Timeline for Going to University in Japan

woman holding books in Shinjuku.

Every year, around 240,000 international students choose to study in Japan’s higher education institutions in various cities across the country. This number shows the excellent quality of education offered in Japan, as well as the lifestyle, and culture that make it a popular education destination for students around the world.

Want to get a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Japan but do not know where to begin? This article will share a general timeline for going to university in Japan to guide you through the process.

Three students sitting at a desk, and looking at a notebook.

Finding the right Japanese university

The first step you should take is to research Japanese universities and create a list of schools that meet your goals and expectations.

There are plenty of universities in Japan for international students. So some things to keep in mind when narrowing down your list are the schools’ language requirements, location, tuition costs, scholarships, and offered majors. Before applying to schools, some basic requirements need to be met for any international student wanting to study in Japan.

Basic Requirements

To apply to a university in Japan, there are some minimum requirements you will need to meet. These pre-requirements may vary slightly depending on the university and program, so you should check with the institution you are interested in.

If you want to study at most schools, you will need a variation of the following:

Educational Credentials

Going to college in Japan as a foreigner you will need to take the same academic steps as you would in most other countries. This means you need to have completed your secondary education, such as high school or an equivalent qualification.

A European Union passport laying on top of Japanese language workbooks.


While this requirement may seem like a given, it might be a good time to double-check that your current passport will be valid through your entire study period. You can renew your passport in Japan, but in case of emergencies or wanting to travel back home for the holidays, having a valid passport throughout your stay will make it stress-free.


Some universities in Japan require proficiency in the Japanese language. This is often assessed through standardized tests like the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Some universities may also offer programs taught in English, for which English proficiency and test scores may be required instead.

Financial Resources:

To get a student visa in Japan you have to prove you have enough funds to cover your tuition, living costs, and other fees before arriving in the country. Scholarships, personal savings, and the GI Bill can be used towards this requirement.


Visa application processes can be found on the website of the Embassy or Consulate of Japan in your home country. While the visa requirement is not needed until after being accepted to a university, preparing the documents needed for your visa, will make the process smoother.

Remember to review the specific requirements and application procedures for the university and program you are interested in, as they may have additional criteria or documents needed. After completing the pre-requirements, the next step in your timeline is to decide when you want to come to Japan.

A person holding three books, looking out a window into the Tokyo skyline.

Japanese university intake and application

It might come as a surprise that to go to a university in Japan, the application deadline is usually 6 months before the semester you want to study. Different from the application, an intake period is when students’ courses begin.
If you plan to apply to more than one school, it is important to know when and how many intake periods they have. Some universities may only have one intake period for the entire year. So, keep up-to-date on the schools you are interested in, and have the pre-requirements sorted out ahead of time.

As mentioned, Japanese universities follow various application deadlines and intake periods, which can be found on their official websites. For a general overview, here are a few examples:

For universities with two intake periods

  • Want to study in the spring term apply by: November
  • To attend in the fall term apply by: April

For universities with three intake periods

  • Want to study in the spring term apply by: October/November
  • To attend in the summer term apply by February/April
  • Plan on attending during the fall term apply by June/July

After being Accepted:

Once you have applied, and been accepted to a university, you might be wondering, what now? It may seem that the largest hurdles to achieving your dreams of going to a Japanese university are over. While that may be true, there are still a few things that you should consider preparing before you arrive.


Most universities offer housing for first-year students like a dormitory, homestay, or affiliated sharehouse. However, some students may want a more private option, or to share a room with friends. In this case, it would be a good idea to communicate with the university ahead of time to check their housing policy and find out if they have other housing options.

Life in Japan:

Some of the most exciting parts about studying at a university in Japan are the rich culture, food, and new lifestyle that awaits you. While you will have plenty of time to experience new things during your studies, students interested to learn more about higher education and lifestyle in Japan, can follow our blog.


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