Higher Education System in Japan


Higher education in Japan is an integral part of the country’s culture and political status. Indeed, the academic performance of students in Japan is the highest in the country and the world. For this reason, the Ministry of Education maintains control over the management and organization of public policy in Japan.

Minimum standards for curricula, qualifications, and the number of teachers are set by the Ministry of Higher Education. The Ministry of Higher Education focuses on these standards in order to shine in global university ranking competitions. As a result, Japanese universities are at the top of the world university rankings.

Why Study in Japan: Facts and Figures on Higher Education in Japan

The Japanese higher education system is one of the best in the world in terms of quality and performance. The average performance of students in Japan is above the average set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As a result, Japan is one of the best-performing member states in terms of developing students’ skills and abilities.

The deep-rootedness of education in Japanese culture is illustrated by the fact that as many as 90% of Japanese students complete their higher education. In addition, 70% of them decide to pursue postgraduate studies. In total, this makes Japan one of the best-educated countries in the world.

The number of higher education institutions in Japan

  • There are 783 universities in total in Japan: 86 national universities, 92 public universities, and 605 private universities.
  • ┬áThere are 372 colleges in Japan: 22 public and 350 private.
  • The total number of technical universities in Japan is 57: 51 national, 3 public, and 3 private.

Overview of the higher education system in Japan

Students (including foreign students) are distributed proportionally according to the main fields of study. The distribution of fields of study is as follows:

  • Universities: the most popular fields of study are in the social sciences (including economics and economics and politics), followed by the humanities.
  • Colleges: the three most chosen majors are education, economics education, economics, and social sciences.
  • Vocational: the most popular majors are health, culture, education, and engineering.

Types of higher education institutions in Japan

In Japan, higher education has 4 forms: national, local, public and private. Higher education begins after 12 years of education (elementary and secondary). In addition, higher education is provided by 5 types of institutions: colleges, universities of technology, vocational training institutions, universities, and colleges.

Junior colleges

The origin of junior colleges in Japan dates back to the occupation after World War II. They are institutions that mainly offer studies in economics and science, education, humanities, nursing, and sociology. Studies usually last two or three years.

Universities of Technology

Universities of technology are where you should go if you want to specialize in engineering and industry, shipping, and other related fields of study. Programs at this type of institution in Japan last 5 years. Those who choose the industrial track can opt for engineering, information technology, and industrial chemistry, to name a few.

Vocational training institutions

These are institutions that train students in Japan for professional life. They offer vocational and technological education that prepares students for a career in a particular industry. Studies last from one to two years.


In Japan, universities are the institutions that offer undergraduate programs. The length of study is 4 years and can be up to 6 years for medical specialties: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and veterinary science. Japanese universities are either national, public, or private.


These are institutions offering postgraduate studies in Japan. For a master’s degree, the duration of the study is 2 years and for a doctorate, the courses last up to 5 years.

Degrees awarded by institutions of higher education

Higher education degrees in Japan depend on the type of institution in which students enroll.

In graduate schools, there are academic and professional degrees, either for a master’s degree or for a doctorate. You can get your master’s degree after 2 years and your academic doctorate after 5 years of study. If you are enrolled in a professional program, you get either a professional master’s degree (2 years of study), a master’s degree in education (2 years of study), or a Juris Doctor after 3 years of study.

In the universities, you complete your studies to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. This can be academic or professional if you study at a professional university. In specialized schools, you obtain a diploma after 2 years of study and an advanced diploma after 4 years of study.

Finally, in junior colleges, qualifications are called associate degrees. It can also be an academic or professional degree.