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Study in Japan

Would you like to study in the land that gave us karaoke, instant noodles and camera phones? Then you will be pleased to know that Japan is implementing many strategies and projects to receive more international students. This Asian country tops the charts in terms of education, security and employment, so it is a very promising destination to start a professional career. If you want to study in Japan you have found the perfect guide.

How to study in Japan as a foreigner? What do you need?

Japan is well-known thanks to its important contribution in the science and technology sector. His legacy in the animation and video game industry was and continues to be one of the most dominant in the market.

In addition to its exotic cuisine and distinctive manga , Japan has much more to offer the international community than just sushi and comics. If we talk about education, it turns out that this small Asian country is one of the most advanced and avant-garde .

In 2015, the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed that the Japanese school system is the most proficient in math, science and reading. With an academic level of 94.6% according to OECD indicators, it is clear that studying in Japan is an alternative that can give your future a 180° turn . Currently, more than 100,000 international students are enrolled in Japanese higher education institutions. Between its modern cities and ancient imperial palaces are 5 of the best 100 universities on the planet . It is also one of the safest countries in the world, with a homicide rate of 0.2. Alright, now that we’ve covered some of the powerful reasons to study in this East Asian nation, let’s look at visas. These are the visas you can apply for to study in Japan :

  • Student visa. It is the main visa that all foreigners must apply for if they want to study in Japan for more than 3 months. Before starting the process, you must have an “Eligibility Certificate” issued by the university or institution in which you have been accepted.
  • Visitor Visa ( short-term stay ) . Visa for foreigners of some nationalities who wish to enter and stay in Japan for a maximum of 90 days.

Another reason why thousands of international students are attracted to Japan is because they want to learn its official language. Studying Japanese in Japan is the dream of many people who, through anime, music, art and general culture, are interested in this language. Without further ado, we invite you to discover everything this country has to offer you as an international student in this complete and updated guide.

How much does it cost to live in Japan?

Shared room
in the capital


Shared room
in another city


2 bedroom apartment
in the capital


2 bedroom apartment
in another city


Bus or Metro ticket


Movie Ticket


A beer in a bar


A beer in the supermarket


Typical Street Food


Meal in a Restaurant


Medical consultation


Phone plans


Average Cost of Living per Month

USD $2,803

If the first thing you think about when evaluating the idea of studying in Japan is how much money you need, we will help you clear up your doubts a bit. Understanding that the budget of each student is subject to variations, it is estimated that a person needs $2,803 dollars to live in Japan for a month . Some claim that with about $850 dollars a month you can cover basic expenses, but this amount is perhaps a bit far from reality. As for accommodation, it is true that there are very varied offers for students. There are very small rooms that can cost just over $250 per month, but they may not be very comfortable. The city where you live also has a direct impact on the budget. For example, according to the Numbeo website, the cost of living in Tokyo is 12% more expensive than in Osaka. The official currency of Japan is the Yen (money symbol: ¥, ISO: JPY) and it is the most used in the country to carry out any transaction or purchase. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, tuition fees range from $4,782 to $14,400, excluding medical, dental and pharmaceutical studies. Compared to countries like the United States or the United Kingdom, the price of higher education in Japan is affordable. To learn more about the costs of studying in Japan, we recommend you visit this page .

Can you study in Japan for free?

Yes, fortunately there are many initiatives and support programs for foreigners who want to study in Japan. In fact, the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit organization, aims to fuel the interest of international students in Japan through scholarships, grants and loans. One of the most popular scholarships funded by the Japanese Government is the MEXT ( Monbukagakusho ).

To apply to this program, all those interested must have a letter of recommendation issued by the university where they have been accepted, or by the consular office in their country of residence. There is also another engaging initiative called the Global 30 Project , which seeks to promote a more international and multicultural Japanese academic environment.

The project is made up of 13 universities that want to admit more foreign students to their programs, as well as open more courses in English.

Study at the University in Japan

Knowing that the university environment provided by the country you plan to travel to is comfortable for you is vital when making a decision. To help you know what it’s like to study at a University in Japan without having to discover it on the fly, here are some interesting facts:

  • There are more than 700 universities in Japan and they are divided into national, local public and private.
  • Programs at the bachelor’s level last between 4 and 6 years.
  • Most of the universities in Japan opt for the semester format.
  • The academic year usually begins in April and ends in March of the following year.
  • Holiday seasons in Japan are usually summer (late July, early September), winter (December/January), and spring (February/March).
  • As a strategy to attract more international students, many Japanese universities have programs entirely in English.
  • The offer of undergraduate courses in English ranges from literature, history, law, psychology and communication, to political science, chemistry, engineering, architecture and biotechnology.

As you can see, the idea of studying in a Japanese university nowadays is quite tempting. Also, there are many universities that are recently accepting more exchange students and signing agreements with institutions abroad. According to the 2021 QS World University Rankings , Japan has some of the best universities in Asia and the world . In position number 24 is the University of Tokyo, the most prestigious in the country and also the one that receives the most foreign students. Other notable universities in the country include Kyoto University, Osaka University and Tohoku University. All these institutions are part of the group of “Imperial Universities” of Japan, which, as the title suggests, were founded at the time of the Japanese Empire (1868-1947).

Requirements to Study at a Japanese University as a foreigner

If something stands out about Japanese higher education, it is that, unlike other countries, they try to make the path as easy as possible for international students . This nation has taken the initiative to attract more foreigners very seriously, so universities ask for “simple requirements.” Although the admission conditions may change from one institution to another, we have found some frequent requirements to be admitted to a university in Japan :

  • Take the “Japanese University Entrance Examination for International Students (EJU)”. It is a standardized test that most universities and other higher education institutions require of international students. Its objective is to demonstrate, through the qualification obtained, that you are prepared to study the program of your interest. The test assesses several basic criteria and can be taken at schools located throughout Asia. To learn more, we recommend you open this link .
  • Present an additional admission exam. Sometimes the EJU is not enough to get into a university in Japan. Some universities require you to take an additional test, which is usually given twice a year. The cost of this test is between $67 and $125 dollars.
  • Hold an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or its equivalent. The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) is a degree accepted by hundreds of universities around the world. The program is aimed at students between the ages of 16 and 19 and is taught in several languages. For more information, please visit this page .
  • Write an essay ( Essay ). It is possible that your university will ask you to write an essay to learn a little more about yourself, such as your character, ability to express your ideas, your ability to think critically, etc. Normally, this essay does not exceed 600 words.
  • Demonstrate your command of English. Any foreigner from a non-English speaking country who wants to qualify for an English course to study in Japan must demonstrate proficiency in the language. The most used exams for this purpose are the TOEFL, IELTS and the Cambridge English Qualifications (C1 Advanced/C2 Proficiency).
  • A recommendation letter. This document must be issued by the principal or teacher of the secondary school where you completed your baccalaureate.
  • Certificate of your grades in high school.
  • Proof that you have sufficient financial funds to pay the tuition. Some institutions may ask you for bank statements or similar documents to prove that you can pay for your studies in Japan. The income you must have depends on the cost of the program you are going to study and the university.
  • Application form. You find it on the website of the university where you are going to study in Japan. In general, in it you must place your personal information, the program you are interested in, educational background, language skills, work experience, among others.
  • Pay the application fee.

Important. Documents required to study at the university in Japan must be in English (if applying for a course in English). If your documents are not in English, you will need to submit a translated copy of each along with the original. Translations must be carried out by an official body or authorized person. Remember that these requirements are indicative and may vary according to the program and the university. To find out exactly what documents you need to submit, contact the university where you want to study in Japan.

Requirements to Study at a Professional Training College

In Japan there are several higher education institutions apart from universities. Among them, we have the Professional Training Colleges or professional training schools. These schools are characterized by offering post-secondary courses in a specific field. Some characteristics of the Professional Training Colleges are:

  • You can earn a diploma by studying 2 or more years, or an advanced diploma by studying 4 or more years.
  • Most vocational schools focus on areas such as technology, healthcare, fashion, economics, education, agriculture, and commerce.
  • Programs at these institutions are generally taught in Japanese.
  • A diploma allows you to transfer to a university, while an advanced diploma gives you access to a ” Graduate School “.
  • Some professions that can be studied at a Professional Training College are an architect, interior designer, car mechanic, nutritionist, nurse, chef, interpreter/translator, flight attendant, film director, video game creator, etc.
  • The vast majority are private.

General Requirements to enter a Professional Training College:

  1. Have completed 12 years of schooling in your country of residence or have an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. There are other options that can be accepted if you do not meet these 2 requirements, but you must seek information directly from the institution of interest.
  2. Demonstrate your mastery of Japanese . To do so, you must take the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and pass level N1 or level N2. There are other tests that can be accepted, such as the Business Japanese Proficiency Test (BJT).
  3. Certificate of qualifications of your last level of study.
  4. Take an admission test.
  5. Application form.

If you want to know more about the Professional Training Colleges and their admission requirements, click here .

How to Apply for University as a foreign student

Both in universities and in Professional Training Colleges, the admission process may vary. The Japanese Government recommends that international students start the process at least 6 months before the date they plan to study in Japan. After attaching the necessary documents and paying the application fee, you must attend an interview and take the admission exam. If everything goes well, you will receive your acceptance letter and you can start preparing to apply for your Student Visa.

In which Universities can I study in Japan?

Since there are many universities to choose from in Japan, we recommend that you take some time to evaluate the academic offer of each one. The university ecosystem in this country is very diverse, so international students have many options at their disposal. Some of the universities where you can study in Japan are:

  • Waseda University
  • University of Tokyo
  • Tokyo Institute of Technology (Meguro)
  • osaka university
  • Keio University
  • Tokyo University of Science
  • Kyushu University
  • Tohoku University
  • Kyoto University of Advanced Science
  • Kyoto University
  • Hokkaido University
  • Kobe University
  • Tsukuba University
  • hiroshima university
  • Rikkyo University
  • Hosei University
  • meiji university

The Most Popular Public Universities in Japan

Private Universities with the best international agreements

Visas to Study in Japan

Without a doubt, do you want to study in this first world country? Below we will tell you about the types of visas, their requirements and the process that you must carry out in order to fulfill your objective and study in this academic powerhouse.

Student visa

The Student Visa is the main visa that all foreigners need to apply for if they want to study in Japan for more than 3 months . In order to apply, there is a specific requirement that you must have: a Certificate of Eligibility. Although it is true that you can apply for a Japanese student visa without this certificate, the process would be more extensive and complex.

Since you do not have a Certificate of Eligibility, you will have to accept the fact that you will be asked for more documents than the ones mentioned below. In addition, the waiting time will be much longer than usual, because the request would have to be studied directly by the Ministry of Justice through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. Similarly, having this certificate does not guarantee the granting of the visa.

Requirements to Apply for a Student Visa

  • Certificate of Eligibility (original and copy). In most cases, the procedures to request this certificate are carried out by the university or institution where you will study. For more details on this, we recommend that you contact your educational provider in Japan to find out if they are in charge of initiating the process.
  • Valid passport. The original document is required + a copy of the page where your personal data is shown. Although there is no minimum validity for this travel document, it is recommended that it be valid for at least 1 year from your arrival in Japan.
  • A good quality color photograph on a white background. The dimensions of the photo must be 45mm x 45mm. It is also important that you appear without glasses, cap, hat or any accessory that covers your face.
  • Reservation of a flight to Japan in your name.
  • Visa application form. You can see it by clicking here .
  • Pay the visa fee. The price depends on the country from where you make the request and the consular office.

Important. Please note that this list of requirements may vary depending on your country of residence.

Process to Apply for a Student Visa

  1. Identify the Embassy or Consulate of Japan in your country. The first step to process the visa that will allow you to study in Japan is to find the consular office that corresponds to you. If you live in Latin America, you can search for your office on the following page . Consider starting the process at least 2 months before the planned date of your trip.
  2. Take the documents. When you already know where to process your visa application, it will be time to bring the documents that are requested. Remember: requirements vary from country to country.
  3. Wait for the decision of the authorities. When you are done with the paperwork, it is time to wait for the answer. This decision can take a few weeks or take more than a month depending on your particular case.
  4. Study in Japan! Did they approve your Student Visa? Brilliant! Now you are ready to study in Japan and be part of one of the best educational systems in the world.

Can you study and work with a Student Visa?

No, the Student Visa does not allow you to work while studying in Japan . In order to have a job as a foreigner, you must process a “Permit to carry out an activity other than that permitted by the residence status previously granted”.

Visitor Visa ( short-term stay )

If you want to do a short course in Japan that lasts less than 90 days , this may be the visa for you. Citizens of some countries who wish to visit and stay in Japan for short stays (less than 3 months), do not always need to apply for this visa. Before continuing, we suggest you open the following link and make sure that your country does not have a visa waiver with Japan. If so, you can enter this Asian country without the need for a visa, as long as it is not for more than 90 days.

Requirements to Apply for a Visitor Visa

  • Valid passport for at least the entire period of time you plan to be in Japan. If you have expired passports, you must also present a copy of them.
  • A recent photo, in color and on a white background (4.5cm x 4.5cm).
  • Copy of your identity document , such as citizenship card.
  • Air reservation of the entire trip. This document must specify everything related to the flight, such as departure and return dates, stopovers, among others. It is not recommended to buy the plane ticket until the visa has been approved.
  • Reservation of hotel or establishment where you will stay in Japan.
  • Activities program . It is a document where you indicate the date and the type of activities that you will carry out in Japan. To get an idea of the format, click here .
  • Certificate of your last level of studies.
  • Letter of invitation from the institution that teaches the course, signed and sealed. If you are going to study in Japan for less than 90 days, you must provide proof of the reason for your visit. This letter will serve to demonstrate to the authorities that you plan to take a course during your brief stay in the country.
  • Proof of financial funds to support you during your visit. To prove that you have enough money to cover your travel expenses, you may need to present a bank statement for the last 3 months or a bank certificate. The amount you should have depends on your country of residence.
  • Visa application form.
  • Pay the consular fee. The price varies from country to country.

Important. The requirements mentioned in the list above are general, that is, they may change depending on your country of residence and your profile as an applicant.

Steps to Apply for a Visitors Visa

  1. Enter the website of the Consular Office of Japan in your country and request more information. To find out which embassy or consulate is responsible for issuing entry visas to Japan in your country, open the following link . Enter the official portal that corresponds to you and verify the requirements that you must meet for your visa application.
  2. Deliver the documents. The next step is to gather and deliver all the documents requested by the representative authorities of Japan in your country. In some cases, you may need to make an appointment for this.
  3. Wait for the response to the request. Now you must wait for a decision to be made regarding your visa application. If you have presented all the documents and you do not have an immigration history that could harm you, you should receive a positive response in a few weeks.
  4. Approved visa? Prepare your trip! With your Visitor Visa in your passport, you are now ready to study in Japan for a maximum of 90 days. Take advantage of it!

Can you study and work with a Visitor Visa?

No, a Visitor Visa ( short-term stay ) does not allow you to work in Japan or engage in any paid activity.

Where can I study Japanese in Japan?

If you are interested in studying Japanese in Japan, the good news is that there are many academies, schools, and universities that offer courses to international students . In private universities and ” junior colleges “, there is never a shortage of a Japanese program for foreigners. This is because there are still many programs that are taught entirely in Japanese (or English and Japanese). Also, almost 100% of the population speaks Japanese as their first language . That is why, even if you are going to study in Japan and your university offers you a program in English, it is best that you take some Japanese classes so that you integrate more easily into the society that surrounds you. Some academies where you can study are:

  • Yoshida Institute . Academy located in Tokyo with a wide variety of intensive and short courses. Classes are typically 10-18 students and are taught entirely in Japanese to speed up the learning process.
  • Akamonkai Japanese Language School . School founded in 1985 that, at present, has taught the Japanese language to more than 20,000 foreign students. It is located in the central part of Tokyo and offers courses of different lengths, including one of only 3 weeks.
  • Hiroshima YMCA . One of the oldest language schools in Japan created in 1938. It offers Japanese courses to foreigners of different lengths and designed to meet the objectives of each student.

Requirements to Apply for a Japanese course

The general requirements to be admitted to a Japanese course in Japan are:

  • Copy of your passport.
  • A passport type photograph.
  • Graduation certificate of your last level of study.
  • Application form.
  • Payment of the application fee or of the entire course.
  • Student or Visitor Visa (as applicable).
  • Take a Japanese test to find out which class is best for you.
  • Learn to read and write hiragana and katakana before starting the course.

How to Apply for a language school to learn Japanese

Each academy or language center may have a specific process for admitting international students to their courses. After starting your online application and attaching the requested documents, all that remains is to wait for the institution’s response. If you will take a course that lasts more than 3 months, remember that you will need a Student Visa and a Certificate of Eligibility to study in Japan. It is likely that the academy of your choice will advise you regarding the visa, but it is best to do your research before starting the process.

There is no specific Visa to study Japanese

Although in recent years the Japanese Government has shown its clear interest in promoting Japanese culture through educational exchange, there is still no visa to study Japanese . We also do not know if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan plans to create a visa for this purpose. At the moment, the visas that you can process to study the official language of Japan are those that we described above. Depending on the duration of the course, you will need a Student Visa or a Visitor Visa (if your nationality requires it).

Scholarships and grants to study in Japan

Although tuition fees at universities in Japan are cheap compared to other countries, it is possible to receive financial support from the government or another institution . Financial aid to study in Japan is based on two types of programs: scholarships and tuition reduction systems. Most of the available scholarships can be applied for after you arrive in Japan, when you have already taken the entrance exam and are ready to start your career. Some of the scholarships for the 2020/2021 period are:

  • Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarships . Japan Government Funded Scholarships target a wide range of international students, from research students to undergraduates and Japanese language.
  • Scholarships by JASSO . Scholarships sponsored by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). The organization offers honor scholarships and scholarships for qualified international students who have been accepted to an educational institution, under an exchange agreement.
  • Global 30 Project by Osaka University . Osaka University is part of the Global 30 Project and thus offers credits to international students in courses and degree programs in different areas.

There are many other scholarships available to study in Japan, so we recommend you open this page to see the full offer for the 2020/2021 academic term.

Study and work in Japan

In order to work in Japan while studying, it is necessary to have additional permission in addition to the Student Visa. This document is known as ” Permission to carry out an activity other than that permitted by the residence status previously granted “. In other words, when processing your Student Visa, you only have permission to study the program at the corresponding institution. That is why, if you want to work, you must go to the immigration office closest to your home and start the process. Here are some aspects that you should consider in order to work in Japan as a foreign student :

  • You can only work part-time jobs that do not affect your studies.
  • Your employment cannot be related to an adult entertainment business, as it is punishable by law.
  • You can work as long as you continue to fulfill your student status at a Japanese institution.
  • You can work a maximum of 28 hours a week, and up to 8 hours a day (full time) during academic holidays.

For more information on this, click here .

Have you finished your studies and want to stay and work in Japan?

With more and more international students enrolling in its universities, it is not surprising that Japan is also making things a little easier for those who decide to stay in the country to work. If you belong to the group of foreigners who want to stay in Japan and look for a job, there are a couple of things you should know. The first, and perhaps most important, is that you must change your residence status to the one that suits your new purpose of staying in Japan. If you are interested in working in a company, you should probably change your status to “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services.”

On the other hand, if you are going to work as a researcher at a university or institution, the most appropriate status would be “Researcher” or “Professor”. To be successful in your job search in Japan, you must take into account that Japanese society is quite competitive in this regard.

Most companies are comfortable hiring foreign people to give a more international impression. However, almost all employers require a knowledge of Japanese, at least at the business level . If you want more information on this subject, visit the JASSO website or the website of The Employment Services Center for Foreigners . At Go-Study-In we have a team of expert advisors who can help you fulfill your dream of studying in Japan. If you fill out the form below, one of our advisors will contact you and give you all the support you need to study abroad.

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