Japan – one of the world’s richest countries – is one of the smartest too. Ranking 5th in school test ranking – and 6th in IQ ranking – it is safe to say that Japanese schools produce some of the world’s brightest students.

Fortunately for the rest of the people of the world, prestigious Japanese universities are now open for the taking. With 116 of its universities placed in the World University Rankings, there is no shortage of excellent institutions to study in Japan.

Although the country is notorious for its high cost of living, foreign students may easily offset this by studying at cheap universities. In this article, we will be looking at the cheapest universities in Japan for international students.

What Are the Requirements to Study in Japan?

Undergraduate students will need to show proof of basic education (high school certificate) spanning at least 12 years. Entrants also need to be 18 years of age upon admission.

Apart from these basic requirements, applicants should also provide a copy of his/her valid passport – as well as proof of proficiency in Japanese (or English for English-taught programs).

As for graduate students, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required. Other documents that may be needed include letters of reference and proof of financial support.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students 

Can You Study in English at Japanese Universities?

Yes. While most universities usually concentrate on Japanese-taught programs, some institutions offer English-taught programs. One is the University of Tokyo, which is lauded as the best university in Japan. Here, students may take several graduate degrees in English.

Another good option is Hokkaido University, which offers many Master’s programs in English.

Cheap Universities in Japan

1. Kyoto University

Kyoto University was founded as an imperial institution in the year 1897. Apart from being the second-oldest university in Japan, it is also heralded as the second-best institution in the country. Kyoto University is one of the cheapest universities in Japan for international students with a tuition fee of around $4,900 a year.

The university – which has 2 campuses in Kyoto and 1 in Uji – is home to almost 23,000 students. It also has a foreign community of more than 2,000 students (11% of the total population).

At Kyoto University, students may take undergraduate degrees in the fields of Integrated Human Studies, Letters, Law, Education, Science, Economics, Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The same programs are available at the graduate level, with the addition of Human & Environmental Science, Energy Science, Asian & African Studies, Informatics, Bio-studies, Global Environment Studies, Government, Management, Law, and Public Health.

2. Tohoku University

Founded in 1907, Tohoku University is renowned as the third Imperial University in Japan. It’s also ranked the third-best in Japan after the Universities of Tokyo and Kyoto.

Currently, Tohoku University has 4 campuses in the Sendai area. The Faculties of Letters, Law, Education, and Economics are housed in the South Kawauchi campus, while Medicine and Dentistry are in the Seiryo branch. The Colleges of Science, Agriculture, Pharmacy, and Engineering, on the other hand, are housed in the Aobayama campus.

This cheap university in Japan has a big student population of more than 17,000 – 12% of which come from outside Japan.

3. Nagoya University

Nagoya University (NU), which was founded in 1871 as the last Japanese imperial university, is regarded as one of the country’s best. Ranked 5th in the World Rankings, it is also listed as the 41st best university in Asia.

NU’s undergraduate faculties are organized according to the studies of Medicine, Law, Engineering, Letters, Science, Economics, Agriculture, Education, and Information Culture.

The same courses are offered at the graduate level, with the addition of specializations in Science, Mathematics, International Language Culture, International Development, and Environmental Studies.

Currently, NU serves as home to more than 15,500+ students. It also has a bustling foreign student community, which corresponds to 11% of the total enrollment rate.

4. Osaka University

Founded as the Kaitokudo in the year 1724, Osaka University, one of the affordable universities in Japan, is a designated national institution. It used to be an imperial university back in 1931 before it was renamed as such in the year 1947.

The university, which is ranked 7th in Japan, currently has 3 campuses in Suita, Minoh, and Toyonaka. These branches house the school’s 11 undergraduate and 16 graduate faculties.

Osaka University is one of the many Japanese schools to offer an English-medium undergraduate program. Launched in the year 2011, this project has helped attract many foreign students. They currently represent 12% of the university’s 22,000+ strong population.

5. Kyushu University

Founded in 1903, the former Imperial University is located in Kyushu, Fukuoka. To date, it is regarded as the 8th-best university in Japan. This prestige has helped attract many foreign students, representing 13% of the university’s 18,000+ enrollees.

This cheap university in Japan for international students is known to offer undergraduate programs in the fields of Interdisciplinary Science & Innovation, Education, Law, Letters, Sciences, Economics, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Science, Design, Engineering, and Agriculture. It also offers a handful of graduate programs in the mentioned fields, as well as that of Humanities, Socio-cultural Studies, and Human Environment studies.

6. University of Tsukuba

The forerunner of the Tokyo University of Education, the University of Tsukuba was formally established in the year 1973. Ever since then, it has become one of Japan’s finest – even placing 10th in the recent World University rankings.

Based in Ibaraki, Japan, the university specializes in the fields of Medicine, Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, and Science. Apart from these, the university also offers programs in Humanities, Social Science, and Art & Design.

The University of Tsukuba has one of the highest percentages of foreign students – corresponding to 20% of its 16,000+ enrollees.

7. Kobe University

Known in Kansai as Shindai, Kobe University is one of the most affordable universities in Japan for international students. It was founded in the year 1949 and is considered one of the largest in the country. To date, it has 15,000+ students and an international community of about 8%.

Kobe University specializes in several undergraduate degrees, such as Law, Economics, Letters, Human Development, Intercultural Studies, Business Administration, Medicine, Science, Engineering, Agriculture, and Maritime Science.

Kobe University also offers graduate programs in the areas of Humanities, Health Science, System Informatics, and International Cooperation Studies.

8. Chiba University

Chiba University, also known as Chiba-dai, is a national university founded in the year 1949. Located in the Chiba Prefecture, it is home to the Undergraduate Faculties of Letters, Education, Law & Politics, Science, Medicine, Pharmaceutical Science, Nursing, Engineering, and Horticulture.

Apart from these fields, Chiba University also offers MA/Ph.D. programs in Social Science, Humanities, and Education.

Ranked 21st in all of Japan, Chiba-dai has a medium-sized community of 13,000+ students. 5% of these are foreign nationals.

9. Sophia University

Sophia University is a private research university based in Tokyo, Japan. Founded by the Jesuits in the year 1913, this cheap university in Japan is one of the top-rated Japanese institutions to offer classes in both Japanese and English. Such has attracted many foreign enrollees, which equate to 11% of the school’s 13,511 students.

Sophia’s undergraduate programs are organized according to the Faculties of Theology, Humanities, Human Sciences, Law, Economics, Global Studies, Science & Technology, and Liberal Arts. It also has 10 graduate schools that offer a total of 29 programs.

10. University of Yamanashi

The University of Yamanashi or Nashidai is a relatively young national university, having been only established in the year 2002. As such, it only has a small student population of less than 5,000 – with foreigners corresponding to 4% of the total.

Despite this young age, Nashidai is already listed as one of Japan’s best. The university makes this possible with its prestigious undergraduate programs in the fields of Education, Medicine, Engineering, and Life & Environmental Sciences.

This affordable university in Japan also offers competitive graduate programs in the areas of Nursing, Education, and Integrated Life Science.


I hope that this article on the cheapest universities in Japan for international students was helpful. To know more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students.