Higher Education in Japan
Japanese higher education institutions include universities, junior colleges and colleges of technology; however, only universities award bachelor’s, master’s, doctor’s and professional degrees. More than 70 percent of high school graduates obtain some form of higher education.
Why Study in Japan?
Japanese schools have extremely high educational standards and are among the world leaders in state-of-the-art technology and research. In addition to technical acumen, Japanese universities are also highly regarded in other academic disciplines such as political science. Thirteen universities currently offer programs taught in English.
Japan is extremely open to international students; more than 130,000 foreign students study in the country every year. Japan plans to more than double the number of international students by 2020 in part by offering more programs in English.
Universities in Japan
Japan has 618 universities with graduate programs. These universities fall into three categories:
Japanese universities are among the best in the world with 13 schools in the top 400 in the world, according to the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Tuition and Program Duration
Tuition for master’s programs runs from about $9,000 (US) to about $15,000 (US) per year. The Japanese government and Japanese universities both provide many options for scholarships and loans. Master’s programs generally last for two years; however, students who are not proficient in Japanese may need to spend 1-2 years studying the language before admission to a master’s program taught in Japanese. Preparatory language classes are available at 66 private universities and junior colleges.
There are several types of international students in Japan:
- Privately financed foreign students, who may apply directly to a Japanese school once they have obtained sufficient language skills.
- Students studying under the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship program; this program has very exacting requirements and a lengthy application process.
- Own-government sponsored students. Japan has agreements with several countries to assist students with a Japanese education, including Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Uzbekistan.
The Japanese academic year normally runs from April through March. There are typically two semesters, with the first semester running from April through September and the second semester running from October through March. Summer break is usually late July to late August, winter break is late December through early January and spring break is late February through early April.
There are many opportunities for students with master’s degrees to work in industry or conduct research after graduating. In 2012, nearly 8,000 foreign students in Japan found employment in Japan after they graduated. International students must have a specific job offer before they can apply for a change in residency status from student to employment.
International students must have a visa. Students enrolled in a master’s degree program are eligible for a College Student residence status. The student can apply directly for the visa through the Japanese embassy or consulate in the student’s home country, or the educational institution where the student plans to study can make an application to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. Once the student has the Certificate of Eligibility, they will still need to obtain the visa from their home country Japanese embassy or consulate.
In addition to the visa, foreign students must register as aliens within 90 days after arriving in Japan at a municipal office in the area where they reside. Students should carry their alien registration card with them at all times once they obtain it.
International students are eligible to subscribe to National Health Insurance, which covers about 70 percent of the cost of medical treatment. In addition, some universities have special health insurance plans for international students. To obtain National Health Insurance, students will first need their alien registration card. Fees for National Health Insurance vary by locality; the monthly fee in Tokyo is about ¥3,500.
Bowing is commonly used as both a greeting and indication of respect. Bows range from casual bows of about 15 degrees to deep bows of about 45 degrees used to express deep gratitude or an apology. Business bows are in the middle, about 30 degrees.
The Japanese lifestyle includes plenty of exercise and a healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables and seafood.