The Japanese Education System

The Education Order of 1872 resulted in the first Modern School system being established in Japan. This modeled European Education systems.
In 1947, Educational reforms occurred. The Fundamental Law of Education emerged from the reform, which addressed new aims of the reformed educational system: to contribute towards the peace and welfare of society, to holistically develop the person, and to engender a love for truth and justice among the student population.  Declarations of Academic Freedom, equal opportunity and coeducation are key principles of the system.

The Education system is divided into various stages of learning, as illustrated below:


Graduate School (2-5 years)

Special Training School                       (more than 1 year)

Undergraduate School                        Junior College (2-3 years)
or University (4-6 years)

Technical College (5 years)


Upper Secondary School (high school)
Full Time (3 years) Part Time and Correspondence (4 years or more)


Lower Secondary school (middle school) (3 years)

Elementary School (6 years)

Kindergarten (1-3 years)


Education is compulsory until Middle School, but High school education enrollment is universal. Students enter Elementary schools at the age of 6 and graduate from Middle school at the age of 15. The government provides textbooks and free tuition at these stages.
There was an increase in the number of students enrolling at high schools in the mid 1960s, reaching an impressive 97.7%.  An increased number of persons have also been entering the vocational training schools.
At the tertiary level in July 2003, The National University Corporation Law transformed 89 national universities into independent administrative centres. This was the most significant change in tertiary education since the establishment of the imperial university system in the late 1800s. This is aimed at developing internal self-governance and competitiveness among the Universities.  In terms of the gender statistics for University students, in 2007 54.9% of men proceeded to college, whereas 52.2% of women did the same.
Adult education is becoming mainstream in Japan. In 2006, 1,111,395 local residents attended courses at community centres. This number continues to increase, thus demonstrating the level of enthusiasm to pursue higher knowledge among the Japanese people.



Foreign Students in Japan


The number of foreign students (excluding those attending Japanese language schools) in Japan increased by 118, 498 (0.5%) in 2007. 106, 300 of these students were self-financed, whereas 12,200 were on Government scholarships.
The following illustrates the various nationalities of students pursuing tertiary level studies in Japan:

Source: Japan Student Services Organization (extracted from Facts and Figures of Japan 2008)

The Academic year begins on April 1st each year and ends on March 31st of the following year.


Studying in Japan


If you are interested in studying in Japan, you can visit the following link at http:/

This site offers comprehensive information for Prospective students, both within Japan and Internationally.


Additionally, the Japan Student Services Organization offers a wealth of information for International students desirous of studying in Japan. For further information, visit


Gateway to Study in Japan:


 List of Japanese Universities




The Government of Japan offers scholarships to foreign students who desire to study at Japanese universities as postgraduate or undergraduate students every academic year. Successful applicants receive round-trip airfare, exemption from school fees and a monthly allowance. Nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Guyana, Suriname, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago are all eligible to apply in current fiscal year for this prestigious scholarship. Two types of scholarships are available to citizens of this region:


Research students:


The fields of study include: -
Humanities and Social Sciences, such as Literature, History, Law, Politics, etc.
Natural Sciences, such as Engineering, Fisheries, Medicine, Dentistry, etc.

Prospective students must be under 35 years of age, and must have an undergraduate degree in the relevant field. Application forms are usually made available in April, for departure the following year.


Undergraduate students:


The fields of study include: -
Humanities and Social Sciences, such as Economics, Sociology, Japanese Language, etc.
Natural Sciences, such as Science, Engineering, Chemical Studies, Agricultural studies, Medicine, Dentistry, etc.
Prospective students must be between 17 and 21 years of age, and must have completed 12 years of education.


Click here for Application Information and Documents


To see reviews submitted by past scholarship students, please click here.




Life and Study in Japan

Part 2-Life and Study in Japan

Higher Education in Japan

Categories and Contents of the Scholarship

Preparations for travelling to Japan

Arrival in Japan

Accomodation in Japan

Procedures for residing in and re-entry into Japan

Returning from Study in Japan




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