Recommended Programs for Japanese Major

As a Japanese major, study abroad will be one of the most important experiences of your academic career. Studying abroad in Japan will give you the opportunity to interact with many native speakers, which is key to language acquisition. In addition, study abroad will allow you to experience Japanese culture first-hand. Considering the many differences between Eastern and Western culture, study abroad is particularly important for Japanese majors.

Japanese majors who study in Japan always want to go back post-graduation. Many pursue graduate degrees and careers abroad. If you are considering work abroad after graduation, studying in Japan as an undergraduate will give you a competitive edge in your applications for international jobs and graduate programs.

Typically, Japanese majors participate in study abroad programs that offer intensive language courses. With the approval of your advisor, literature and other culture courses may also be taken abroad. See the Fulfilling Academic Requirements section of this MAP for more information about how to coordinate your study abroad experience with your 4-year graduation plan.

Many study abroad options are available to you. From 8-week summer programs to full-year enrollment at a Japanese university, there are plenty of opportunities to earn credit toward your degree while studying abroad.

Participating in a reciprocal exchange makes the cost of study abroad comparable to tuition at the UI. In addition, various scholarships are available for Japanese majors wishing to study abroad. More information about these awards can be found here

Ideally, Japanese majors should study abroad during their second or third year of language study.

Keep in mind that in some cases your session abroad will run according to the Japanese academic calendar (March through December).


Your first year is best spent fulfilling general education requirements and language prerequisites. If you’re interested in getting a head start on your language study, the summer between your first and second year is a good time to study abroad.


Sophomore year is a good time to study abroad. Most language credit earned abroad will count toward your major. Refer to your 4-year graduation plan to ensure you’ll be at the right language level and will have earned the required number of hours before your fifth semester begins. Depending on your program, you might be able to get literature or other culture courses approved by your major advisor.


Junior year is also a good time to study abroad. Again, most language courses taken abroad will count toward your major —just be sure to review your language level before enrolling so you don’t double your language courses. Depending on your program, you might be able to get literature or other culture courses approved by your major advisor.


You may also study abroad during your senior year —just be sure that all of your requirements will be met for graduation upon your return.


If you can’t seem to fit study abroad in during the school year, consider a short-term summer program like the Hokkaido Summer Language Program! Or one of the other summer programs suggested here.

Japanese Major Courses

While none of your major requirements must be fulfilled at the UI, Japanese majors are generally advised to enroll in intensive language programs abroad.

Be careful not to enroll in language courses you’ve already fulfilled. To avoid this, review your language level before registering for courses abroad. Note: reserving your elective hours to use for study abroad courses will give you the flexibility needed for fitting a year of study abroad into your 4-year graduation plan.

Visit the Office for Study Abroad and/or consult with your advisor in the Japanese Department to discuss study abroad courses you could take to fulfill UI requirements. Once you choose your courses, you’ll need to fill out a Study Abroad Credit Approval Form (available in the Office for Study Abroad) and return it to your Study Abroad Advisor prior to your departure.

General Education and Electives

Japanese exchange programs offer few courses that will count toward your general education requirements (most of the courses you take abroad will count toward your language requirements). General education courses are best fulfilled at the UI.

Again, reserving your elective hours to use for study abroad courses will give you the flexibility you need to fit a year of study abroad into your 4-year plan.

The Japanese academic calendar begins in March and runs through December. Some Japanese universities have adjusted their international programs to correlate with the U.S. academic calendar; in other cases, your study abroad program will require you to leave in March and return in December (so you’re not overseas for two months—mid-January to late March—with nothing to do). Be sure to discuss this with a study abroad advisor and organize your travel schedule accordingly.

Students wishing to participate in an exchange program should begin planning early (two full semesters in advance of the semester you wish to study abroad) in order to secure an exchange spot.

Limited transfer credit is allowed for Japanese minors. Japanese minors planning to study abroad should be particularly diligent about getting a faculty advisor’s approval before registering for courses overseas.

It is recommended that Japanese majors participate in accelerated language programs while overseas. Double majors might consider programs which combine non-intensive language study with coursework taught in English.

Students planning to study abroad during the summer should participate in programs which aim to fulfill one year of language study. Recommended summer programs include: the Hokkaido Summer Program, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Summer Program, the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (Columbia U), and CET Osaka.

While we suggest that you look at the following programs first, feel free to browse the programs section of the Office for Study Abroad website, explore an online directory of study abroad programs, and consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room. Before making your final decision, be sure to consult with a Japanese programs advisor in the Office for Study Abroad.

The UI Nanzan Exchange

This reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and Nanzan University in Nagoya allows up to four UI students to undertake a year of study at Nanzan's Center for Japanese Studies. Available courses include seven levels of Japanese language study and courses in humanities and social sciences taught in English. Some courses are readily applicable toward requirements for a major in Japanese Language & Literature. Preference is given to applications for year-long study, but students wishing semester-only may apply. Living options include a Home Stay Program that places the student in a Japanese home as a family member; dorm or residence hall accommodations are also possible. Program runs September to May. GPA: 3.0 (firm).

The UI Nagoya University of Foreign Studies Exchange

This reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) allows up to four UI students to undertake a year of study at the NUFS Japanese Language Institute. Courses offered include language study at all levels and Japanese Culture Workshops. English-taught, 2 semester hour classes attended by local students include: history, culture, society, economics, business and education.  Living options include single rooms at International House, NUFS' on campus dormitory where international and Japanese students mix.  Housing in studio apartments in a private apartment house within walking distance from campus may also be available. Year or spring semester study. GPA: 2.75 or strong endorsement of Japanese instructors.

The Kanda Exchange

This reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and Kanda University of International Studies allows one UI student to undertake a year of study in the Japanese Language and Culture Program at Kanda. Exchange students take courses in the Japanese Language and Culture department. Kanda University is located in a residential area neighboring an industrial park, between downtown Tokyo and Narita international airport. Modern buildings house state of the art technological support for interactive language learning. Living options include single rooms in the International Student Dormitory located near campus, reached in 10 minutes by bicycle or through public transportation. Students eat at campus cafeterias or prepare meals in the dormitory’s communal kitchen.  Year study from September to end of July; semester-only can be an option. GPA: 2.75

UI Meiji Exchange

The Meiji University Exchange runs on the Asian academic calendar, March to December. The exchange is open to undergraduates in fourth year Japanese at the time of application. Applicants are required to take the Japanese Language Test and submit results as a basis for admission as a visiting student to one of Meiji’s Departments. Supplementary Japanese language courses are provided by the Center for International Programs. The School of Global Studies offers classes in English. Graduate students who have a minimum of third year Japanese and a viable research project, and are nominated by their UI department, are eligible to apply. Meiji provides dormitory accommodations near their Shinjuku campus at reasonable cost.

The Hokkaido Summer Language Institute

A program of the Hokkaido International Foundation covering one year of college language study in an 8 week summer program, mid-June to mid-August. Homestay with host families in Hakodate —a beautiful, quiet, and hospitable city with a population of 290,000. The night view from Mt. Hakodate is considered one of the most spectacular in the world. Highly competitive admissions. GPA: 2.75

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Summer Program

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Ritsumeikan APU) offers an eight-week summer program that combines intensive Japanese language study at beginning and intermediate levels with some 2 semester hour Asian Studies classes taught in English. The program includes field trips to local cultural sites in areas throughout Kyushu, putting students in touch with both ancient and contemporary Japan.

Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (Columbia U)

The six-week summer program offers intensive training in advanced and classical Japanese for highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students who have completed at least three years of Japanese or the equivalent. You will be able to enroll in small classes, participate in excursions and cultural activities as well as choose from a variety of housing options. The program runs from June to mid-July. GPA: 3.0

CET Osaka

This program is for students who want to unleash their Japanese language skills. Students exercise their Japanese language every day—in class, on the street, with roommates, for assignments, in conversation—and return to the US with vastly improved skills. Japanese language learners of all levels and majors are welcome (the summer program is open to students with at least two semesters of previous Japanese language study). Students complete at least one year of university-level Japanese each term.