Universities in Japan: learn how to start your studies in the country

The Japanese educational system is a reference worldwide. The country is home to numerous quality and reputable higher education institutions, which are positioned among the best in the world.

In addition, the Japanese State invests heavily in public policies aimed at education and encouraging science, offering exchange programs and exclusive scholarships for foreigners.

With less competition than the United States and European countries, for example, Japan is consolidated as an alternative of equal quality and provides an even richer experience due to its millenary tradition and culture. Check out the top tips for studying in Japan and the main aspects of university life in the country.

Principles and values are passed on to the Japanese from an early age, and valuing education is an integral part of them. Children are enrolled in schools from an early age, and the country's literacy rate is very close to 100%.

Still, ethics and morals are mandatory components of the school curriculum, bringing an important differential to their schools, which form respectful and concerned citizens with society. These characteristics are reflected in the country's higher education, known for having serious, demanding universities that encourage their students to achieve excellence.

- universities in japan: learn how to start your studies in the country

Exchange Programs in Japan

The quality of life, health and safety in Japan are exemplary, which can be seen in indices such as life expectancy. Japanese citizens live an average of 86 years, placing the country at the top of the list of nations with the best life expectancy.

However, recent data show that the country's birth rate has been falling over the years, which may cause its population to age. Keeping an eye on this information, the government has been dedicated to attracting young people to study and work in the country.

Thus, Japan has exchange programs and offers scholarships for foreigners who decide to study in the country. One of the goals is to receive at least 300 thousand students from abroad. For this, there are two major incentive projects, one offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the other by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).

For universities to become more attractive to candidates from all over the world, they started to offer undergraduate (mostly 4 years) and postgraduate courses, whether masters (2 years) or doctorate (4 years), entirely taught in English. It is important to note that in these cases it is essential to prove proficiency in English, through TOEFL or IELTS tests, at the level required by the chosen institution.

Japanese proficiency is not always necessary or required to enter the country's higher education. Despite this, candidates are encouraged to study and know at least a little of the language before participating in a selection process, as some institutions, such as MEXT, apply Japanese tests and eliminate competitors who score zero.

Although undergraduate and graduate courses use the English language, universities offer Japanese classes to students in conjunction with their programs. In some cases, classes are daily and have an intense workload. This is a very productive way to deepen your knowledge of the language and help you to immerse yourself in the culture of the country.

At Scholarships offered by MEXT are extremely attractive. The courses that participate in the program have full scholarships, the round trip tickets to Japan are paid for by the organization and the student receives a monthly amount to pay for their living during their studies, which can reach up to 120,000 yen (approximately 4,500 reais) .

Most universities offer shared dormitories, where the student shares a room with one or two other people. They are also equipped with cafeterias that offer included or low-cost food.

Requirements for Studying in Japan

The main document required by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is a motivation letter written by the candidate in Portuguese, of up to two pages. It should contain the reasons that led you to choose Japan as a destination for your studies, the desired course, why you want to study it and what are your professional expectations and plans to be developed in the future.

In addition, you must present a letter of recommendation from the last institution you studied at, certified copies of your transcript, high school or graduation certificate, identity document and your foreign language proficiency certificates (if any) , 3×4 photo and completed registration form.

After registration, a selection exam is applied, where some skills are evaluated, being English, Japanese, Mathematics and, depending on the chosen course, Chemistry, Physics and Biology.

JASSO grants, on the other hand, have a different character, of private funding. To be able to apply for a scholarship from the institution, the student must already have a link with a Japanese university, either the direct link with a Japanese university or through international treaties signed between the university of the country of origin and a Japanese institution.

Other requirements include proof of socioeconomic status, good school performance, among others. The scholarships also have monthly financial support, which can reach 80,000 yen (approximately 3,000 reais) per month. 

Some JASSO initiatives offer contact with Japanese companies, which offer part-time jobs (part-time jobs) for students. In this way, students can supplement their income to support living in the country while they study and train the language.

The main vacancies available are for market attendants, restaurants and delivery services, with a workload compatible with studies. About 78% of Japan's undergraduate and higher students also work.

According to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British institution that publishes and analyzes student data from around the world, Japan has two regions that stand out among students. In the ranking of the best cities in the world to study published in 2019, Tokyo reached the 2nd position, while the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe region reached the 18th position worldwide.

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