HOME > For Prospective Students > Enrolling in a Japanese Language School > Types of Japanese Language Schools

Generally, a prospective student first enrolls in a Japanese language institution after arrival in Japan. In many cases, he or she studies Japanese and other related subjects at the language institution for between one and two years and then takes the entrance examination for a university, etc. For this reason, the choice of the Japanese language institution is very important for the prospective student.
There are two types of Japanese language institutions for foreign students who wish to go on to a Japanese university for either undergraduate or postgraduate studies.

1. Preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by private universities

  • The preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by private universities are regular courses within the university curriculum as defined by the School Education Law. The objective of these courses is to offer preparatory education in the Japanese language, Japanese society and culture, and other necessary subjects to foreign students who wish to enter junior colleges or undergraduate or postgraduate programs at universities, either as students or researchers.
  • Subjects taught include the Japanese language, Japanese society and culture, and other basic studies, which are usually taught in Japanese. There are, however, some schools that offer the courses in English. The residence status of students taking such special courses offered by private universities is "College Student."
  • Preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students are offered at 66 private universities and junior colleges. It is important for each foreign student to select the program best suited for him or her, taking into consideration the reasons for studying in Japan, field of study and future direction, i.e., what he or she intends to do after completing the preparatory course. Depending on the school, students who remain at the same university as the one offering the preparatory Japanese language courses may enjoy special benefits and procedures, such as waiver of the admissions selection process.

List of Preparatory Japanese Language Courses for Foreign Students Offered by Private Universities /Junior Colleges

These are preparatory Japanese language programs intended for students planning to pursue higher education in Japan. The list does not include inter-university exchange programs limited to students of associated schools. Please be sure to ask the specific school for the latest information

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) website:

To apply for admission to preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by a private university, the student should select the program (school) he or she wishes to enroll in and request application documents from the school. The student will be required to have completed at least 12 years of primary and secondary education (elementary, middle and high school). If, due to the system prevailing in his or her country, the student’s secondary education was completed at less than the 12th year, he or he will have to either:

  • Enroll in an institution of higher education (e.g., a university) in his or her country and study there for at least the minimum number of years needed to bring the cumulative years of education to 12 or more.
  • Enroll in and complete a course of preliminary study for university entrance designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

List of Japanese language institutes for students without 12 years of education (authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports,Science and Technology-MEXT)

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) website:

2. Japanese language institutions providing Japanese language courses to foreigners who come to Japan

  • Foreigners who wish to study at universities or similar educational institutes in Japan may first consider entering a Japanese language institution providing Japanese language courses as a preparation prior to their undergraduate/graduate work. Types of such language institutions include senshu gakko (specialized training schools) or senmon gakko (vocational colleges), educational institutions categorized as kakushu gakko (various schools), and other establishments similar to kakushu gakko. If this is the case, prospective foreign students are advised to visit the official website of the Ministry of Justice below and confirm that the language school of their choice is a Japanese language institute that is officially designated by the Ministry of Justice and is listed in the Ministry's relevant announcement.
  • Foreign students studying at such a designated Japanese language institute may enter Japan under the status of residence of "exchange student."

Announcement by the Ministry of Justice:

"Definition of Japanese Language Institutions and the Like in Relation to Residence Status of Exchange Student According to Criteria Defined in the Ministerial Ordinance to Provide for Criteria Pursuant to Article 7, Paragraph (1), Item (ii) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act"

The above announcement can be viewed at the following page of the Ministry of Justice official website (available in Japanese only)

If you're considering
studying in Japan

- Benefits of Studying in Japan
- Schools & Life in Japan
- Start By Finding Out the Basics

Gateway to Study in Japan, a website operated by JASSO


Other Scholarships

- What other scholarships available?
- What procedures are required?
- How shall I begin?

Do not give up! There is still a way!

JASSO’s website

Learning in English at Universities

Website of Global30, a project promoted by the Japanese government


List of undergraduate courses (JASSO’s website)

List of graduate courses (JASSO’s website)