How to Apply to a Japanese University


Japan is home to hundreds of private and public universities. It also has one of the strictest educational systems in the world. For this reason, getting into a Japanese university can be really difficult.

In fact, those who want to study in Japan have to pass many tests in order to be accepted. However, how competitive is it for international students to get into Japanese universities? Are the requirements the same for international students? And finally, how can international students apply to a Japanese university?

We have already talked about the higher education system in Japan. We also talked about universities and the number of years it takes to finish university in Japan.

After that, we talked about the best majors to study in Japan. Then, there were the best choices for foreign students according to their future goals. In this article, we will discuss all the details and requirements for applying and being accepted into a Japanese university as an international student.

Academic Requirements in Japan

You normally have to take only one set of exams to be accepted into a Japanese university. However, at reputable universities such as the University of Tokyo, there are normally several rounds of entrance exams to take.

Universities do this in order to weed out students with poor grades early on and determine the number of students who can take the second, more complex set of exams.

These tests are the reason why high school students study at two schools at the same time for several years. Despite their hard work and preparation, 40% of Japanese students do not get into the university of their choice. Therefore, most students wait and study for an extra year instead of going to their second or third option.

On the other hand, international students go through a completely different process. In fact, it is easier for international students to be accepted. This is because the Japanese government encourages diversity on campus. As a result, international students do not have to take difficult entrance exams administered by universities.

Instead, they must pass the EJU exam, through which international students will be granted prior admission or, in some cases, Monbukagakusho Honors scholarships to study at Japanese universities.

Basic requirements to enroll in a Japanese university

The following are the basic requirements to be accepted and enroll in a Japanese university as a foreign student:

  1.  A valid passport.
  2. You must have completed 12 years of schooling in your home country. You usually need to have a recognized high school diploma.
  3. Documents proving your ability to pay the cost of living, education, and health insurance for the duration of your studies.

While fluency in Japanese is advantageous, it is not a mandatory requirement.

The University Entrance Examination for International Students (EJU)

The EJU is the means by which many Japanese universities assess whether international students have the academic and language skills to enroll in undergraduate studies in Japan. The EJU exam covers the following subjects:

  • Japanese as a foreign language (for those enrolling in Japanese language programs only).
  • Science, including physics, chemistry, and biology.
  • Mathematics.
  • Japan and the World.

Applicants choose which test to take based on the university they wish to study at. In addition, they commonly specify the language in which they wish to take the test: Japanese or English (in this case, they do not take the Japanese proficiency test).

Importance of the EJU test

Many Japanese universities base their admission on the applicant’s EJU scores. Check the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) website for universities that use the EJU for admission.

In addition, universities that use this system then exempt international students from taking the entrance exam that they themselves have set. Other criteria, in addition to EJU scores, include the applicant’s high school grades and other similar criteria.

This allows them to provide international students with “pre-arrival admission,” which means that they are admitted to a Japanese university before they have to travel to Japan.

Finally, applicants with the highest grades at their EJU can obtain Monbukagakusho Honors scholarships. This is provided that they mention their intention in advance on their EJU application.

Documents to enroll in a Japanese university

Your application must include the following documents:

  • Letters of recommendation from your former professors.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to finance your studies and cover the costs of living in Japan.
  • High school transcript or an accredited high school diploma.
  • An original copy of your valid passport.
  • 6 passport photos.
  • A medical certificate.
  • A letter of good conduct from the Ministry of Interior of your home country.

Pass the university entrance exam. The exam includes basic academic questions in addition to language proficiency questions.
Take a TOEFL.