In 2021, Japan hosted over 240,000 international students. By that, it is clear that this country is one of the most popular destinations for studying overseas. There are more than a few reasons for that. Besides innovative research, top-class education, and affordable tuition fees, Japan is the dream of many students because of its entertainment industry, unique culture, and modern lifestyle.

The allure is even stronger when one discovers you can study in Japan for free! But before that can happen, you’ll have to follow several steps. In this article, you’re going to discover those steps, so read on! Take note of the many ways to reduce financial issues as an international student in the land of the rising sun.

How to Study in Japan for Free

1. Compile Admission Documents Required By Your University

The preparation of documents is one of the most crucial steps to a successful admission application. During this step, you should not only compile your papers. You should also conduct detailed planning to ensure you stand out among other applicants and that you submit your application on time. Thus, start by checking the application process, requirements, and dates for the programs you wish to apply to, and then prepare your documents before the application period to make sure you can provide all the necessary supplementary materials.

Note that the necessary documents can differ for each Japanese university or program. However, the general required documents include a diploma of the latest completed degree and an academic transcript. Some supplementary materials can help your application for admission to proceed successfully. Such materials include proof of language proficiency, letter of intent, curriculum vitae, and so on.

2. Comply with the Eligibility and Application Requirements for Scholarships

Japan has numerous scholarship opportunities for international students at any level, with many offering tuition-free education and even living allowance. The exact amount and duration, though, depend on the institution that funds the scholarship program. Thus, international applicants should consult with their target institution for the specifics of their available scholarships.

There are many scholarship opportunities for international students in Japan. Among them are the most popular fully-funded, 100% tuition waiver scholarships that allow students to study for free! They include the MEXT scholarships, which are offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology for international students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in Japan. Other fully-funded scholarships at Japanese universities are the Hokkaido University Scholarships and Ritsumeikan University Scholarships.

3 Apply to and Enroll in Low-tuition Universities

Besides applying for scholarships, preferring universities with more affordable tuition fees can reduce your financial burden as an international student in Japan. These affordable institutions include public universities and low-tuition private universities accepting international students. Note that a lot of them include the top-class universities in the country, so you won’t compromise on quality.

Examples of low-tuition universities in Japan include Nagoya University, Kyushu University, and Osaka University. These three institutions typically charge ¥267,900 ($1,850) per semester or ¥535,800 ($3,700) per year in tuition fees for most undergraduate and postgraduate programs. However, specific programs, such as law, may cost more than the indicated amount.

Tuition-free Options for Undergraduate Studies in Japan

There are several options, particularly scholarships, for international undergraduate students in Japan to study tuition-free. Some of these scholarships are funded by the government, while others are funded by the university or external institutions.

A few of the common tuition-free undergraduate education options in Japan include the MEXT scholarships by the Japanese government, offering fully-funded scholarships, accommodation, and living allowances; KUAS Scholarships by the Kyoto University of Advanced Science, offering up to 100% tuition fee reduction; and Asia Pacific University Scholarship, providing up to 100% of the tuition fee reduction and housing for its students.

Tuition-free Options for Master’s Studies in Japan

When it comes to postgraduate education in Japan, there are numerous scholarship opportunities for international students. Indeed, most Japanese universities are generous, offering fully funded scholarship opportunities to master’s students so they can pursue their research or academic interests in the country without financial burden.

Some of the most generous fully funded scholarship options for master’s students include the ADB Japan Government Scholarship, which is available across several Japanese universities and covers a full tuition waiver, a monthly stipend, books, insurance, study allowance, and travel expenses. There is also the Hokkaido University Scholarships, offering a monthly allowance in addition to full tuition fee reduction, and the Joint Japan World Bank Scholarship, which is a fully funded scholarship for students from developing countries who are involved in developmental work.

Tuition-free Options for Ph.D. Studies in Japan

Lastly, there are plenty of fully funded scholarship options for international doctoral students to conduct their research activities and study in Japan for free. Some of the most common full-tuition scholarship options for Ph.D. students in Japan include the MEXT scholarships, which are fully-funded scholarships that cover study, living, and travel expenses, and Hokkaido University Scholarships, which offer full-tuition coverage and monthly allowance.

Studying in Japan for free can be more than just a dream as long as you complete your applications carefully and be aware of the tuition-free options. Thus, choose your study program at Japanese universities today and apply for the tuition-free study options that best match your academic skills and interests.

FAQs: Studying in Japan as an International Student

Are there Opportunities for International Students to Study in Japan for Free?

Yes, there are several opportunities for international students to study a degree program for free in Japan. However, they will entail careful research about the university, program, and Japanese higher education system.

Research will allow you to discover scholarships or low-tuition institutions that match your academic skills and goals. Thus, plan your application well so you are better aware of the tuition-free education opportunities you can take advantage of in Japan.

How Much is the Annual Academic Cost in Japan?

The total academic cost of studying in Japan depends on the type of university, degree, program, and location. For instance, the majority of Japanese universities are private, where fees are typically much higher than those of public universities.

To put a number to it, let’s look into International Christian University, which is considered the top private university in Japan. Thus, its fees are relatively higher than in many other private universities, reaching up to ¥1,557,000 ($10,730) per year. On the other hand, public universities, like the University of Tokyo, one of the most prestigious universities in Japan, require only ¥535,000 ($3,700) per year.


We hope this article helps you start your journey to studying in Japan for free! You can also check out these Open Courses so you know what studies to pursue in the land of the rising sun.

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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