just a one-time amount. Most scholarships are only for enrolled students with a student visa. You might have a better chance of applying for scholarships after your study in Japan has started.

You can also work in Japan as a student. You’ll need to get a work permit, which usually allows students to work 28 hours during school weeks and 40 hours during semester breaks. Note that students are not allowed to take jobs related to nightclubs. Most students work in shops or restaurants, and you will need to speak Japanese, but part-time jobs aren’t too hard to find. If you aren’t a good Japanese speaker yet, you can also find jobs on campus, like helping a teacher or giving private conversation lessons.

Top Universities in Japan

How to find the right university in Japan Top universities in Japan

What is “best” depends on what you value, but here is a brief list of the “best” universities in Japan in terms of ranking and some of the reasons why they are popular with international students.

The first on our list is the highest-ranked university in Japan, the University of Tokyo. This university has a strong global reputation and has many different subjects and majors. 

Kyoto University is another great option. It is ranked second highest in the country. They also have many different majors and global opportunities.

Osaka University is another big University that is popular and has multiple majors and programs to choose from. They also have a good international program. 

Nagoya University is ranked 5th in the country. They have a great number of programs and degrees as well as a good international program. 

Yamanashi Gakuin University is another great university for international students. This international university offers a four-year degree in multiple different fields. 

Tips to Find the Right University in Japan

How to find the right university in Japan Tips to find the right university in Japan

Even if you have a preferred university in Japan, make sure to apply to at least three schools. It’s really important to keep your options open. Plus, even if you don’t get into your top choice, your second or third choice might be even better than you realise. So, apply to more than one school and see what happens.

Stay informed. Things are constantly changing. Continuously check the university’s guidelines and information about the country itself. Keep up to date with Japan student visas, university rules, and even student work and scholarships.

Pay attention to details. You don’t want to find yourself in a difficult situation. Ensure you have a place to stay, a way to get food, etc. It’s probably a good idea to visit universities before you go, if possible. Also, pay attention to visa information, scholarships, and student work opportunities.

Your Next Steps for Studying at a University in Japan

Studying at a university in Japan offers an incredible opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage and cutting-edge innovation of the country while receiving a top-tier education. By carefully considering what you want to study, researching universities, and staying organised throughout the application process, you can find the perfect fit for your academic journey.

Remember to explore various options, seek advice from those with experience, and remain adaptable as you navigate this exciting path. We hope this guide has been helpful, and we encourage you to dive into more resources on our blog about living and studying in Japan. Good luck with your educational adventure!