JPSS, for information about studying in Japan's universities and graduate schools. > News／Useful information for studying abroad > Guide for Studying Abroad in Japan > Your First Step Towards Study in Japan > Your Purpose for Studying in Japan, and How to Select a School
You can choose to study at a Japanese language school, a vocational school, a junior college, an undergraduate course, a master's course or a doctoral course in Japan. This web site explains admission requirements, admissions schedules, periods of study, and so on. For further details, please refer to each school's information.
Japanese language schools are places where you can start learning Japanese from the beginner level. There are courses only for Japanese learning, as well as courses for students to go to higher stage of education, such as at vocational schools, colleges or undergraduate courses. In such preparatory courses, subjects other than Japanese, such as general subjects and science are taught. There are several courses available at each language school, so it is recommended to choose a course which serves your purpose for studying in Japan.
A degree will not be awarded upon completion of a language school program. However, the certification of completion of the language school or Japanese language proficiency test results for the N1 or N2 levels will be helpful in your future for getting jobs and going on to other schools.
After graduating from senior high school, vocational school will be a good choice to learn the knowledge and techniques related to your future occupation. Completion of 12 years' school education is essential for applying. In most cases, graduation from vocational school is during two years. Classes start in April. 90% of courses in vocational schools grant students a qualification which is called "Senmonshi", which means "specialist". With this Senmonshi qualification, even people who had not completed an undergraduate course in their home country meet the requirements made by the Immigration Bureau for working in Japan. Major fields of vocational schools are: Medical, Industrial, Commercial business, Hygiene, Education, Social Welfare, Fashion, Home economics, Agriculture and Japanese Language.
The purpose of junior colleges is to conduct in-depth learning and research in specialized disciplines and to develop the abilities necessary for employment and daily life. The term of study is two or three years (In the field of Medical Techniques and Nursing, it takes three years to graduate) and graduates are awarded an associate degree. With the associate degree, even people who had not completed an undergraduate course meet the requirement made by the Immigration Bureau for working in Japan.
The purpose of universities, as centers of advanced learning, is to provide students with wide-ranging knowledge and to provide in-depth teaching and research in specialized academic disciplines. The term of study is four years (six years for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine). Graduates are awarded a bachelor's degree. With a bachelor's degree, the requirement made by Immigration Bureau for working in Japan has also been fulfilled.
Traditionally, departments of Humanities, Education, Law, Economics, Engineering, Science, Medical, Agriculture, and Art have been established in Japanese universities. Sociology and Business departments are also traditionally available. On the other hand, departments with a name including the terms "international", "environment", "human" or "tourism" represent newly established programs.
A university may also establish a graduate school offering master's courses (two-year standard term of study), doctoral courses (five-year standard term of study, and four years for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine), or professional degree courses (two-year standard term of study; however, depending on the field, in some cases courses can take between one to two years, or more than three years). Those who have completed the graduate course are awarded either a master's, doctoral, or professional degree. Please note that there are no master's courses in the departments of medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine. Only doctoral courses are available, and the shortest period for graduation is four years. Applicants who completed 16 years' education can apply for master's courses while applicants who completed 18 years' education can apply for doctoral courses. In addition, it is recommended for applicants who do not meet these educational requirements to make inquiries as early as possible. This is because the screening process for those applying on the merits of their practical business experience takes a long time.
Foreigners in Japan with a master's degree or doctoral degree can work not only in Japanese companies, but do research work in Japanese universities as instructors or researchers as well.
There is an original research student system in Japanese graduate schools separate from master's or doctoral courses. Research students register at a graduate school, participate in lectures, accept instruction from professors and make use of university's facilities. However, these research students cannot receive a degree.
In most of the cases, the admission for research student is screening candidates by examining their academic records and other submitted documents. Furthermore, it is possible for applicants to use Method C. By using Method C, applicants could come to Japan as research student and learn both Japanese and knowledge of their major field, and then take the entrance examination of the master's or doctoral course.
Qualified applicants applying for research student status should have completed an undergraduate course in their home country. Some private universities require that only applicants who have completed a graduate course have the qualification to apply as a research student. The period of a research student course is six months. The period can be extended if permission from an instructor is granted.