カテゴリーのアイコン Life in Japan
The Best Japanese Universities for International Students
Jan 25, 2024
14 min read
Twitter Image
Top Image

As an emerging study abroad destination, Japan is one of the best choices for any prospective international student. If you are interested in exploring modern cities as well as stunning world heritage sites, studying at a university in Japan may be the perfect choice for you. The question is, which Japanese universities are the best for international students?

Why You Should Study at a Japanese University as an International Student

Japan attracts a lot of people who want to visit, study, work, and live here. Not only is it one of the safest countries in the world, but it is also full of culture, with numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Studying in Japan is a brilliant choice for students seeking a high-quality study abroad experience with unique opportunities. If you are looking for the perfect university to continue your bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. and have a desire to experience college life in Japan, this article will help you decide which Japanese university is best for you and give you some secret tips for scholarship applications.

Which Japanese Universities Are the Best for International Students?

1. The University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo ranked 23rd worldwide and 1st in Japan in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. The total international student body as of 2022 is 4,624. There are many English-language programs for either undergraduate or postgraduate international school students, ranging from Engineering to Economics. Furthermore, it is possible to study at the university either as an academic exchange student or as a full-time student for the duration of your degree.

Below you can find the schools of study available at the University of Tokyo. Make sure to read through the syllabus carefully for any language requirements!

Undergraduate Faculties:

Post-graduate Faculties:

Tuition at the University of Tokyo is dependent on the level and year of study, so make sure to read their website for up-to-date tuition fees. International students at the University of Tokyo are eligible to apply for scholarships from the Japanese government, ranging from 117,000 yen to 145,000 yen per month. The scholarship amount is dependent on the type of program you are enrolled in. In my opinion, the scholarship amount is enough to cover your living expenses while staying in Tokyo, which is one of the cities with the highest cost of living in Asia.

For information regarding applications to study at the University of Tokyo as an international student, please check out this document.

2. Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University ranked 141st worldwide and 7th in Japan in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. As of 2022, 2,074 international students from 134 countries were enrolled at the university.

If you're not a fan of hot weather, living in Hokkaido may be for you; the highest temperature in Hokkaido is 26 degrees Celsius in summer. You can learn how to keep warm in cold places from this article and foods that help keep you warm from this article.

The Japanese government offers a scholarship for international students consisting of 117,000 yen - 145,000 yen per month, which is dependent on the type of program enrolment. Since Hokkaido is the coldest region in Japan, they offer 3,000 yen extra during November to March for students as a cold-weather allowance to cover the cost of heating and electricity.

Below you can find the academic departments available at Hokkaido University. Make sure to read through the syllabus carefully for any language requirements!

Undergraduate Schools:

Graduate Schools:

For Hokkaido university’s prospectus for international students, please check this document.

3. University of Tsukuba

The University of Tsukuba ranked 312th worldwide and 11th in Japan in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. There are roughly 2,000 international students currently studying at Tsukuba.

The University of Tsukuba offers a wide range of international programs, from undergraduate to doctoral programs, in areas such as Life and Environmental Science (Biology, Agrobiology, Geoscience), International Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary Engineering, Global Issues, and Medical Science. A wide range of Masters and Ph.D degree programs are also available in fields such as Biology, International Relations and Public Policy, Geology, and Medical Sciences.

To access the University of Tsukuba’s guidebook for international students, please check this page.

You can find the academic programs available in English at the University of Tsukuba in the list below. Make sure to read through the syllabus carefully for any language requirements!

Undergraduate Programs:

Graduate Programs:

4. Nagoya University

The University of Nagoya ranked 112nd worldwide and 6th in Japan in the 2023 QS World University Rankings.

They offer a scholarship for international students ranging from 123,000 yen - 153,000 yen per month. The scholarship amount depends on the enrolment program.

The university offers the G30 International Programs which are full-degree programs taught in English. Make sure to read through the syllabus carefully for any language requirements!

Undergraduate Programs:

Graduate Programs:

You can find Nagoya University’s guide for prospective students here in Japanese and English as well as in Chinese.

5. Chiba University

Chiba University ranked 490th worldwide and 16th in Japan in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. Over 2,000 international students were enrolled during the 2019 academic year!

The University of Chiba only offers graduate programs in English. To study there as an undergraduate, you will need to be proficient in Japanese. If you're interested in the university’s international exchange program, please check this website for information on the English courses available for short-term students.

Below you can find the academic schools available for graduate students in English. Make sure to read through the syllabus carefully for any language requirements!

Graduate Schools:

  • Graduate school of Science
  • Graduate school of Nursing
  • Graduate school of Engineering
  • Graduate school of Horticulture
  • Graduate school of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Graduate school of Advanced Integration Science
  • Graduate school of Medical and Pharmaceutical Science Law School
  • Graduate school of Science and Engineering
  • Graduate school of Humanities and Studies in Public Affairs

The Criteria for Receiving Scholarships From Japanese Universities

1. Grade Point Average (GPA)

To be awarded a scholarship in Japan, a GPA of 2.30 - 3.00 over the last two years of study is the minimum GPA requirement.

2. English Proficiency Test

Most universities in Japan require a TOFEL (internet-based analysis) score of 80+ or an IELTS score of 6.00+ (reading, listening, speaking, and writing must not be less than 6.00) as a minimum criterion for English-language programs. While the TOFEL and IELTS exams are the most commonly accepted English language examinations for study, immigration, and work requirements, their scores are valid for only two years. However, while the TOEIC exam only has a listening and reading test, the TOEIC certification never expires. It is the standard English exam for assessing the English language skills needed in the workplace.

3. Japanese Proficiency Test

Some universities also require the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). The JLPT certification never expires, but examinations only take place twice a year, in July and December. In order to prepare yourself for the exam, you may find this article helpful.

Japanese Scholarships for International Students

Japanese Government (MEXT) scholarships

This is one of the most popular scholarships for students looking to study abroad in Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology has been inviting international students to study in Japan since 1954. There are plenty of study programs available for international students in Japan. Academic levels that can apply for this scholarship are graduate school students, research students, undergraduate students, and junior college students. The scholarship amount is dependent on the enrolment program, and all applicants must participate in the program for at least one year. For more information about the Japanese Government Scholarship (Monbukagusho - MEXT), please check out this website, which is available in multiple languages, such as English, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) Scholarships

JASSO has provided the "Monbukagusho Honors Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students" for many years. This scholarship is for applicants who participate in the Student Exchange Support Program to participate in short-term study in Japan (at least eight days). Applicants must have been accepted by a Japanese university under a student exchange agreement or similar arrangement with their home universities. Students from all countries that have diplomatic relations with Japan can apply for this scholarship and receive 80,000 yen per month. I personally had the honor to receive a JASSO scholarship and come to Japan. It was one of my dreams to spend time as a student in Japan, and through the JASSO scholarship, I was able to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move here and experience Japanese culture!

Local Government and International Associations' Scholarships

Local government and international associations in Japan provide scholarships to students who live in their district as well as those who attend school in their area.

Private Scholarships

Private companies or organizations provide these scholarships. This is to reflect the objective and character of the company or organization. Awards are granted to students attending school in a specific district, studying particular subjects related to their company, or attending a company-sponsored exchange program. However, these kinds of awards may require that scholarship recipients work at the company after graduation. The working duration and contract depend on each scholarship.

Scholarships Available Aboard

While most awards are only available after coming to Japan, several local governments, international associations, and private foundations also accept overseas applications.

For local governments and local international associations' scholarships, private foundation scholarships, and scholarships available aboard, they provide scholarships for students studying high school and junior college courses and undergraduate, master's, doctoral, and research degrees. The scholarship amount depends on the enrolment program, the applicant's country of origin, and the duration of study. Some may have additional requirements. The applications usually only ask for documents such as school transcripts, but some also require an interview as well as a written exam. Please make sure of the requirements and prepare your documents well in advance of any application deadlines.

Paydays and payment methods depend on each scholarship. However, if you find that your scholarship does not cover your entire budget or if you would like some spending money as well, I would suggest you work a part-time job. Most of my friends and I had part-time jobs (called バイト baito). This is very common for students in Japan. It is a great way to get experience applying for jobs, with baitos being the first step before trying out post-graduate job hunting. The hourly wage in Tokyo is 1,000 yen–1,500 yen, whereas in the suburbs it is around 800 yen. If you are looking for a job in Japan and want to know how to deal with the job hunting period during the first half of every year, read this article to prepare yourself!

However, there are many rules about part-time jobs in Japan. As a holder of a student visa, you will be restricted to working a maximum of 28 hours a week, and up to 8 hours a day. Fortunately, during school holidays, this increases to 40 hours a week. One of the strictest rules is that underage workers are not allowed to work after 10 p.m. If you are over 18, no such requirement applies to you, but make sure to keep in mind public transport schedules!

Nevertheless, you have to be careful about the tax. If you have a part-time job and get a salary, you need to pay income tax. If your annual employment income is less than 1,030,000 yen, you will not have to pay the filing fee for your income tax return. In addition, all residents of Japan are required to pay residence tax. It is imposed on all registered citizens. The tax amount is based on your income from the previous year.

Apply to Study at Japanese Universities!

The world is your oyster; do not miss out on the opportunity to experience college life in Japan! There are so many opportunities available for both exchange and international students, so the selection of a university is one of the most critical decisions to make prior to your arrival! I hope that this article stimulates your curiosity and helps you discover your dream university. Soon you will be sitting in one of the classrooms, participating in lectures, or designing an experiment in the laboratory!

Author's Note: This article was written based on the latest information available from each university website. Application requirements, scholarships, and course content are subject to change.

Written by

Guidable JobsへのTOPページ
latest article thumbnail

Summer in Japan: Ways to Stay Cool

Jan 25, 2024
3 min read
latest article thumbnail

20 Japanese Phrases You Must Know

Jan 25, 2024
4 min read
latest article thumbnail

How to Obtain a Japanese Driver’s License in Japan and Enjoy Driving

Jan 25, 2024
13 min read
latest article thumbnail

How To Enjoy Sushi Like a Pro!

Jan 25, 2024
5 min read
Search Icon
My Job Icon
My Jobs
Sign Up
Log In