How do I start?
There is no fixed application window for universities, with each university and course having their own application timeline and windows. The absolute earliest application may be for the MEXT Scholarship or Language Schools and this takes place in September the year before you enrol. For JC students, this would be during your 'A' Levels year, and for Polytechnic students, during your final semester.
Japanese courses tend to start students in the Spring intake (April) and English courses tend to start students in the Autumn intake (September), with some universities allowing students to start in either semester. Take note that applications begin slightly less than an entire year before your enrolment.
Spring Intake & MEXT Scholarship Application: Around Aug-Sept of Previous Year
Autumn Intake Application: Around Nov-Dec of the Previous Year
For Semester Exchange Programmes and Summer/Winter Schools, see:
For Japanese Language Schools, see:
If you are in your final year of studies in JC, Poly, or undergraduate studies, and are looking at going to Japan to study. You will be applying directly to each university (there is no centralised testing system like in Singapore), so be sure to check the requirements for each of your choices. Some may require additional documents, interviews, entrance exams, or none of these. So make sure to take a look first.
Most universities have an online application system, so you can submit your application details and soft copies via the online system. However, they would still require you to send the documents in hardcopy over to Japan. If you've never sent a letter overseas before (trust us, it's not uncommon), just head down to Singpost and get an envelope. Place all the documents inside, and tell them you need to mail it to Japan. There's regular Airmail which takes around 2 weeks, and EMS (registered mail with tracking numbers) that usually takes less than a week. Factor this mailing time into your application timeline, most universities set a deadline by which they need to receive their documents by.
While each university has its own unique set of application documents, here are some common ones that are typically required:
(Some universities may have a purely online form, while some may require you to fill up a paper one)
(Some universities may give you a topic to write about for an application essay)
Letter of References
(Usually they ask for two from different teachers, one evaluating academic performance and another evaluating character)
Certificate of Graduation/Prospective Graduation from your school
Official Academic Transcripts from the last 2 -3 years of school (Junior College transcripts, Polytechnic results etc.) - Need to be a certified document by the school or MOE
Standardized test scores^ (GCE 'A' Levels, IB, SAT, ACT etc.)
CCA Records (or other documents that highlight your out of classroom activities)
Note: While most universities may ask for English test scores like TOEFL or IELTS, they usually provide exemptions for Singaporeans, but be sure to check it. Some Universities may also accept GCE 'A' Levels, GCE 'O' Levels, or IB English scores as evidence of an English-based education. Otherwise, you may require a letter from the school stating that you've already been studying in English.
You should prepare this documents at least a month in advance of the application deadline, some of these would require a request to the school, or your teachers, and may take time to process. Don't end up being caught up between the deadline and waiting for your request to process. At the worst case, email into the university to inform them if you are caught in such a situation.
^Regarding Standardized Test Scores:
1) IB, ACT, SAT - Generally accepted as Standardized Test Scores
2) GCE 'A' Levels - Generally accepted as Standardized Test Scores
Certain universities do not recognize GCE 'A' Levels as Standardized Test Scores (eg. KEIO University's PEARL Programme)
Recommended to take ACT and/or SAT and use results as Standardized Test Scores if applying to such universities
3) Polytechnic Results/Diploma - Generally not accepted as Standardized Test Scores
Recommended to take ACT and/or SAT and use results as Standardized Test Scores for application to English-based undergraduate programmes by Japanese Universities
Some exceptions (Universities that accept Polytechnic results and do not require Standardized Test Scores): Waseda University (School of International Liberal Studies and School of Social Sciences) and Nagoya University's G30 Undergraduate Programmes
Most universities would likely have an application fee, although some of them may waive the application fee.
Fees range between 5,000yen to 10,000yen and can usually be paid by credit card. Bank transfers are not recommended due to their complicated nature.
A quick Google search would likely take you to where you need to go, or from the various programme links we have provided to the official sites. For reference, here are some application guidelines for some English programmes: