Best Universities in Japan for International Students


Japan is a place of genius discoveries, inventions, and home to world-renowned researchers so it’s hardly surprising that Japan offers high-quality education to both local and international students. Japan also has some of the highest-ranking universities in the world.

If you want to do your Ph.D., Master’s, or even Bachelor’s with a futuristic POV, then Japan is where you should be headed. The only question is which university to choose if you want to study in Japan? Here’s a glimpse at the top 5 universities in Japan.

Studying in Japan

The education system in Japan is such that after high school you can go to college or go the vocational route. You can also opt for special training. You have a choice of National Universities that are funded by the central government. These universities usually focus on Science though other subjects are taught too. Then there are public universities that are funded by the local government. Once again the focus is mainly on experiential learning. National and Public Universities encourage the development of the local communities. Universities funded by owners and private investors are comparatively more expensive in terms of tuition fees as compared to national or public universities.

Apart from the Universities, Japan also has special training colleges and community colleges. These institutions offer two-year diploma programs with the option to upgrade for another year to advanced diploma certification. The primary focus at these institutions is on skill development. Fields of study include business studies, engineering, medicine, agriculture, social welfare, and language.

Top Education Systems around the World

Best Universities in Japan

Well, if you are asking “Which is the best university to study in Japan,” the answer is not easy. A lot depends upon what stage you are at and where you want to be. Japan allows student exchange programs from Junior high onwards so you can start studying in the country right after what is called SSC in India, in which case you’d enroll in a Junior college and your status would be that of an exchange student – which is slightly different from an international student. But if you are looking to pursue your post-graduation masters or Ph.D. then here’s a list of top 5 universities in Japan to choose from:

The University of Tokyo

  • Ranks 77 in the Best Global Universities
  • Ranks 26th in the QS World University Rankings by Subject with Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Sciences being the top scorers.

The University of Tokyo is a Japanese National University that is also called as UTokyo or Todai. Founded in 1877, it soon set up three more campuses at Hongo, Komaba, and Kashiwa and has since expanded to other parts of the country.

Tokyo University owns one hospital located at Bunkyo City, Tokyo. Todai is also associated with the Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital. Among its campuses are five graduate schools and 10 post-graduate facilities.

The five graduate schools focus on interdisciplinary information studies, mathematical sciences, frontier sciences, information science and technology, and public policy. The other 10 facilities focus on mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, astronomy, modern languages, and physics.

Kyoto University

  • Stands 127th in Best Global Universities. 
  • Holds 38th position in QS 2021 rankings.

With three campuses at Yoshida, Uji, and Katsura, Kyoto University was originally known as the Japanese National University. The Yoshida campus is the main university campus. The university has ten facilities for experiential training and nineteen graduate schools along with many research institutes and centres. Ten academic divisions offer undergraduate degrees in education, law, integrated human studies, agriculture, engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, medicine, letters, economics, and science.

Kyoto University is the highest-ranking university in Japan.

Tokyo Institute of Technology

  • Stands at 342 in Best Global Universities
  • 56th position in the QS 2021 rankings.

The Tokyo Institute of Technology was originally founded as the Tokyo Vocational School providing vocational training to graduates and undergrads. It is popularly known as Tokyo Tech. The institute offers many practical career-oriented courses in the areas of science and technology. The institute has three campuses at Ookayama, Suzukakedai, and Tamachi.  

Tokyo Tech also has a Liberal Arts section where foreign languages, the humanities, and other subjects are taught to supplement students’ science training. It also had six other schools offering courses in the areas of life science and technology, chemical technology, computing, science, engineering, materials, environment, and society. 

Osaka University

  • 263 in Best Global Universities
  • 72nd in the latest QS World University Rankings.

The Osaka University boasts of the likes of Akira Yoshino and Hideki Yukawa – noble laureates – on their faculty. The Osaka University – also known as OU – was founded in 1931 and is among the oldest universities of Japan. The national university has three main campuses at Suita, Toyonaka, and Minoh.

Like most other universities and colleges in Japan, the OU also focuses on experiential learning. The 11 undergraduate schools of OU offer courses in medicine, dentistry, pharmaceutical sciences, engineering science, law, letters, human sciences, foreign studies, science, engineering, and economics. The Osaka University also houses renowned research institutes like the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases and the Joining and Welding Research Institute.

Tohoku University

  • Ranks 275 in Best Global Universities
  • At 79th position in the QS 2021 rankings

Another old national University, the Tohoku was founded in 1907 and has since expanded campuses to Katahira, Kawauchi, Aobayama, Seiryo, and Amamiya. The Tohoku University is credited with paving the way for the education system in Japan as well as allowing both men and women to enroll in technical courses.

The University has ten undergraduate schools offering courses in engineering, medicine, dentistry, pharmaceutical sciences, agriculture, economics, science, and pharmacy however the focal point that draws both national and international students to Tohoku, is the focus on next-generation medicine. Tohoku also has 17 graduate schools and three professional graduate schools in Law, Accounting, and Public policy as well as well-equipped research institutes including the Institute for Materials Research, the Institute of Fluid Science, the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, and the Institute for Disaster Reconstruction and Regeneration Research.

Studying in Japan can be challenging for international students because of its language and unique culture. But if you can overcome those hiccups, universities in Japan have a lot to offer in terms of learning. After all, Japan is considered among the most advanced countries in the world.

We’ve brought you some of the best national universities from the country. Do let us know if you would like us to review any one of these in detail or hear about other universities from the country. Meanwhile, stay tuned – you’ll find us on most social media including Quora – just type blogyourniches into your search bar. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter.

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