The longer you study in Japan, the more fluent your Japanese will become and the more you will become more acclimated to Japanese customs and ways of thinking. However, longer stays also cost more in terms of tuition and living expenses. When planning to come to study in Japan, it is important to have a reasonable budget in mind. Let’s divide study abroad programs into 3 types: short-term (from several months to one year), medium-term (two to three years), and long term (over three years).
For short–term plans, you could make use of the exchange agreements between universities. If you are university student in your own country, it is recommended that you take part in such programs. If you have graduated from university, you could study in a Japanese graduate school for six months to one year as research student. Depending on your major, Japanese ability may not be necessary.
If you were not a college student in your own country, it is better for you to focus on Japanese language learning as the purpose of your short-term study abroad plan. By learning Japanese in a special course of a university for one year, it is possible for you to live and participate in Japanese society. Shorter programs offer Japanese study at a language school for six months, or participation in Japanese lectures over a summer to master basic Japanese. For applicants who have advanced Japanese language ability, study for six months to one year at a graduate school as an auditor is possible.
For medium-term plans, there are ways to enter a vocational school or college after one year of study in a Japanese language school. Students with such plans should set a goal for their one year’s study in a Japanese School, such as passing the N2 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Search for Japanese schools that offer that kind of curriculum.
There are master’s programs that use English. If you can follow lectures in English, there is no need to learn Japanese in order to acquire a master’s degree.
There are lots of ways for applicants to study long-term in Japan. Those who have completed a university undergraduate program in their own country could enter into master’s course or graduate school as a researcher after studying in a Japanese language school for one or two years. Students with advanced English ability could enter directly into a master’s course or doctoral course where lectures are taught in English. On the other hand, students who have not graduated from a university could enter into undergraduate course after studying in Japanese schools for one or two years, and then spend four years in an undergraduate program to get their bachelor’s degree. Alternately such students could also choose to study two years in vocational schools to acquire specialized qualifications.