The academic year in Japan runs from April to March. Foreign students must have completed 12 years of formal school education before they can join an undergraduate programme.
The university system is split into private and public schools. Public universities refer to schools that are not national universities but are run by local governments. There are about five times more private universities than public.
Individual institutions provide orientation courses for incoming foreign students. A visa granting foreign student status must be obtained before entering Japan.
A Masters programme of study lasts two years, while Doctorate programmes are five years.
Japanese is the language of most courses at university level, so prospective students often spend one or two years in Japan learning the language first. Some private universities offer Japanese language preparation courses for their own foreign students. The Japan Foundation (London Office) administers Japanese language proficiency tests.
There are a growing number of short courses taught in English. Most of these are short term, but there are also a few undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses available. More information is available from Study in Japan . The International University of Japan offers courses in international relations and MBAs in English.
You can find a list of Japanese universities, including their specialisms, and rankings of top universities at Abroad Education .
Each Japanese university sets different entry requirements for postgraduate study. However, it is a standard requirement for all students to have completed 16 years of formal school education (including an undergraduate degree) for admission to graduate programmes, and 18 years for medicine and dentistry programmes.
If you do not have the necessary qualifications but are at least 22 years old (24 for programmes in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science) and have recognised academic ability equal to or above that of a college graduate, you may also qualify for admission to a graduate school. Individual universities may set entrance exams to establish your aptitude.
Students normally enrol in April, so it is necessary to apply in advance of this time. Some universities permit students to enter at different times, such as in October. Check with the individual university for specific application deadlines.
For postgraduate study, applications are made individually to each university. These applications generally include proof of Japanese language ability, funding to cover costs, references, academic transcripts, a copy of your passport and photographs. For further information, see Education Japan .
Expect to pay 1million yen upwards for the first year of a Masters or Doctorate programme. Fees vary depending on the subject of study and whether the university is private or national.
Average monthly costs are around 138,000 yen. The Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO) has some excellent downloadable PDFs with further information and a breakdown of living costs.
Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation scholarships offer language study and a work placement to outstanding graduates.
The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) offers MEXT scholarships. They are available for UK undergraduates or for graduates who want to do postgraduate-level research. Applications should be made through the Embassy of Japan in the UK .
The Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO) provides scholarships to international students and also lists other organisations that provide scholarships to international students.
Almost all Japanese universities have exchange programmes arranged with international universities. For information on applying to your university for an exchange to Japan, see Study in Japan .
Japanese postgraduate qualifications are recognised in the UK for further study and by employers. For further information, visit UK NARIC (National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom) .
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