How to Apply for a Master's Degree in Japan?

Japan is a country with rich cultural history. Apart from being a global tech Giant, the Japanese have made their mark in the world through a self-sustainable attitude and strict work ethic. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Japan is a much sought after destination for higher studies.

If you are aiming to apply for a Master's degree in Japan, there are certain prerequisites that you have to meet.

Entry requirements

1.      A Bachelor’s degree or an international equivalent, is a must.

2.      Provide Graduate entry test score such as GRE, after checking the exact requirements at your chosen university. You might also be asked to take an entrance examination in your subject area. 

3.      If English is not your first language, you’ll need to provide an English language certificate, such as TOEFL or IELTS unless you studied your undergraduate degree in a country where English is the official language.

4.      In case, you want to join a course delivered in Japanese, then you will have to demonstrate proficiency, most likely through the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

Documents required

If you are planning to take your Master's degree in Japan, here is the list of documents that you’ll need to submit:

1. Application form, which is available online in a downloadable format. 

2. Statement of Purpose (SOP) or academic essay is extremely important. 

3. Bachelor diploma/degree certificate

4. Transcripts

5. Letter of Recommendation (LOR) or Reference Letter. In most cases, 2 in  number.  

6. English-proficiency test scores, like those TOEFL/IELTS

7. Certificate of Japanese- Language Proficiency, if required.

6. Application fee certificate or receipt.

The Selection Process

The process of selection for a Master’s program, in Japan happens to have a lot of similarities with that of a PhD. It is advisable to look out for a potential supervisor for your dissertation project before submitting your application. This shows that you’re serious about your long-term goals and aspirations.

While looking out for a suitable program supervisor, consider if their English language skills are sufficient to read your dissertation. Your e-mail conversations with the supervisor could tell you a lot. But, a research publications in English by the supervisor is a stronger testimony. Know and learn about their research expertise by exploring their topic of interest. Their articles in English-language journals can help you learn all about it better, if you’re not well acquainted with the Japanese language.

Public universities in Japan commonly operate a two-step selection process. If you are successful in going through the document screening process, you will be called for an interviewed in person or through video conferencing, depending on your location. Usually, applicants dwelling in Japan are invited to the university for a personal interview.

Immigration & Visa Process for aspiring Master's Degree Students in Japan

Your university will be able to apply on your behalf to get you a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence, once you have accepted their offer of admission. the Certificate is issued by a Regional Immigration Bureau in Japan. You need to present the certificate sent by your university to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your country of residence, at the time of applying for your visa. Once you arrive in Japan, you will be granted the status 'College Student' by the immigration authorities. Depending on what information your university provides in the Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence. There are two periods of stay for Masters students which is - two years or two years and three months. This process takes much less time and effort in the large Japanese Airports. 

There is another possibility to get your visa, without a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate in your home country. This might however, be a longer process than the previously mentioned one. The increase in processing duration is because, your documents have to be sent back and forth between your home country and Japan. 

While you are in Japan, you must always carry a Resident Card issued by your Regional Immigration Bureau. In case you are planning to switch your course, institution or withdraw from studies, it is imperative that you inform a Regional Immigration Bureau. 

In case you leave Japan for a holiday or for a temporary period of time, you do not have to apply for a re-entry permit, as long as you indicate that you intend to return. 

Opportunities for Employment

Japan being the third-largest economy in the world, offers abundant employment opportunities for international postgraduates.

However, there are certain procedures and norms that you will have to follow before finding work. You will need to change your visa status from “College Student” to one that reflects your desired career path. To find out more about this process, you can check further details at  the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s official website.