Academic year and duration of studies
Undergraduate studies in Japan are for four years (except for medical, dental, veterinary and pharmaceutical programmes, which are for six years). Upon successful completion, a Bachelor's degree is awarded. Academic year starts either in spring (April) or in autumn (September or October).
In order to be able 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 and institutes
- Individuals who have a foreign university admission certification, such as the International Baccalaureate, Abitur, Baccalaureate, or GCE A-Level (specified by each country)
In some countries, formal high school education could be for less than 12 years. In such cases, students must complete a preparatory education course or a course of a training institute designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in order to be eligible to apply for Japanese universities.
The list of designated universities and institutes that offer preparatory courses can be found on the following links.
- List of Preparatory Education Courses Designated by MEXT
- List of Training Institutes Designated by MEXT
For more detailed eligibility specified by MEXT, please see here.
Finding schools and programmes
There are nearly 1,550 programmes (around 150 at undergraduate and 1,400 at postgraduate levels) taught fully in English. You can search schools and programmes at the following data portals:
You can choose medium/language of instruction under "Search by major field or school location"
- List of Japanese universities with undergraduate programmes in English and English/Japanese
- List of university degree courses offered in English (provided by JASSO)
- Study in Japan for Africa data portal
This site provides information on schools and programmes particularly interested in having students from Africa and participated in Study in Japan fair. It also allows you to search for exchange programmes between Japanese and African universities.
Preparing your application
Each university has different required application documents. Please make sure you check the application guidelines of the university you wish to apply to understand the details of your required application documents.
Basic documents required to apply for Japanese universities are:
- Application form (as designated by each university)
- High school graduation diploma
- High school academic transcript
- Certificate of English or Japanese proficiency
English certificate may be exempted if the applicant can prove that English is their primary language of instruction. This, however, should be confirmed by universities you wish to apply to. Japanese proficiency is required if the programme is taught fully or partially in Japanese.
Each university and programme has different application procedures and deadlines, and may require additional documents. Many schools require these documents to be translated either in Japanese or English. Please make sure you check with the universities that you are applying to for more exact details.
Japanese universities do not have a collective nationwide application period. Most common application period is 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.
Whether or not there is an entrance exam and the subject you need to take depend on each school and programme. Some schools require applicants to take a written exam, whereas other schools only have an interview. Please contact the school you are applying to find out more details.
Applying for financial aid
Once you receive the acceptance note for admission from your preferred university, first of all, congratulations! Now one can proceed to either:
- Apply for a scholarship, if the university you applied to has some; or
- Apply for a tuition waiver or reduction, if the university you applied to has the system in place.
There are a number of scholarships one can apply for once you receive an acceptance letter from the university. Application procedures are different depending on scholarships, and some need to be applied for directly by an applicant, whereas others need to be applied for through the university where you will be studying.
Quite often, depending on your past academic records or the performance upon application, university will determine whether he/she is eligible for a tuition waiver. Some will waive up to 100%. Detail should be checked with the university which gave you an admission offer.
You can find more information on scholarships on our Scholarships page.