If you have decided to study in Japan then an entirely new horizon of possibilities is opening up for you. Japan has some of the best study programs in the entire world. Immersed in a culture that constantly strives for excellence, you will find yourself challenged to do your best every day.

There are approximately 298,000+ international students in Japan.  The majority of them are Japanese language students but undergraduate students follow them closely. But do all of these undergraduates know Japanese to a degree that allows them to pursue higher studies? Not necessarily. Japanese universities have a wide variety of programs that are taught entirely in English.

However, this comes with its own set of challenges. Is an IELTS necessary when applying to an English-based program in a Japanese institution? Not always. There are some alternatives so that you can study in Japan without IELTS. That way you can save the extra expense and continue on your road towards studying in Japan.

Ways to Study in Japan without IELTS

1. Study in Japanese

If you have been interested in Japanese culture for years and have been taking language courses, you might have a level sufficient to take your higher education in the said language. You will need to prove your proficiency in Japanese. The test to examine your Japanese level is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. This is the simplest way to study in Japan without IELTS.

2. Attend a Japanese language school

You could join the over 90,000 students who are currently learning Japanese in Japan. If you’re determined to not only learn the language but also pursue a life in this country, this could be a great first step for you. Learning the language while immersed in Japanese culture and being forced to practice is of great aid to speed up your learning process. Furthermore, if you’re interested in pursuing higher studies after this, you can wait until you have gotten to the necessary level. Then, you can apply to a program that’s taught in Japanese. By the time you finish your career, you will be completely fluent in the language and you’ll have greater chances of pursuing job opportunities in the country.

3. You don’t need IELTS if you’re a native speaker

If you are a native English speaker, then you won’t need to present an IELTS as proof of proficiency in the language. To prove this you’ll need to provide a copy of your passport and, in some cases, your birth certificate.

4. Your high school education was in English

If you went to school in an English-speaking country, you won’t need to take the IELTS. Graduating from such an institution is already proof that you speak the language, even if you’re not a native of said country. Furthermore, if your school is not located in an English-speaking country but teaches classes in English, you can study in Japan without IELTS. However, you must provide sufficient evidence that your education was in English.

5. Submit other English tests

IELTS is not the only English sufficiency test accepted by Japanese universities as proof of proficiency in the language. You can also submit your scores in tests like the TOEFL and Cambridge tests. The scores necessary for admission might vary between universities and between the programs offered.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Universities in Japan that Don’t Require IELTS

Here are some of the universities that offer English-based programs without the need to present IELTS scores in Japan. Please note that this list is not comprehensive, meaning that it doesn’t include all the universities in Japan that do not require an IELTS score.

1. University of Tokyo

This is one of the most well-known universities in the country, and it is considered the best institution in Japan. For English-based programs, students can present TOEFL scores or Cambridge English Qualifications, which vary according to the program in question. Also, you can study in Japan without IELTS if you received your high school education in English for at least four of the five first years of basic education and five of the secondary six years of education.

2. University of Tsukuba

The University of Tsukuba is also located in Tokyo and it offers English programs as well. The requirements for admission to these programs include presenting TOEFL scores depending on the study program. For example, medical students are required to submit a higher score compared to other students.

3. Hiroshima University

This institution also offers English-based programs and it requires proof of English proficiency to be admitted. They accept TOEFL scores unless you are a native speaker of the language in which case no proof is needed. If you’re not a native speaker but attended a school where the medium of instruction is in English, then you must submit a letter from the previously attended school that states that all classes were delivered in English.

4. Meiji University

Meiji University offers a variety of ways to prove your English proficiency. A minimum score of 80, if you present your TOEFL results, will be considered sufficient proof. Additionally, you can present your SAT scores or your ACT results to prove you’re proficient in the language.


These are only some of the universities with English-based programs that accept other proof of English competency apart from the IELTS. However, there are other ways to study in Japan without IELTS. Conversely, there are not many options for undergraduate programs in English. Most of these universities offer two options, one in social sciences and one in medical sciences.

However, this is something that’s continuously developing as the Japanese government is looking to increase the number of international studies in the country. As this goal progresses, it’s important to remain updated regarding changes in the programs offered at one of these prestigious institutions. Japanese professors who have studied abroad teach most of the current programs available. Therefore, they are proficient in English and they have personal knowledge of the needs and expectations of the international students.

Japan is an exciting place and the language is no longer an impediment for you to broaden your view of the world and to pursue your studies in this advanced country.


We hope that this article has been informational! To learn about studying abroad, check out the Study in Japan and Available Programs for International Students for more 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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