Aside from the quality of higher education in Japan, there are other factors why international students prefer to continue their postgraduate studies there. It has the most advanced medical services emphasizing its high levels of science and technology, unique approach to modern society, culture, natural scenic views, safety, etc.

Japan, in general, focuses on advancements in the field of science and technology and many student aspirants seek to pursue their graduate studies in the country. While some specialized master’s programs require a high level of Japanese proficiency, numerous study programs are entirely taught in English. Graduate schools from other disciplines also offer study programs conducted in English. The country has a unique approach to admitting graduate students. Here’s a standard guide and helpful information that would help in your search for the best graduate study program in Japan!

Master’s Degree Admission Requirements

The essential requirement a student must obtain when applying for a master’s program in Japan is a bachelor’s degree.

General entry requirements such as application forms, recommendation letters, English proficiency tests, and diplomas are essential documents needed to secure during the application stage for an international student who wishes to obtain a master’s degree in Japan. However, one unique requirement during the pre-application stage is that international students must find an academic supervisor who would accept them as students. An ideal prospective supervisor must be a part of the student’s preferred graduate school or department, and the student’s research proposal must match the supervisor’s qualifications and interests. Having a supervisor does not automatically guarantee admission. Students still need to complete the application process, take admission tests, and pass the interview with the Department or Admissions Committee.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Master’s Studies

The majority of the universities offering master’s degree programs to international students in Japan are entirely taught in English. Universities have designated graduate study programs specifically for international students as it may be difficult for them to enroll in Japanese-taught programs because it would require a high level of Japanese proficiency to be admitted.

The University of Tokyo offers a wide selection of English-taught master’s programs. The English proficiency level varies on the Graduate School the student is applying for, and most of the programs do not require proof of Japanese proficiency.

Currently, Hokkaido University has eight graduate study programs conducted in English. Some study programs in the university accept international students; however, this will depend on the recommendation of the student’s supervisor; if the student possesses a high level of Japanese skills, the graduate school may admit the student.

Master’s Degree Application Process

Step 1. Search for Master’s Program and Academic Supervisor

There are many unique and specialized master’s programs for international students in Japan. Students who seek to pursue their graduate studies should consider all the aspects of studying abroad. Before applying for a master’s program at a university in Japan, students should check all necessary information about the study program, location, living costs, language requirements, financial aid, etc. All these aspects must align with the student’s personal goals in attaining a master’s degree.

Also, it is required for an international student to have an instructor or supervisor who would assist in your research study. Most universities require to look for a supervisor before applying for a graduate program in their university. It is advisable to check with the school if needed.

Step 2. Choosing a University or Institution that Best Suits Your Academic Goals

Deciding on the school to apply for a master’s program in Japan is vital to every international student. Students must inquire at least 12 months before the proposed academic year in which the student would like to enroll. Students are encouraged to set a timeframe to collect all application requirements and examinations when applying for a study program in their chosen university. This will help students submit all necessary admission materials before the department deadline.

Step 3. Take the Tests

Studying master’s program in Japan requires international students to take language proficiency tests. The tests would highly depend on the department and the school’s requirements. Typically, the tests universities require are the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), IELTS, TOEFL, etc. Students will need to confirm what particular tests are required to be eligible for admission to the study programs. Some universities may require students to take an admission test for their master’s degree programs.

Step 4. Apply for the Master’s Study Program of Choice

It is recommended that at least 6-9 months before the academic year starts, students who wish to apply for a master’s degree in Japan are already completing their applications. Always check with the department of the chosen study program the application deadline to have an ample amount of time to prepare and meet all requirements.

Step 5. Pass Document Screening and Prepare for an Interview

The department committee of the university will interview students who passed the document screening. Once the student has been successfully interviewed, an acceptance letter will be sent to the candidate. Admitted students can proceed in the enrollment process.

Step 6. Prepare for Travel Requirements

Aside from the acceptance letter, the institution will process the Certificate of Eligibility of the student. This certificate will be sent to the student and must be submitted when processing a student visa. An issued visa permit will allow students to enter Japan.

For example, the Admission Assistance Office (AAO) at Kyoto University administers all postgraduate applications from international students. Candidates should choose and get sufficient information about the desired program they are applying for. Some Graduate Schools require students to find a supervisor. Students can access and check the list of instructors in the Activity Database on Education and Research. You can start your application by creating an account on the AAO’s portal. The application process could take up to a couple of months to complete. Before applying, make sure that the application form is filled up, and all requirements are uploaded. Students will be notified in about six weeks once all documents are verified. Programs that require provisional acceptance are required to contact their supervisor. In contrast, those programs that do not require a provisional acceptance can proceed in the application process in the chosen graduate school. Students who pass the admissions tests and/or interviews can enroll in their desired program.

Tokyo Institute of Technology’s International Graduate Program offers a wide range of master’s programs entirely taught in English. As with most universities, a prospective student who has decided to pursue a postgraduate program must find an academic supervisor. The faculty professor must be willing to take you as his/her student. It is also recommended to prepare all application requirements before starting the application process. The application will only begin once the student has emailed a consent letter coming from the academic supervisor. The Admissions Office will provide the student with a URL and password to access the online application system. Completion of application requirements and supporting documents must be submitted before the application deadline. The Admissions stage will include an interview and/or examination at the university.


We hope that this article on Studying Master’s in Japan was helpful.  To learn more about studying in this rich and diverse country, make sure to also check out the Study in Japan and the Available Programs for International Students 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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