Japan is an archipelago country in Asia and is renowned as one of the most technologically advanced nations. It is the third-largest economy in the world, proving its resiliency despite being prone to natural adversities.

Japan has an extensive influence across many countries, from culinary talent to iconic art styles to digital transformations. The blend of ancient traditions with pioneering technology fosters a humble yet innovative outlook, an approach that education should have. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Japan for international students.

Top Universities in Japan for International Students

1. University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo known as UTokyo or TOdai, is Japan’s first national university, established in 1877. The University of Tokyo is the best in Japan for international students with campuses in Hongō, Komaba, Kashiwa, and Nakano. UTokyo has ten faculties, including science, medicine, engineering, agriculture, economics, education, law, and arts and science. Among its 15 graduate schools in the same study areas and more, economics and law as the most eminent. Several of these programs are held in English, especially graduate-level courses.

The university carries out world-class research in cooperation with various industries locally and abroad. Furthermore, UTokyo has produced notable alumni, from prime ministers to astronauts to Pritzker Prize and Nobel Prize laureates. Its longstanding academic prestige makes it the top university for international students in Japan.

2. Kyoto University

Kyoto University is Japan’s second-oldest university, founded in 1897 following the “freedom of academic culture” principle. It has ten faculties offering a broad range of subjects like integrated human studies, education, and medicine, to name a few. Among its eighteen graduate schools are advanced study areas such as energy science and global environmental studies. Kyodai is also known for its cutting-edge research, especially in chemistry, biology & biochemistry, and pharmacology.

Kyoto University aces major university rankings consistently including in the top 10 in Asia and top 50 in the world. Its modern and state-of-the-art facilities in a tranquil, historic city provide a unique experience for international students.

3. Tohoku University

Tohoku University is a higher education institution in the Miyagi prefecture. This top university in Japan offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in almost every field of knowledge. Moreover, it is known for its accomplishments in research. Tohukodai’s highest-ranking research program is Material Science which placed 1st in Japan and 3rd in the world. The institution also excels in physics, pharmacology toxicology, and chemistry.

Tohokudai was the first in Japan to accept female students back in 1913 and has continued with its progressive and inclusive views until today. Aside from pioneering gender equality, Tohokudai is leading in extensive international collaborations for teaching and research.

4. Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institute of Technology, one of the best universities in Japan for international students, is dedicated to science and technology. It has three undergraduate schools in engineering, science, and bioscience & biotechnology. information science, decision science, and innovation management are added to the study areas in its graduate programs. Tokodai implements practical research and a hands-on approach in its research units, such as the prominent DLab (Laboratory of Design & Social Innovation) and ELSI (Earth-Life Science Institute).

Tokyo Tech offers full degree programs in English. It hosts an International Graduate Program, especially for international students with high academic potential.

5. Nagoya University

Nagoya University began as a temporary medical school in 1871 and became a national university in 1947. Presently, NU follows the principles of freedom, openness, and enterprising in its nine faculties and 13 graduate schools. It has a deep-rooted tradition in chemistry and physics and has world-class research accomplishments in these fields. NU produced notable alumni who became ambassadors, CEOs, and Nobel Prize winners.

Meidai offers over 1,000 lecture courses in English, has 2,200 overseas students, and engages in an interactive global exchange every year. The university’s tradition of open-mindedness encourages education on a worldwide scale.

6. University of Occupational and Environmental Health Japan

The University of Occupational and Environmental Health Japan, one of the best Japanese universities for international students, is a private university dedicated to occupational health. It was established in 1978 under the Industrial Safety and Health Act which obliges Japanese companies to care for their workers’ health by appointing occupational physicians. Thus, this institution spearheads the training of these medical professionals. Aside from Occupational health training, it offers programs in medicine, nursing, and industrial ecological sciences.

UOEH facilitates the Asia International Educational Program for Graduate Students, wherein selected international students are exempt from paying tuition fees. It also has an Animal Research Center and Radioscopic Research Center, which are renowned in the world.

7. Osaka University

Osaka University is a research university that traces its roots to schools from Japan’s ancient periods, including a samurai school. Even with a historic academic tradition, it is the first in Japan and 35th globally in Thomson Reuter’s World’s Most Innovative Universities. Handai’s research units focus on practical sciences, including regeneration medicine and robotics. Sony founder Akio Morita is an alumnus of OU.

Presently, OU has 11 faculties and 16 graduate schools. It is best known for the subject areas of natural sciences, chemical engineering, dentistry, and physics & astronomy. A time-honored university with an innovative approach, Handai is an excellent place for international learning.

8. Kyushu University

Kyushu University is a Japanese national university providing high-class teaching, research, and medical activities. This top university in Japan started as a medical college in 1903 and has expanded to this day with 11 undergraduate schools, 17 graduate schools, three affiliated research centers, and one university hospital. It is renowned for hydrogen energy research and is a top-notch medical school. The institution’s action plan involves education, research, social contribution, and international cooperation.

Kyudai has branch offices in San Jose in the US and Cairo, Egypt. Moreover, it collaborates with over 100 universities globally and is selected for the Top Global University Project, Japan’s initiative program for international academic competitiveness.

9. Tokyo Medical and Dental University

The Tokyo Medical and Dental University is a leading institution in Japan regarding medicine, dentistry, and related fields such as biomedical and health care sciences. In 1965, the university added the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, wherein students learn the ethical standards of healthcare professions. Presently, TMDU is the only national university with this faculty. It has a Biomaterials and Bioengineering Research Institute, a Medical Research Centre, and two teaching hospitals (medicine and dentistry).

This specialized university has a modest student population but has over 6% international students, most from Asian countries. TMDU’s Faculty of Medicine participates in exchange programs with Imperial College London, while its dentistry departments collaborate with schools in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

10. University of Tsukuba

The University of Tsukuba started as a Normal School in 1872, the first teacher’s college in Japan. Following this history, this top university in Japan became a forerunner in university reform. It has diverse study programs and is especially noted for its STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine) fields and physical education. Presently, it is located in the science park Tsukuba Science City and has a campus in Tokyo offering graduate programs for working adults.

The university focuses on interdisciplinary studies and internationalization with several universities like Taiwan, California, the North African Region, etc. The University of Tsukuba’s well-rounded programs and progressive approach make a remarkable international academic experience.

FAQs about Studying in Japan

Is Japan a Good Place to Study for International Students?

As one of the most literate countries globally, Japan consistently ranks in the top 10 countries for higher education in Asia and the world. Japan encourages internationalization in its universities with support programs like the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship. Their economy also has a great demand for foreign workers, and international students are encouraged to stay in the country after university.

Living in Japan offers a unique experience with its breathtaking landscape, incredible cuisine, and intriguing inventions. It also boasts advanced medical technology and efficient public transportation. While living costs may be slightly higher, tuition fees are more affordable than in the US or UK, ranging from $3,000 to $20,000. It’s an inexpensive way to study world-class programs and research opportunities, especially in science and technology.

Can International Students Work in Japan While Studying?

Generally, a Japanese student visa does not permit students to work. However, international students can apply for an exemption from the Minister of Justice. You can process this authorization at the nearest Immigration Bureau.

Once the application is approved, holders of student visas can work part-time in Japan as long as it does not conflict with their studies. You can work up to 28 hours per week and work a maximum of 8 hours a day during spring, summer, or winter breaks. Jobs related to adult entertainment services (e.g., gambling establishments) are not allowed, even if the work assignment is not in customer service. Please see a guide from the Japan Student Services Organization for more information on job categories and hourly rates.

You can apply for a separate authorization from the same bureau if you want to work more hours. For unpaid internships and similar activities, you don’t need to process any permits.

Can International Students Stay in Japan after Graduation?

Bilingual and multilingual employees are in demand in various Japanese industries, so foreign national graduates are encouraged to stay in Japan. After graduation, you can stay and search for a job for six months which can be renewed one time for a maximum of a year. Your visa status changes from “Student” to undertaking “Designated Activities.” You can process this in the nearest Immigration Bureau, wherein you will complete a request form and prepare essential documents.

Once you are hired, the duration of work depends on your specific skill and industry. You can find more information on the Japan Student Services Organization website.


We hope that this article on the best universities in Japan for international students was helpful! To learn more about Japanese universities and scholarship opportunities, Study in Japan has all the information you need. Additionally, you can sample the Available Programs in Japan to explore your study options.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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