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Studying in Japanese Vocational School 

Thinking about studying in a vocational school in Japan as an international student? It's an awesome opportunity to dive into honing your skills while soaking up the incredible culture Japan has to offer. Whether you're into cars, digital animation, or anything in between, Japanese vocational schools are known for their top-notch training and massive industry connections. 

Vocational schools offer a focused and efficient alternative to traditional universities, providing hands-on training in specific trades or professions. With shorter program durations and lower tuition costs, vocational education enables students to enter the workforce sooner and with less financial burden. These schools work closely with industry partners to ensure their curriculum remains relevant, equipping graduates with practical skills and knowledge directly applicable to their chosen field. The emphasis on hands-on learning allows students to gain real-world experience and prepares them for entry-level positions in high-demand industries.

If you're considering building your career in Japan, studying in a vocational school can be a promising option. There are three types of vocational schools in Japan: junior colleges, colleges of technology, and specialized training colleges.

Junior College

In Japan, a junior college (短期大学, tanki daigaku) is an educational institution that offers two-year programs of study beyond secondary education. These colleges provide students with specialized vocational or academic training in various fields, similar to vocational schools or community colleges in other countries.

Junior colleges in Japan typically offer programs in areas such as humanities, social sciences, education, business administration, healthcare, and early childhood education. The curriculum emphasizes practical skills and prepares students for entry-level positions in their chosen field or for further study at a four-year university.

Upon completion of their two-year program, students at junior colleges earn an associate degree (短期大学士, tanki daigakushi). This degree is equivalent to two years of undergraduate study and may allow graduates to transfer credits to a four-year university to continue their education if they choose to do so.

Junior colleges play an important role in Japan's education system by providing alternative pathways for students who may not wish to pursue a traditional university education or who are seeking more specialized vocational training. They offer a more practical and focused approach to education and often have strong ties to local industries, providing students with valuable opportunities for internships and job placements.

College of Technology

Colleges of Technology (高等専門学校, kōtō senmon gakkō), commonly referred to as "kōsen," are specialized institutions of higher education that offer advanced vocational and technical training in various fields of engineering and technology. These colleges provide a five-year program of study after completing middle school, leading to the award of an associate degree (kōsen gakushi).

As a general practice, international students typically begin their studies in the third year of a College of Technology program in Japan, bypassing the first and second years. This approach allows international students who completed their high school to join the program at a more advanced stage, focusing directly on specialized coursework relevant to their chosen field of study. International students can accelerate their progress towards earning an associate degree while still benefiting from the hands-on training and industry-focused curriculum offered by the College of Technology. 

Colleges of Technology emphasize hands-on learning and practical skills development in disciplines such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, information technology, civil engineering, and others. The curriculum typically includes a combination of classroom instruction, laboratory work, and practical training in industry settings.

One distinguishing feature of Colleges of Technology is their strong partnership with industry. These institutions often collaborate closely with companies and organizations to ensure that their curriculum remains relevant to the needs of the workforce. Students may have opportunities for internships, co-op programs, and industry-sponsored projects, providing them with valuable real-world experience and enhancing their employability upon graduation.

Graduates of Colleges of Technology are well-prepared for careers in technical fields and have the option to enter the workforce directly or continue their education at a university to pursue a bachelor's degree. These institutions play a crucial role in Japan's education system by producing skilled professionals who contribute to the country's technological advancement and economic development.

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Specialized Training Colleges

Specialized Training Colleges, known as "Senmon Gakkō" (専門学校) in Japanese, are educational institutions in Japan that offer specialized vocational training in various fields. These colleges provide practical, hands-on education geared towards preparing students for specific careers or industries. 

Specialized Training Colleges offer programs in a wide range of fields, including but not limited to:

1. Beauty and Cosmetology

2. Fashion Design and Merchandising

3. Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management

4. Information Technology and Computer Science

5. Graphic Design and Multimedia Arts

6. Music, Performing Arts, and Entertainment

7. Healthcare and Medical Technology

8. Tourism and Hospitality

These colleges typically offer shorter, more focused programs compared to universities, ranging from several months to two or three years in duration. The curriculum emphasizes practical training, internships, and real-world experience, allowing students to develop the specific skills and competencies needed for their chosen career paths. Depending on the program, graduates may receive a diploma, certificate, or specialized qualification recognized by industry standards.Depending on the program, graduates may receive a diploma, certificate, or specialized qualification recognized by industry standards.

Specialized Training Colleges play a crucial role in Japan's education system by providing alternative pathways for students who prefer a more direct route to the workforce or who have specific vocational interests. Graduates of these colleges often find employment in their respective fields shortly after completing their programs, contributing to the skilled workforce in Japan.


The MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) scholarship program in Japan offers opportunities for international students to pursue various levels of education, including junior college, college of technology, and specialized training college. If you are between the ages of 17 and 25 and have completed school education comparable to high school, you can apply to receive a full scholarship, including round-trip flight expenses, school tuition, and a monthly stipend of JPY 117,000.

In addition to scholarships provided by the Japanese government, private institutions, and organizations also offer financial aid opportunities for international students studying in Japan. However, many of these scholarships provide only a monthly stipend. While helpful, these stipends may not fully cover all costs, including tuition, accommodation, and living expenses. As a result, students may need to carefully manage their finances and consider finding additional income through part-time work to afford their studies in Japan.


Studying in a Japanese vocational school as an international student offers a unique and enriching experience, providing access to specialized training, hands-on learning opportunities, and exposure to Japan's rich culture and industry. It can serve as your very first step toward building a promising career path in Japan, potentially faster than studying at a common university.



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