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Planning studies in Japan

Japanese Educational System

In Japan, higher education starts upon the completion of 12 years of education: elementary education (6 years of elementary school) and secondary education (3 years of lower secondary school and 3 years of upper secondary school).There are 5 types of higher education institutions that international students can be admitted to, which are 1) colleges of technology, 2) vocational schools (postsecondary course of specialized training colleges), 3) junior colleges, 4) universities (undergraduate) and 5) graduate schools. Depending on the founding bodies, these higher education institutions are categorized into three types: national, local public and private.

Educational System

Japanese Educational System
  • Individuals completing their majors at a junior college or college of technology certified by the National Institution for Academic Degrees and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education (NIAD-QE) may obtain bachelor's degrees by applying to the NIAD-QE and passing an examination. Confirm further details at the school to which the application will be made.

Degrees and titles you can obtain and the required study periods

Program Degree/Title Required Study Period Number of Earned Credits
Graduate School Doctoral Program*1 Doctoral degree 5 years*2 30 credits or more (including credits earned in Master's Program)
Master's Program Master's degree 2 years*2 30 credits or more
Professional Degree Program Master's degree (professional degree) 2 years 30 credits or more
Juris Doctor (professional degree) 3 years 93 credits or more
Master of Education (professional degree) 2 years 45 credits or more
University (Undergraduate) General faculties and faculty of pharmacy (4-year program) Bachelor's degree 4 years 124 credits or more
Faculties of medicine, dentistry, veterinary and pharmacy (6-year program) 6 years Medicine and dentistry: 188 credits or more
Veterinary: 182 credits or more
Pharmacy: 186 credits or more
Professional and Vocational University Bachelor's degree (professional) 4 years 124 credits or more
Junior College Associate degree 2 years or 3 years 2-year program: 62 credits or more
3-year program: 93 credits or more
Professional and Vocational Junior College Associate degree (professional) 2 years or 3 years 2-year program: 62 credits or more
3-year program: 93 credits or more
College of Technology Associate degree 5 years or 5 and a half years*3
Vocational School Specialized training colleges post-secondary course Advanced Diploma 4 years
Diploma 2 to 3 years
  • Graduate school doctoral programs are sometimes divided into the first phase (two years) and second phase (three years). The required period of undergraduate study in medicine, dentistry and veterinary and certain pharmaceutical programs is six years, and the duration of their graduate (doctoral) program is four years.
  • Master's and doctoral programs list the standard number of years.
  • The required period of study at a college of technology is normally five years, yet international students are accepted from the third year.

Most higher educational institutions in Japan set their academic year from April to March of the following year. Many institutions use the semester system. The long holiday seasons are usually in the summer (late July to early September), winter (late December to early January) and spring (February to March). In Japan, most schools admit students in April, but some schools have an autumn admission system.

Number of higher education institutions
National Local public Private Total
Graduate schools 86 89 482 657
Universities (Undergraduate) 86 101 620 807
Junior colleges 0 14 295 309
Colleges of technology 51 3 3 57
Professional training colleges 8 180 2,533 2,721
Source: School Basic Survey 2022 (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)