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Academic Degrees and Assistance

What degrees can be obtained under the Japanese educational system?

Bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is conferred upon those who have completed undergraduate studies. To graduate with a bachelor’s degree, a student must study at a university for at least 4 years (at least 6 years in the cases of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science) and acquire at least 124 credits (188 credits in the case of medicine or dentistry and 182 credits in the case of veterinary science).

Master’s degree

A master’s degree is conferred upon those who have completed postgraduate studies in a master’s course. To graduate with a master’s degree, a student must study at a graduate school for 2 years in principle (or the required number of years for research courses or fields of specialty that have set a different standard), acquire at least 30 credits in his or her special field, as well as receive necessary research guidance and pass examinations conducted by the graduate school such as writing a master’s thesis that is judged satisfactory.

Doctor’s degree

A doctorate is conferred upon those who have completed postgraduate studies in a doctor’s course. To graduate with a doctor’s degree, a student must, in principle, study at least 5 years in a graduate school (3 years for those who have completed a master’s program), acquire at least 30 credits, receive necessary research guidance and write a doctoral thesis that is judged satisfactory and pass an examination.

Associate’s degree

This is the degree conferred upon graduates of junior colleges and colleges of technology.
Junior colleges: To graduate from a junior college, students must, in principle, attend the junior college for at least 2 years and acquire at least 62 credits in the case of 2-year colleges, or, in the case of 3-year colleges, attend for at least 3 years and obtain at least 93 credits.
Colleges of technology: To graduate from a college of technology, the student must, in principle, attend for at least 5 years and acquire at least 167 credits.

Technical Associate’s degree

Graduates of post secondary courses of special training colleges that have been accredited by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as those fulfilling necessary requirements, such as minimum course attendance of least 2 years and a total of at least 1,700 hours of instruction, can call themselves “qualified specialists.”

What is the Short-term Student Exchange Program?

With the globalization of universities and the spread of inter-university credit exchange systems, many universities are now tying student exchange agreements with universities abroad and operating short-term study programs. This enables the exchange of students for study abroad lasting about one year.

Short-term student exchange not only lightens the financial and psychological burdens placed on foreign students but also allows such students to experience a foreign culture while diversifying their studies. Therefore, many universities both in Japan and abroad are aggressively moving towards expansion of such programs.

As a response to such circumstances, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has introduced a program through Japan Student Services Organization(JASSO) that supports short-term student exchange. The program offers assistance to undergraduate and postgraduate students who come to Japan on the basis of a student exchange agreement between universities for short-term study of one year or less while remaining students of their own university back home. The same support is also offered to short-term Japanese exchange students going abroad under the same conditions.