Frequently asked questions

General questions

I am interested in studying in Japan. Where can I get general information? 

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You are at the right website! Please feel free to explore different pages within this website, which also contains links to other useful websites and materials.

You are also welcome to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How long does it take to apply for a university in Japan? Where should I start?

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First of all, an academic year at Japanese universities starts in April or in October. The application period for the April entry is around August-October of the previous year, whereas it is around November-January for the October entry. Considering the time you need to look for a school and a programme and to apply for and get the result of a language proficiency exam that some universities ask you to submit, it is recommended that you start your preparation at least one year in advance.

I currently live in Africa. Do I have to travel to Japan to apply?

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No, you do not need to travel to Japan to apply. Generally, applications can be submitted to universities either by post or online. Please check with the universities you wish to apply for more details on their application methods.

Undergraduate studies

What are the eligibility requirements to apply for an undergraduate school in Japan?

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In order to be eligible to apply for universities in Japan, you have to satisfy one of the following:

  • Individuals who completed 12 years of formal school education
  • Individuals who have completed high school education of less than 12 years AND completed a preparatory course at designated universities or institutes
  • Individuals who have a foreign university admission certification, such as the International Baccalaureate, Abitur, Baccalaureate, or GCE A-Level (specified by each country)

For more information, please see the Undergraduate studies page.

Is there an option to study only in English?

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Yes, there are around 150 programmes at undergraduate level that are taught fully in English. For more information, please see the Undergraduate studies page.

How can I find schools and programmes?

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To find schools and programmes, please see the section “Finding schools and programmes” in the Undergraduate studies page

What is the application and admission schedule?

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Japanese universities do not have a collective nationwide application period. Most common application period are between June and January. For exact dates of application periods, please check with the universities that you are interested in applying to.

Admission takes place either in April or September/October.

I have an International Baccalaureate (IB). Am I eligible to apply for universities in Japan?

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If you have an IB and are 18 years old or above, you are eligible to apply for universities in Japan. More than 50 Japanese universities consider IB scores when screening candidates. For detailed admission guidelines, please visit here.

I completed 11 years of high school education and now I am doing a foundation year. Can it be counted as 12 years of education requirement to apply for a university in Japan?

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In some countries, high school education is for 11 years. In such cases, you will be eligible to apply for a Japanese university once you complete the high school education and a one-year foundation course.

My school does not use GPA. How do I know if I meet a minimum requirement?

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If your school does not use GPA, please use the converter here to calculate the GPA from your academic record.

Do I need to contact a potential supervisor before I apply?

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No, for undergraduate studies, you do not need to contact a potential supervisor before application.

I want to apply for an undergraduate school in Japan which has a scholarship. How can I find such schools and programmes?

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In general, students need to apply for schools/programmes and scholarships separately. So please make sure you apply for both schools and scholarships. Some scholarships can be applied before of upon your enrolment to a school, whereas there are more scholarships that you can apply for through the university that you are enrolled in. Some schools and programmes also offer tuition fee reductions and exemptions if you have excellent academic records. For more information, please see our Scholarships page.

How many years does it take to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Japan?

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Undergraduate studies in Japan are for four years (except for medical, dental, veterinary and pharmaceutical programmes, which are for six years). The total length of the study period also depends on transfer credits and the need for a preparatory Japanese language course.

What is the acceptance rate and do we need to submit a SAT score?

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It is difficult to know the acceptance rate. It varies depending on each university.

In general, applicants only need to submit a score of an English language proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC or the EIKEN Test). In some cases, universities might ask you to submit other scores depending on your chosen area of studies. Please contact each university for more details.

Postgraduate studies

What are the eligibility requirements to apply for a postgraduate school in Japan?

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For Masters programmes, students must satisfy one of the following:

  • Japanese university graduates
  • Students who have completed 16 years of school education in countries other than Japan
  • Students who have completed a programme with standard study period of minimum three years at universities or equivalent institutions in countries other than Japan and received a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent

 

For PhD programmes, students must satisfy one of the following:

  • Students with a Japanese Master’s degree or students with a Japanese professional degree
  • Students who have been awarded with a Master’s degree or its equivalent or a professional degree by a university or an institution in countries other than Japan
  • Students who have graduated from universities and have been involved in a research at universities or research centres for minimum two years, and recognized as having academic competency equivalent to those with Master’s degree

For more information, please see the Postgraduate studies page.

Is there an option to study only in English?

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Yes, there are around 1,400 programmes at postgraduate level that are taught fully in English.

For more information, please see the Postgraduate studies page.

How can I find schools and programmes?

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To find schools and programmes, please see the section “Finding schools and programmes” on the Postgraduate studies page

How can I find schools and programmes?

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To find schools and programmes, please see the section “Finding schools and programmes” on the Postgraduate studies page

What is the application and admission schedule?

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Japanese universities do not have a collective nationwide application period. Most common application period are between June and January. For exact dates of application periods, please check with the universities that you are interested in applying to.

Admission takes place either in April or September/October.

Do I need to contact a potential supervisor before I apply?

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Yes, for postgraduate studies, it is strongly recommended that you contact your potential supervisor before applying to discuss your area of interest and to see if he/she can supervise your studies and researches. Most schools have contact details of faculty members on their websites.

My school does not use GPA. How do I know if I meet a minimum requirement?

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If your school does not use GPA, please use the converter here to calculate the GPA from your academic record.

 

I want to apply for a postgraduate school in Japan which has a scholarship. How can I find such schools and programmes? 

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In general, students need to apply for schools/programmes and scholarships separately. So please make sure you apply for both schools and scholarships. Some scholarships can be applied before of upon your enrolment to a school, whereas there are more scholarships that you can apply for through the university that you are enrolled in. Some schools and programmes also offer tuition fee reductions and exemptions if you have excellent academic records. For more information, please see our Scholarships page

 

What is the acceptance rate and do we need to submit a GMAT or GRE score? 

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It is difficult to know the acceptance rate. It varies depending on each university. However, if you already have published articles in academic journals, it will be an advantage for admission to postgraduate studies.

Regarding different test scores, in general, applicants only need to submit a score of an English language proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC or the EIKEN Test). In some cases, universities might ask you to submit other scores depending on your chosen area of studies. Please contact each university for more details.

Postdoc

How can I apply for a postdoc in Japan?

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In Japan, postdoc opportunities are not generally publicized, and they are decided through discussions between universities and professors. If you know professors who have contacts with universities/professors in Japan that are in your area of interest, you may wish to consult with them. Please also note that, in order to conduct a post-doc in Japan, candidates are required to secure financial resources for it first. Once you are sure to have a financial source, you can start applying for a postdoc.

Transfer

I am currently a sophomore (the second year) at college. Is it possible to apply for a transfer and enroll as a third-year student at a university in Japan?

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There are universities that offer transfer programmes at undergraduate level but each university has different formats and requirements. Therefore, it is important that applicants meet the transfer requirements of the university he/she wish to transfer to. Please note that transfer is not always allowed every year, there may be a transfer exam, and credits that you have earned in another university may not be transferrable. For more details, please check with the university you are interested in transferring to.
You can also access the list of universities with a transfer system here, or search schools from here.

Exchange programmes and short courses

I am a student at one of the universities with an exchange programme agreement with a university in Japan. What is the application procedure?

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Application procedures for exchange programmes are set by the guidelines between your current university and your affiliating/host universities, with which your school has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Please check with the international relations department of your university for more details.
You can also search Japanese universities that offer exchange programmes to their affiliated universities from our data portal.

I am interested in joining a short-term study programme a university in Japan. How I can find such programmes? Are there short programmes with a degree?

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In general, short-term course students are considered non-regular students, hence short-term courses are not meant to obtain a degree regardless of the length of programmes, which varies from a few weeks to a full academic year.

For more information on short-term study programmes, please see here.
To search for short-term programmes, please visit here.

Language requirements

Is there a certificate of English proficiency required for application?

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Most Japanese universities require applicants to submit an English proficiency certificate such as TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC and the Eiken Test for application. In some cases, however, submitting a proof that you studied in English for past years can substitute the certificate. This needs to be checked with the university you are applying to.

English is an official language in my country. Do I still have to submit an English proficiency certificate?

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It depends on each university, which sets its own application requirements. If the university that you are applying to requires you to do so, you will need to submit the score. In some cases, however, submitting a proof that you studied in English for past years can substitute the certificate. But this needs to be confirmed by the university you are applying to beforehand.

I graduated from high school/undergraduate school where I took my courses in English. Do I have to submit an English proficiency certificate?

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It depends on the university that you are applying to, which sets its own application requirements. Some schools accept the submission of a proof of your studies and/or obtaining a degree in English. Please make sure you check with the university before application.

Do I need to submit a Japanese proficiency certificate?

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A Japanese proficiency certificate is required when you apply for a programme taught in Japanese. Hence, it is not required if you are applying for a programme taught fully in English.

Do I need to be able to speak Japanese when applying for schools?

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If you are applying for a programme taught fully in English, Japanese proficiency is not required. However, your ability to be able to speak Japanese will make your life in Japan easier and will also be an advantage when looking for a job there.

Scholarships

Where can I get information on scholarships?

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The first thing you can do is to visit our Scholarships page.
You can also follow us on our Facebook and Twitter, where we regularly post updated scholarship information.

How can I get a scholarship and what is the eligibility?

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In principle, you need an excellent academic record to apply for a scholarship. Each scholarship, however, has different eligibility and requirements in terms of, among others, levels of degrees it supports, areas of studies, schools you are enrolled in, age limits. For more details, please see our Scholarships page as well as the information on scholarships you wish to apply for.

Are there any scholarships that do not have age limitation?

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Yes, while some scholarships such as the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship has an age limit, others do not have one. For more details, please check the information on each scholarship that you are interested in applying for. Please also refer to the List of Scholarships for Undergraduate Students and List of Scholarships for Graduate Students on our Scholarships page, which contain information on age limit of different scholarships.

What is the MEXT Scholarship? How can I apply?

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Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship is the scholarship offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. There are two types of MEXT Scholarship - (1) the one that needs to be applied through Embassy recommendation, and (2) the other to be applied through Japanese university recommendation. You are normally asked to have a good academic record of minimum 2.3 of GPA out of 3.0. Please visit our Scholarships page for more information.

Where can I get detailed information on the MEXT Scholarship?

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First, visit our Scholarships page. The MEXT Scholarship covers full tuition, monthly allowance, and a return flight ticket between Japan and your home country.

MEXT Scholarship through Embassy recommendation needs to be applied through the Japanese Embassy in your country. For more detailed information on application procedures and deadlines, please contact the Japanese Embassy in your country. The list and contact details of Japanese Embassies and Consultates can be found here.

You can also click on the following links for more information on the MEXT Scholarship.

When is the application period of the MEXT Scholarship?

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In general, the application is open from April to May of the previous year that you intend to study in Japan and the screening is conducted by the Embassy in May/June. For exact information on the deadline, please contact the Japanese Embassy in your country. 

What preparation is required to apply for the MEXT Scholarship? Are there any written exams?

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Yes, written exams are part of the screening process of the MEXT Scholarships. For undergraduate students, Japanese, English, mathematics and science exams are required, whereas for postgraduate students, Japanese and English exams are required.

What is the preferred GPA score that is required to apply for the MEXT Scholarship?

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You need to have a high academic performance record of at least GPA 2.3. However, even if you do not meet the score, you can still apply for the MEXT Scholarship.

If your university does not use GPA itself or the GPA of 0 to 3 point scale, please recalculate your evaluation marks using the link here for your reference.

How much does the score of Japanese language exams affect the MEXT scholarship screening process?

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It depends on the decision made by the Embassy of Japan. Some state that the Japanese score does not have a negative impact, and they prioritize scores of other exams such as English, mathematics and science.

Do I need to contact a potential supervisor when I apply for the MEXT Scholarship?

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MEXT Scholarships applicants for Embassy Recommendations are advised to contact Japanese universities and potential supervisors for provisional acceptance only after passing the first screening of the MEXT Scholarships. If you apply for other scholarships, however, you are advised to contact your potential supervisors before submitting application documents.

Are there scholarships for short term courses?

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There are not many scholarships for short term courses. However, if you choose a short exchange programme conducted based on the MoU between universities, the tuition fees are normally covered by the universities. Please contact your school for more information about exchange programmes.

Are there scholarships to study Japanese language?

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Yes, there are a number of scholarships that support studying Japanese language. You can search such scholarships here.

I would like to know about scholarships under the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.

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Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) is an international programme by Ashinaga Foundation which supports orphaned students to study at a university abroad by covering tuition fees, accommodation, travel costs and other fees.

For more information, please visit Ashinaga Africa Initiative website.

Are there scholarships that I can apply for after arriving in Japan?

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Yes, there are a number of scholarships available that can be applied for after enrolment in schools and after arriving in Japan. Please see Scholarships page for more information. 

Preparation for departure

What is the process of a visa application to travel to Japan to study?

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You need to apply for a student visa at the Japanese Embassy in your country before your departure to Japan. For more details on required documents and procedures, please see here and contact the Japanese Embassy or Consulate.

Can I get assistance to apply for a passport and a visa?

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A passport and a visa can only be applied by an applicant himself/herself. We are hence unable to assist you on this matter.

Who pays the costs of a passport and a visa?

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The costs to obtain a passport and a visa must be borne by an applicant.

I want to learn Japanese before travelling to Japan, but there are no schools nearby that offer Japanese courses.

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There are a number of institutes that provide both face-to-face and online Japanese courses. Please visit Learn Japanese page for more information.

The University of Zambia (UNZA) also offers Japanese short courses (both face-to-face and online) supported by the Hokkaido University Africa Office in Lusaka. The application is open from time to time, and the information is put on UNZA Facebook when it is open.

Living in Japan

How much does it cost to live in Japan?

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According to the study by Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the average monthly expenses (excluding academic fees) of an international student in Japan are around JPY 93,000 (As of 15 August, approximately USD 700). However, the living cost depends on many factors including the region where you live. The living cost is more expensive in Tokyo and other big cities, and it is less so in other regions.

You can access more detailed information on living cost in Japan here.

Can I work while studying in Japan?

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A student visa granted to international students, whose status of residence is “Student”, does not allow students to work. However, if students wish to work to cover tuition fees or other necessary expenses, a part-time job up to 28 hours per week (and up to 8 hours a day during long school holidays) is allowed if you apply for “permission to engage in activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted” at the immigration office. For more information, please check here.

Please note that those who are receiving a scholarship need to double check with its rules and regulations. Some scholarships do not allow for a part-time job. 

Is it possible to take my spouse with me to Japan?

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Bringing your legal family members with your student visa is possible, but you need to consult with your university on the required procedures.

Do we need to have an insurance to stay in Japan?

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Yes, all international students who will stay in Japan for more than 3 months have to subscribe the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme.

Please read here for more information on NHI, and consult with your university on how they can assist you with the procedure.

Career and internships

What are the career paths after getting a degree in Japan?

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Please see our Jobs and career paths page for more information.

Is it possible to get a job in Japan after getting a degree?

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The employment rate of international students at Japanese companies is increasing. They are keen to hire talented and highly capable people regardless of nationality.

JASSO provides a detailed information and guidance on employment in Japan here

The Japanese government has also established a system of preferential treatment in order to accelerate the inflow of highly-skilled international professionals to Japan. For further information, visit here.

Are internship opportunities available while studying in Japan?

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Yes, there is an internship programme for international students by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan. The application period is usually between April to June (subject to change each year). For more information on this programme, please see here

For other internship options, please visit here.

Please note that if your internship is a paid-one, or if you wisht to do an internship whose working hour is more than 28 hours per week, you need to obtain "permission to engage in activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted" at the immigration office.