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Admission to Higher Education Institution

Admission Qualifications and Pathways in Higher Education

To enroll in an HEI, applicants must fulfil admission qualifications in accordance with the School Education Act and its Enforcement Regulations (hereinafter referred to as “law”), and pass examinations or other selection procedures determined by each institution.

There are also cases in which individual institutions set their own application requirements in addition to those of the law.

Higher Education Pathways

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 Higher education pathways (PDF)

Admission Eligibility

Admission to University

Admission to University (Undergraduate Program), Professional and Vocational University (PVU), Junior College, and Professional and Vocational Junior College (PVJC)

In principle, under the law, persons who have completed 12 years of school education or designated school education (primary and secondary education) are eligible to enroll in a university (undergraduate program), PVU, junior college and PVJC. Persons who have received 12 years of school education outside Japan are treated equally.

Alternatively, persons who have passed Upper Secondary School Equivalency Examination (高等学校卒業程度認定試験 kotogakko-sotsugyo-teido-nintei-shiken, the exam which certifies equivalency of one’s scholastic competency to completion of 12 years of school education), or have a certificate to enroll in foreign universities, International Baccalaureate, Abitur, Baccalaureate, and General Certificate of Education Advanced Level are also eligible for university admission in Japan. There are also cases in which each institution accepts applicants based on its own admission qualification assessment.

  ▶See MEXT website for details on admission qualifications [Japanese] [English]

  ▶See here for admission eligibility of those who have graduated from a foreign or international school

Transfer to University (Undergraduate Program) and Professional and Vocational University (PVU)

Transfer refers to the admission when a person who has completed education at an institution enters another type of institution. Transferred students start from the middle of the course and are exempted from a part of the curriculum. Persons who have fulfilled one of the following legal requirements can transfer to a university (undergraduate program) or PVU:

(1)  Graduation from junior college (also applicable for junior colleges overseas),
(2)  Graduation from Professional and Vocational Junior College,
(3)  Graduation from College of Technology,
(4)  Completion of Post-Secondary Course at Professional Training College (program length must be 2 years or longer, with 1700 credit hours or more or 62 or more credits),
(5)  Completion of certain upper secondary school Advanced Courses, or
(6)  Graduation from a Japan branch campus of foreign university, which is designated as being equivalent to Japanese junior college by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

  ▶See MEXT website for details on transfer admissions [Japanese] [English]

Early Admission

The system of early admission allows students to enroll in a university at earlier stage than the above standard. It aims to develop further the talents of persons with outstanding ability in a particular field from the viewpoint of promoting education that corresponds to individual abilities and qualities. Persons who are considered to have outstanding ability in particular fields of study, designated by each university, and have attended upper secondary school for 2 years or longer are eligible for early admissions. The universities must fulfill legal requirements in order to implement the system.

  ▶See here for details [Japanese only]

 

Admission to Graduate School and Professional Graduate School

Admission to graduate school and Professional Graduate School is eligible to persons who have graduated from a university (undergraduate program), have graduated from a Professional and Vocational University, have received bachelor’s degree from NIAD-QE, or have completed 16 years of school education (18 years for medicine, dentistry, pharmaceutical sciences, and veterinary medical science majors). There are also cases in which each institution accepts applicants based on its own admission qualification assessment.  

  ▶See MEXT website for details of admission eligibility of master’s and professional degree programs [Japanese] [English]

  ▶See MEXT website for details of admission eligibility of doctoral programs [Japanese] [English]

Early Admission

The system of early admission allows students to enroll in a graduate school at earlier stage than the above standard. It aims to develop further the talents of persons with outstanding ability in a particular field from the viewpoint of promoting education that corresponds to individual abilities and qualities. Students who have attended university (undergraduate program) for 3 years or longer and earned required credits with excellent grades are eligible for early admissions. The graduate schools must fulfill legal requirements in order to implement the system.

  ▶See here for details [Japanese only]

Admission to College of Technology

College of Technology programs begin from the level of upper secondary education. Therefore, admission eligibility is the same as those of upper secondary schools, i.e. completion of lower secondary education in the Japanese school system or 9 years of school education in a non-Japanese school system.

  ▶See here for details [Japanese only]

 

Admission to Professional Training College

As is the case with university (undergraduate program), under the law, persons who have completed 12 years of school education (primary and secondary education) are, in principle, eligible to enroll in a Professional Training College. Persons who have received 12 years of school education outside Japan are treated equally.

Alternatively, persons who passed Upper Secondary School Equivalency Examination, or has a certificate to enroll in foreign universities such as International Baccalaureate or Abitur are also eligible for university admission in Japan. There are also cases in which each institution accepts applicants based on its own admission qualification assessment.

 

Admission to Educational Institutions Operated by Government Ministries and Agencies

Admission to educational institutions operated by government ministries and agencies depends on the institution. In some cases, they are regulated by legislation and instruction of the operating government ministry.

Entrance Examinations

In principle, Japanese HEIs select students based on each institution’s own procedures established in line with its admission policy.

University Entrance Examinations

University (Undergraduate Program), Professional and Vocational University (PVU), Junior College, and Professional and Vocational Junior College (PVJC)

Entrance examinations for university (undergraduate program), PVU, junior college, and PVJC are conducted based on "the Guidelines for University Entrance Examinations" [Japanese only] stipulated and renewed every academic year by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Guideline contents include selection methods, timing of selection, etc. Selection processes vary from institution to institution: considering the National Center Test (see explanation below) scores, conducting original scholastic exams and interviews, combining document screening and interview, to name a few. In addition, some institutions employ special procedures for non-Japanese applicants. 

The National Center Test

The National Center Test is a standardized exam designed for students who are graduating or have already graduated from upper secondary school and willing to enter a university (undergraduate program). It takes place simultaneously throughout the country in mid-January every year. It is an option for universities take scores from this exam into consideration, and the universities that use its scores administer the Test in collaboration with the National Center for University Entrance Examinations. Multiple choice written exams (and listening comprehension for English) are administered for 30 subjects in six subject areas (i.e. Japanese Language, Geography and History, Civics, Mathematics, Science, and Foreign Languages). It is up to each university to specify the subject areas and subjects and how to use the scores for their admission procedures, whether it is a requirement or just a supplementary resource.

The National Center Test will be replaced with a new “Common Test for University Admissions (大学入学共通テスト daigaku nyugaku kyotsu tesuto)” from AY2020 (for 2021 university entrants) . This new Test will introduce essay questions in some subjects with the aim to appropriately measure abilities to think, make judgement, and express themselves as well as the knowledge and skills already measured in the current Test.

  ▶See here for details of the National Center Test [Japanese only]

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

The EJU is an examination for international students planning to study at a Japanese university (undergraduate program) to measure Japanese language proficiency and basic academic abilities needed to study at a Japanese HEI.

EJU is administered through Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) and it takes place twice a year, in June and November, both in Japan and overseas. The exam can be taken in Japanese or English, and the subjects include Japanese as a Foreign Language, Science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), Japan and the World, and Mathematics. It is up to each university to specify the subjects and language of the exam the examinees take. Many universities use EJU scores as a reference resource in the special selection for international applicants.

  ▶See here for details of the EJU

Graduate School and Professional Graduate School

Entrance examinations for graduate school and Professional Graduate School are conducted based on the Guidelines for Graduate School Entrance Examinations stipulated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2008. Selection procedures vary from institution to institution; for example, applicants are judged comprehensively by combination of document screening, scholastic test, interview, etc. When a student is continuing studies from undergraduate program to the graduate school in the same university, s/he can take recommendation-based entrance exam, which gives exemption from part of the selection procedures. Recently, the number of graduate schools introducing AO exams (exams conducted independently by an Admissions Office) are increasing. There are also cases in which non-Japanese applicants undergo special selection procedures, and such cases may use EJU scores as a reference.

College of Technology Entrance Examinations

Entrance examination for College of Technology (KOSEN) is either scholastic test or recommendation-based entrance exam for all national, public, and private colleges. In addition to the above, some KOSENs also conduct AO exams and special selection for Japanese students who received secondary education abroad. All 51 national KOSENs use the same examination for scholastic testing which takes place simultaneously throughout the country. There are also cases in which non-Japanese applicants undergo special selection procedures, and such cases may use EJU scores as a reference.

Professional Training College Entrance Examinations

Entrance examination for Professional Training College differs from institution to institution. The exams vary depending on the characteristics of the study areas and departments. There are also cases in which non-Japanese applicants undergo special selection procedures, and such cases may use EJU scores as a reference.

Educational Institution Operated by Government Ministries and Agencies Entrance Examinations

Each educational institution operated by a government ministry or agency decides its own admission procedures. They are written exams, recommendation-based entrance exams, and special selection for Japanese students who received secondary education abroad, to name a few. Types of exams also vary from document screening, scholastic test, interview, to short essay, etc.