If you’ve read my previous post, you know I said it’s best to first apply as a “foreign trainee / research student” (外国人研究生) to the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo (東京大学大学院 情報学環・学際情報学府). The truth is, unless you got the monbukagakusho scholarship, or you’re willing to fly to Japan in July and August for the entrance exam and interviews, it’s almost impossible for a foreigner to be admitted into Todai (東大 – short for Tokyo Daigaku 東京大学).
Once I knew I didn’t get the Monbusho, I started looking into how to go study in Japan as a privately financed student. Apparently, there is a standardized test that you can take to gain admission as an undergraduate. It’s called the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU), it is a test carried out by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) since 2002. It serves to evaluate whether foreign students who wish to enroll at the undergraduate level at a Japanese university possess the necessary Japanese language skills and basic academic abilities to study at such institutions. However, this test is only administered in Japan and in a few other Asian countries and in Russia. If you live anywhere else, you’re screwed. Also, there’s no such standardized test for graduate schools. So, that means I cannot be admitted into a Japanese grad school from overseas.
After doing more research, I found out that the general case of studying in Japan begins with a student first enrolling in a Japanese-language institute. (Read this link!) You can either 1) sign up for special courses for foreign students held by private universities (valid pdf link), or 2) attend a Japanese-language institutes certified by the Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education. Now I don’t know about you, but it looks to me those Japanese-language institutes are not on the same level as a real university. I would definitely aim for 1 rather than 2. Check out the pdf link above for a list of universities offering Japanese Language programs for foreign students.
Still, having to attend a Japanese Language course at another university means that I am still quite far away from my intended grad school in Todai. I decided to use this option as a backup, and I kept digging for info at the University of Tokyo for International Students website. I looked up admission information for international students (pdf), their International Center and Japanese Language Education, after a few emails to clarify how things work, I believe I’ve found the perfect way for me to get into Todai right away – the “foreign trainee / research student” at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies. Being a research student at Todai grants you the rights to study at their International Center’s Japanese Language school. Aside from the fact that I will be getting access to at least one faculty member at the grad school, which hopefully will translate to an advantage when I apply for a graudate student, I also find that the tuition fee is considerably lower than attending other Japanese Language schools!
In the next few posts, I’ll write about what kind of research project I’ll propose. I’ll also look deeper into my backup – the Japanese courses held by private universities and report my findings here.