What Do I Need to Know About Japanese Universities?
This article is an at-a-glance reference on the types of Japanese universities, degrees, related Japanese terminology, fees, and so forth.
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Types of Japanese Universities
・国立大学 Kokuritsu Daigaku (National Universities) ー
Universities that operate with grants from the government. The programs at national universities tend to be geared towards either general studies or sciences.
Each Japanese national university is operated as a national university corporation. Most of their operating funds come from national taxes. However, much like universities overseas, the university runs itself without excessive control by the government; and so is able to retain individuality in the way that it educates. Also, because the universities function like corporations, they have relatively few hurdles in terms of cooperating with private companies for research purposes.
・公立大学 Kouritsu Daigaku (Public Universities) ー
Operated by a prefecture or a city.
Public universities receive tax money from a prefecture or city as opposed to from the government and are operated by public university corporations, and so give an education that is more rooted in their locale than national universities. For example, they are involved in planning joint ventures with local companies, and jointly run regional events. It is relatively easy for them to do research that has an influence on their regional economy.
・私立大学 Shiritsu Daigaku (Private Universities) ー
The programs at private universities tend to be more geared towards humanities and social sciences.
One major difference between national, public, and private Japanese universities is that students must often take a national test and a test from the university when applying to a national university or a public university, but only a test from the university when applying to a private university.
・短期大学 Tanki Daigaku (Junior Colleges) ー
As its name shows (the first two kanji in Tanki Daigaku, 短期 tanki, are “short” and “period of time”) students tend to spend fewer years at junior colleges than at other types of universities.
・専門学校 Senmon Gakkou (Vocational Schools) ー
Much like vocational schools in other countries, Japanese vocational schools are geared towards helping a student to enter a particular line of work. Students who have gone through a vocational school often have an easy time finding jobs. Vocational schools are not degree-oriented, but rather certificate- or license- oriented. Sometimes a student will go to both a university and a vocational school.
Japanese university departments
All Japanese university department names end with the kanji 学 gaku, which means “studies” or “learnings.”
This is a general reference list of some of the most common university departments:
法学 hougaku (law), 教育学 kyouikugaku (education), 医学 igaku (medicine), 薬学 yakugaku (pharmacy), 工学 kougaku (engineering), 保健学 hokengaku (health science), 文学 bungaku (literature), 理学 rigaku (physical science), 農学 nougaku (agriculture), 獣医学 juuigaku (veterinary medicine), 経済学 keizaigaku (economics), 商学 shougaku (commercial science), 経営学 keieigaku (management), 教養学 kyouyougaku (general education), 音楽学 ongakugaku (musicology), 神学 shingaku (theology).
At-a-Glance Chart of Degrees and Schools
|学位 Gakui (degrees from 4-year, 2-year, and graduate schools)||博士 Hakushi||A graduate school doctorate/PhD program (大学院の博士課程 Daigakuin no Hakushi Katei)||Doctor, PhD|
|修士 Shuushi||A graduate school master’s program (大学院の修士課程 Daigakuin no Shuushi Katei)||Master’s|
|専門職学位 Senmonshoku Gakui (Professional Degrees)||法務博士 Houmu Hakushi||A law school (法科大学院 Houka Daigakuin)||Juris Doctor|
|教職修士 Kyoushoku Shuushi||A graduate school with a Master’s in Education program (教職大学院 Kyoushoku Daigakuin)||Master of Education|
|修士 (専門職) Shuushi (Senmonshoku)||A graduate school with professional degree programs (aside from law or education programs) (専門職大学院 Senmonshoku Daigakuin)||Master’s|
|学士 Gakushi (4 yrs)||An undergraduate school (大学 Daigaku)||Bachelor’s|
|短期大学士 Tankidai Gakushi (2 yrs)||A junior college (短期大学 Tanki Daigaku)||Associate degree|
|称号 Shougou (degrees from other types of schools)||準学士 Jungakushi (2)||A vocational/technical school (高等専門学校 Koutou Senmon Gakkou)||Associate degree|
|高度専門士 Koudo Senmonshi||A program at a special vocational school (特定の専修学校の専門課程 Tokutei no Senshuu Gakkou no Senmon Katei) (Mostly longer than 4 years)||Advanced diploma|
|専門士 Senmonshi||A program at a special vocational school (特定の専修学校の専門課程 Tokutei no Senshuu Gakkou no Senmon Katei) (Mostly 2-3 years)||Diploma|
Department/School and Degree Names
|Example Department/School Name||Degree Name|
|法学部 Hougakubu (Law school)||Bachelor of Laws|
|教育学部 Kyouiku Gakubu (Education department)||Bachelor of Education|
|医学部 Igakubu (Medicine department)||Bachelor of Medicine|
|薬学部 Yakugakubu (Pharmaceutical department)||Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences|
|薬学部 Yakugakubu (Pharmaceutical department)||Bachelor of Pharmacy|
|工学部 Kougakubu (Engineering, technology, or science department)||Bachelor of Engineering|
|保健学部 Hokengakubu (Health science department)||Bachelor of Health Sciences|
|文学部 Bungakubu (Literature department)||Bachelor of Arts (Literature)|
|理学部 Rigakubu (Physical science department)||Bachelor of Science|
|農学部 Nougakubu (Agricultural department)||Bachelor of Agriculture|
|獣医学部 Juuigakubu (Veterinary medicine department)||Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine|
|経済学部 Keizaigakubu (Economics department)||Bachelor of Economics|
|商学部 Shougakubu (Commercial science department)||Bachelor of Commerce|
|経営学部 Keieigakubu (Management department)||Bachelor of Business Administration|
|教養学部 Kyouyougakubu (General education department)||Bachelor of Liberal Arts|
|音楽学部 Ongakugakubu (Music department)||Bachelor of Music|
|神学部 Shingakubu (Theology department)||Bachelor of Divinity|
time in School
Generally, new students at Japanese universities begin in April, but some universities also have new students who begin in the fall. A school year begins in April and ends in March of the following year. The school year is split into two pieces: 前期 zenki (the kanji are “before-period”) (April to September), and 後期 kouki (the kanji are “after-period”) (October to March).
school career length
National universities, public universities, and private universities are at least four years (six years for medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy).
The shortest periods of study at a college or university are around two years.
Summer break: late July to early September
Winter break: late December to early January
Spring break: February to March
学費 Gakuhi (Tuition)
- National universities: First year 817,800 yen（入学金 Nyuugakukin (Matriculation Fee): 282,000 yen＋学費 Gakuhi (Tuition): 535,800 yen）Second year 535,800 yen
- Public universities: First year average 935,578 yen（Matriculation Fee: 397,721 yen＋Tuition: 537,857 yen）Second year 537,857 yen
- Private universities: First year average 1,124,516 yen（Matriculation Fee: 256,069 yen＋Tuition: 868,447 yen）Second year 868,447 yen
When Do I Pay Tuition?
You pay half in May, and half in November (for example, at a national university, you might pay one half of 535,800 yen (which is 267,900 yen) in May, and the other 267,900 yen in November).
One major difference between national universities, public universities, and private universities is the allotment of research expenses. Because national and public universities use tax money to help run the school and receive subsidies from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, their research facilities tend to be substantial. On the other hand, a lot of private universities tend to focus more on facilities related to the school itself, or to student life.
Generally speaking, if your pre-university school was twelve years or longer, you qualify for application to a Japanese university or junior college. If your pre-university school was less than twelve years, you can take a course that will qualify you for application.
The rule for vocational schools is the same, but some vocational schools (and some universities, for that matter) also have requirements for a student’s Japanese language proficiency. Japanese language proficiency requirements vary drastically from university to university and from school to school, so if you have a particular university or school in mind be sure to investigate their language proficiency requirements.
That’s all for this article!
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