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Education System of Japan


Types of higher education institutions:

Daigaku (University)

Tanki-Daigaku (Junior Colleges)

Koutou-Senmon-gakko (College of Technology)

School leaving and higher education credentials:

Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho


Teaching Certificate











Pre-higher education:

Duration of compulsory education:

Age of entry: 6

Age of exit: 15

Structure of school system:


Type of school providing this education: Primary

Length of program in years: 6

Age level from: 6 to: 12

Certificate/diploma awarded: Leaving Certificate

Lower Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Lower Secondary Schools

Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 12 to: 15

Certificate/diploma awarded: Chugakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho (Lower Secondary School Leaving Certificate)

Upper Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Part-Time Upper Secondary Schools or Correspondence Upper Secondary School

Length of program in years: 4

Age level from: 15 to: 19

Certificate/diploma awarded: Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho (Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate)

Upper Secondary

Type of school providing this education: General Academic School

Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 15 to: 18

Certificate/diploma awarded: Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho (Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate)

Vocational Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Vocational Secondary School

Length of program in years: 3

Age level from: 15 to: 18

Certificate/diploma awarded: Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho (Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate)

School education:

Primary education lasts for six years and leads to a Leaving Certificate which gives access to lower secondary education. Secondary education (national and private) includes: Lower secondary education, three years, and upper secondary education, three years. Entrance to public lower secondary schools is by allocation of the local education board, but entrance to private or national schools is by examination. A number of private schools offer six years of continuous education, covering the lower secondary and higher secondary cycles This six-year "all through" secondary education is to become the standard. In the second and third year of lower secondary schools, attendance at JUKU (private examination preparation schools) is common. There are three types of upper secondary school courses: full-time, part-time and correspondence all leading to the Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho (Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate). They offer general, academic and vocational streams and, since 1988, a "credit-system" type of upper secondary schools. Entrance to upper secondary schools is by examination or selection. Vocational secondary schools offer courses in Engineering, Agriculture and Commerce also leading to the Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate.

Higher education:

Higher education is provided by Universities 'daigaku', Junior Colleges 'tanki-daigaku' and Colleges of Technology 'koto-senmongakko', as well as by 'senmon gakko' (Special Training Colleges). These institutions may be public (national, prefectural or municipal) or private. The Ministry must approve the foundation of institutions of higher education and they are under its control. Some 70 per cent of the 'daigaku' and 85 per cent of the 'tanki-daigaku' are private institutions. Universities include one or several faculties offering four-year courses in a variety of subjects. Public universities are mainly financed from national and local funds. Private universities and colleges are financed by students' fees and private funds. The national government provides private institutions with grants for about one-third of current expenditures.Junior Colleges and Colleges of Technology do not grant university-level qualifications, but students holding the Associate Degree may pursue their studies in universities.

Main laws/decrees governing higher education:

Decree: Fundamental Law of Education Year: 1947

Concerns: universities, junior colleges, colleges of technology

Academic year:

Classes from: Apr to: Mar

Long vacation from: 15 Jul to: 31 Aug

Languages of instruction: Japanese

Stages of studies:

Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):

Non-university level:

Junior Colleges offer two-year, sometimes three-year courses to upper secondary school leavers. The minimum credit requirement is 62 and, for three-year Junior Colleges, 93. Students are awarded the Associate Degree (Jun-Gakushi). Credits obtained may be counted as part of the credits leading to a degree. Colleges of technology offer five-year courses, the last two of which are at post-secondary level. They train technicians, but do not grant university-level qualifications. Students are awarded the Associate Degree. They may apply for admission to the third year of a university course. The Colleges aim to conduct in depth teaching in specialized subjects and to develop in students such abilities as are required for vocational life. There are a variety of main courses including Mechanical Engineering, Electric Engineering, Electronic Control, Information Technology, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mercantile and Marine Management Information. Most of the graduates enter employment.The 'Senmon Gakko' (Special Training Colleges) offer courses that usually last for two years. Students are granted the Technical Associate Degree and are entitled to be transferred to an undergraduate course of the 4-year universities.

University level studies:

University level first stage: Higher education/ University study:

Higher education consists of a four-year course (six years in Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry). Since 1979, applicants to national and public universities have had to sit for the 'Unified First Stage Examination' before passing entrance examinations. In addition to study in a specialized field, general education (which includes Humanities and Social and Natural Sciences) is obligatory for every student. A credit system is used and the minimum requirement for graduation is the acquisition of 124 credits (in Medicine and Dentistry, separately designated) including credits in general subjects, foreign languages and Health and Physical Education. The degree awarded at the end of the first stage is that of Gakushi (Bachelor's degree). Some have a specific title like Igakushi (Professional degree), Juigakushi (Veterinary degree) and Shigakushi (Dentistry degree). In 1991, the Ministry introduced a reform whereby those who had not graduated from a university could obtain a Bachelor's degree under certain circumstances and subject to screening by the National Institution for Academic Degrees.

University level second stage: Further specialization:

Further specialization takes place in postgraduate schools "daigaku-in", which do not exist in every university, and leads after two years to the Shushi (Postgraduate Diploma or Master's Degree). It requires a number of additional credits, a research thesis and a final examination. There is no postgraduate diploma for medical studies, but Doctorates may be obtained.

University level third stage: Specialization and personal research:

The third stage leads to the highest university degree, the Hakushi (Doctorate). Studies last for a minimum of three years following upon the Shushi (four years in Medicine and Dentistry). Candidates to the Hakushi must submit a thesis and undergo a final examination. The Katei-Hakase (Doctorate by course work) is conferred on those who graduate from a graduate school programme and the Ronbun-Hakase (Doctorate by dissertation) is conferred on those whose dissertation has passed examination.

Teacher education:

Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers

Most elementary school teachers are trained in four-year undergraduate courses at national universities, although some are trained at private universities and junior colleges. Teachers employed in national schools are public officials.

Training of secondary school teachers

Lower secondary school teachers have mainly taken a four-year undergraduate course, while upper secondary school teachers are required to take both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Training of higher education teachers

There is no certification system for teachers at institutions of higher education. Qualifications for teachers at universities (including graduate schools), junior colleges and colleges of technology are specified in the ordinances of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture entitled "Standards for the Establishment of Universities", "Standards for the Establishment of Graduate Schools","Standards for the Establishment of Junior Colleges" and "Standards for the Establishment of Colleges of Technology".

Non-traditional studies:

Distance higher education

The University of the Air (Hoso Daigaku) was established in 1983 under government auspices. It is a degree-granting institution and uses radio, television and other media. It promotes collaboration with other private and public universities by increasing mutual recognition of earned credits, by developing the exchange of teaching staff and by making broadcast material available to other universities.

Lifelong higher education

The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture promotes specific existing institutions which provide people with learning opportunities in the form of non-formal education. The Ministry has created a Lifelong Learning Bureau and Lifelong Learning Council. There are also correspondence and evening courses offered by universities and colleges. In principle, they are virtually identical to daytime courses. The Ministry has introduced a system in which non-degree students can learn a single subject or a small number of subjects at universities and earn regular university credits for these subjects; university courses have been expanded so that universities may adopt their programmes to the life patterns of working adults.

Higher education training in industry

Companies offer in-service training for adults. This involves intensive freshman training, as well as on the job and collective training.


Administration & co-ordination:

Responsible authorities:

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

Head: Nariaki Nakayama, Minister

3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-8959

Tel: +81(3) 5253-4111

Fax: +81(3) 3591-8044

WWW: http://www.mext.go.jp/english/index.htm

Role of governing body: Government Ministry responsible for education, culture, sports, science and technology

Japan Association of National Universities (Kokuritsu Daigaku Kyokai)

Head: Makoto Nagao, President

7-3-1 Hongo
Tokyo 113-0033

Tel: +81(3) 3813-0647

Fax: +81(3) 3818-8656

EMail: sato@janu.po-jp.com

WWW: http://www.kokudaikyo.gr.jp

Association of Private Universities of Japan (Nihon Shiritsu Daigaku Kyokai)

Head: Sunao Onuma, President

Administrative officer: Hidebumi Koide, Secretary-General

International relations: Toshihiro Ito

4-2-25 Kudan-kita, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0073

Tel: +81(3) 3261-7048

Fax: +81(3) 3261-0769

EMail: ito@shidaikyo.or.jp

WWW: http://www.shidaikyo.or.jp

Japan Association of Municipal and Prefectural Colleges and Universities (Koritsu Daigaku Kyokai)

Head: Takao Kodama, President

Administrative officer: Natsuki Miyazawa, Chief Secretary

Yoshiara-bdg., 1-6-13 Nishi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku
Tokyo 105-0003

Tel: +81(3) 3501-3336

Fax: +81(3) 3501-3337

EMail: jimu@kodaikyo.jp

WWW: http://www.kodaikyo.jp/

Role of governing body: Organization for contact with Municipal and Prefectural Colleges and Universities consisting of 74 members

Central Council for Education (Chuo Kyoiku Shingikai)

Head: Jiro Nemoto, President

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology 3-2-2 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0013

Tel: +81(3) 3581-4211

Fax: +81(3) 3581-9149

WWW: http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/shingi/index.htm

Japan University Accredidation Association (Daigaku Kijun Kyokai)

Head: Tadao Kiyonari, President

Administrative officer: Susumu Sawada, Executive Director

International relations: Hiroshi Hokama, Senior Managing Director

2-7-13 Ichigayasadohara, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo 162-0842

Tel: +81(3) 5228-2020

Fax: +81(3) 5228-2323

EMail: info@juaa.or.jp

WWW: http://www.juaa.or.jp

National Institute for Educational Policy Research (Kokuritu Kyoiku Seisaku kenkyu Sho)

Head: Shigenori Yano, Director-General

6-5-22 Shimomeguro Meguro-ku
Tokyo 153-8681

Tel: +81(3) 5721-5150

Fax: +81(3) 5721-5517

WWW: http://www.nier.go.jp


Admission to university-level studies

Name of secondary school credential required: Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho

For entry to: Universities and junior colleges

Entrance exams required: Scholastic achievement tests, including the nation-wide entrance examination, called Unified First Stage Examination, administered by the National Centre for University Entrance Examinations. At the undergraduate level, an entrance examination is required at all universities except the open university. Examinations mostly consist of a written test and interview.

Foreign students admission

Admission requirements: Foreign students from countries where school education lasts for 10 or 11 years can be eligible to enter higher education institutions in Japan after they complete any of the "courses of preliminary study for university entrance" authorized by the Ministry of Education. They must be at least 18 years of age and sit for an entrance examination.

Entry regulations: A visa granting foreign student status must be obtained before entering Japan

Language requirements: Japanese courses (one to one-and-a-half years) are available at the Japanese Language School of the International Students Institute and the Kansai International Student Institute, as well as at some private universities to upgrade students' knowledge of Japanese.

Application procedures:

Apply to:

Institutions of higher education

Recognition of studies & qualifications:

Studies pursued in home country (System of recognition/accreditation): The National Institution for Academic Degrees (http://www.niad.ac.jp/english/index.htm) assesses programmes of non-university institutions and evaluates public universities.

Studies pursued in foreign countries (bodies dealing with recognition of foreign credentials):

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

3-2-2 Kasumigaseki
Tokyo 100-8959

Tel: +81(3) 5253-4111

Fax: +81(3) 3591-8044

WWW: http://www.mext.go.jp/english/index.htm

References to further information on foreign student admissions and recognition of studies

Title: Japanese Colleges and Universities

Publisher: Association of International Education

Title: Student guide to Japan

Publisher: AIEJ, http://www.aiej.or.jp/study_j/sgtj_e.html


Main student services at national level

Information Centre, Japanese Association of International Education

2-79 Aomi
Tokyo 135-8630

Tel: +86(3) 5520-6131

Fax: +86(3) 5520-6121

EMail: nippon@aiej.or.jp

WWW: http://www.aiej.or.jp

Category of services provided: Social and welfare services; Special services/Centre for foreign students

Services available to foreign Students: Yes

International Student Institute

PO Box 3-22-7
Kitashinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo 169-0074

Category of services provided: Special services/Centre for foreign students

Services available to foreign Students: Yes

Health/social provisions

Social security for foreign students: Yes

Student expenses and financial aid

Student costs:

Home students tuition fees: Minimum: 773800 (Yen)

Maximum: 5035368 (Yen)

Publications on student services and financial aid:

Title: Study Abroad 2004-2005, 32nd Edition

Author: UNESCO

Publisher: UNESCO Publishing

Year of publication: 2003


Principal national bodies responsible for dealing with international cooperation and exchanges in higher education:

Japan Student Services Organization

Head: Yasuo Kitahara

2-79 Aomi, Koto-ku
Tokyo 135-8630

Tel: +86(3) 5520-6131

Fax: +86(3) 5520-6121

EMail: nippon@jasso.go.jp

WWW: http://www.jasso.go.jp

Participation of country in multilateral or bilateral higher education programmes

Name of exchange programme: APEC Education Forum

Name of exchange programme: Asia and the Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development (APEID)

Name of exchange programme: Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All (APPEAL)


Usual grading system in secondary school

Full Description: Grading is on a scale of 5.

Highest on scale: 5 maximum

Pass/fail level: 2 minimum pass mark

Lowest on scale: 1 fail

Main grading system used by higher education institutions

Full Description: A variety of grading systems is used, but the most common is the percentage scale with 60 per cent as the pass mark. A=80-100% B=70-79% C=60-69% F= (fail)0-59%

Highest on scale: 100%

Pass/fail level: 60%

Lowest on scale: 0%

Other main grading systems

Marking: yu (excellent), ryou (good), ka (pass), huka (fail).


Data for academic year: 2004-2005

Source: MEXT and JASSO Websites, 2005

Note on Higher Education Institutions: Also 13 National Junior Colleges, 49 Public Junior Colleges and 463 Private Junior Colleges; and Seminaries such as Tokyo Union Theological Seminary.

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