Each year, Japan attracts thousands of international students to its tertiary institutes. According to the most recent figures, Japanese universities and graduate schools took on more than 126,000 students from abroad in 2021. So what is the appeal of studying further education in Japan?
In this article, we explore the types of further education available in Japan, and three reasons why you might want to experience higher education here.
Types of further education in Japan
Before we look at why you might want to study further education in Japan, let’s understand what the options are first.
University (大学 Daigaku): like in other countries, university is where you go to study for a Bachelor’s degree. These are typically four years, although some degrees like medicine take longer.
Graduate school (大学院 Daigakuin): where you can work towards your Master’s or Doctorate. Usually these are in the same field as your undergraduate degree.
Vocational college (専門学校 Senmon gakkō): these schools teach specialized and practical skills. Examples of fields you can study at a vocational school include: agriculture, nursing, beauty and makeup, fashion design, broadcasting, and more. Most degrees take two years to complete, and upon completion, graduates can either enter the workforce or enter the third year of university, as long as they pass the university entrance exam.
Junior college (短期大学 Tanki daigaku): in Japan this refers to a higher education institute that focuses on providing both general and specialized education in certain fields. They are largely targeted towards women, although many men now attend too, and include education in humanities, education, and social science. Most junior college courses are two years and result in an Associate’s degree.
Why study further education in Japan
Being able to work in Japan is one of the top reasons people choose to complete further education in Japan. But what other reasons might there be? Here are three!
Get a world-class education
Japanese universities consistently rank highly in global university rankings, so the education quality is high. British university evaluation agency QS Quacquarelli Symonds listed five Japanese universities in the top 100 of its 2023 list: University of Tokyo (23rd), Kyoto University (36th), Tokyo Institute of Technology (55th), Osaka University (68th), and Tohoku University (79th).
In total, 50 universities from Japan were included in the rankings, which took into account 1418 universities around the world.
It can also be comparatively more affordable to study in Japan than other countries. Fees for Japanese universities are lower on average than those in the United States and the United Kingdom. As an undergraduate in Japan, you can expect to pay around 820,000 yen (US$6240) for the first year of admission and tuition fees to a national university.
Note that this amount is an average and the exact amount will depend on the school you attend. There are also scholarships that students can apply for if they need financial assistance.
Obtain a degree that’s recognized in Japan
Going to university isn’t for everyone. But unfortunately, unless you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, or many years of work experience, it’s difficult to live and work in Japan.
Vocational college degrees and diplomas from overseas aren’t always recognized by Japanese employers. They also don’t fulfill Japanese immigration’s requirement that work visa applicants have at least a Bachelor’s degree.
Studying at a vocational college or junior college in Japan means you can get a qualification that’s recognized by Japanese employers and by immigration.
Note that in some instances, the type of course you do and qualification you get means you won’t be able to apply for some visa categories, or it might be difficult for you to find work. It’s best to double check this with the school if you have any questions.
Immersion in Japanese language, culture and society
This is one of the best, and also one of our favorite, reasons to study in Japan! You’ll gain a deeper understanding of Japan’s rich culture and society by living in it each and every day. And since the language is so closely tied with the culture and society, your language skills are bound to improve even more significantly through this experience.
There is always something to do – a festival to celebrate, a performance to see – and that’s on top of the student activities you’ll be able to take part in when studying at a tertiary education institute in Japan.
E-track study options
Some universities in Japan offer “English track”, or E-track, study programs. This is where certain majors are taught in English and students can get a four-year Bachelor’s degree without needing to know Japanese.
E-track courses are a great option for those who aren’t confident yet with their Japanese language abilities. The vast majority of undergraduate courses offered at Japanese universities require students to have a good level of Japanese, usually JLPT N2 or higher. The university entrance exam is in Japanese, and if you are admitted, your lectures and exams will be in Japanese too.
Most E-track universities offer Japanese language courses, so students can learn the language while they study. This is crucial because once you start job hunting and working, you’ll need to know the local language!
E-track courses also tend to be more culturally diverse, as more people with different backgrounds can take part. What’s not to love about making friends from all over the world?
Go! Go! Nihon partners with Beppu-based Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. Through their E-track program, you can access three of their degree courses in English, while learning Japanese in a multicultural environment at the same time. These degrees are the Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Social Science, and Bachelor of Sustainability and Tourism.
Read more about this university on our website.
Prepare for further education in Japan with Go! Go! Nihon
Convinced that completing higher education in Japan is for you and you want to get your language skills up to scratch? Get in touch with our friendly team to discuss your options. We offer assistance in applying for Japanese language schools, as well as vocational colleges and universities in Japan.
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