Is it Expensive to Study in Japan?

Is it expensive to study in Japan? This is a question that a lot of people have, and the answer is a little complicated. In this article, we will discuss a lot of factors to consider when planning to study in Japan by exploring the cost of studying in Japan and what studying in Japan looks like. We will also take a look at how the cost of studying in Japan compares to the cost of studying in four other countries.

Studying in Japan either for a graduate or postgraduate degree is relatively affordable. Even though you have to pay for several expenses, studying in Japan is possible and you can make it a reality for yourself. Through proper planning and preparation, you can study and have a decent life in Japan. 

Studying in Japan can be a good means for you to get a degree without spending so much. When you have the right information, you can fulfill your dream of getting a degree in Japan and join other students like yourself. Regardless of the type of degree that you want to study in Japan, Japan can offer you quality education at a decent cost.

As one of the top-performing OECD countries, Japan is well known for its high-tech economy and competitive educational system. Studying in Japan will not just get you an affordable education but also a high-quality education. You can also go for programs in other fields in Japan if you are not interested In the STEM field. You’ll also be able to get a quality education at an affordable cost.  

To help you decide to study in Japan, we’ll take a look at how much studying in Japan costs. This includes tuition fees, the cost of living, and other costs that you may not be aware of as a first-timer in Japan. We will also take a look at the cost of studying in some countries and how they compare to the cost of studying in Japan. Keep reading to find out more.

Tuition fees

The tuition fee is one of the many costs you have to plan to study in Japan especially if you don’t have a scholarship. Upon getting admission into a higher institution, you will be required to pay either full or half of your tuition fee to proceed with your admission into the school. 

The tuition fee for graduate programs in Japan ranges from $5,000 to $7,000 while undergraduate programs range from $7,000 to $9,000. For instance, the tuition fee for Tokyo International School is $7,673 (900,000) per year. 

Like most countries, states universities that are state-funded are a lot cheaper than private universities that are owned privately. Private universities in Japan can cost up to $12,000 which can be affordable for others but expensive with the tuition fee of state universities. You can also spread your yearly tuition fee over the two semesters included in a year for convenience so you don’t have to worry if you can’t afford to pay it at once. 

If you are studying a course in Science or Technology, it may increase the chances of having a high tuition fee in some Japanese schools. These types of programs are high-priced as a result of the level of expertise needed to deliver them so schools spend a lot of money on them.

You can find state or public schools in Japan that are subsidized since they are owned and funded by the state. Although international students pay more than citizens in Japan, studying in a public school as an international student can further reduce your tuition fee. 

You can draw up an installment payment plan for yourself and pay the tuition per semester. This will further lessen the burden of paying high tuition at once. Check with the school to find out the minimum deposit allowed and agree on how you can pay in installments. You can also check to be sure if there is a partial tuition fee waiver so you don’t have to pay the full tuition fee. These are ways through which you can reduce your tuition costs in Japan.

Let’s take a look at the living costs needed while schooling and living in Japan.

Living Costs

Schooling in Japan means that you live in Japan so you have to make plans for your living expenses. Your living costs include all you’d need to spend on your accommodation, your feeding, your housing, and even your clothing. You need these things to get by in school as you study. 

According to the guidebook by Japan Student Services Organization, the national average for the cost of living in Japan as a student, excluding academic fees, is about $758 (89,000 Yens). A student who is studying in Kobe which is the sixth-largest city in Japan mentioned that they spend about $681 per month. However, he further mentioned that this was a result of his eating habit as other students spend about $426 each month. 

Your living expenses also depend on the city you’re living in, in Japan. If you are living in one of the most expensive cities in Japan such as Tokyo, the capital city, the costs may be higher. 

The highest living expense is usually the rent but you can reduce the cost by looking for low-cost accommodations or students’ shared apartments. Some schools have dormitories for students which are often shared so you don’t have to pay so much for your rent. Your tuition does not cover this even though it is offered by the school so you may have to pay extra for it. Usually, you should not pay more than $300 for a school dormitory. 

There are student accommodations outside the school so you can rent one and share costs with one or two roommate(s). For the first month, you may have to pay a little bit more to cover some base costs or fees for the rent so you can budget extra for your first rent. 

A student who is in their fourth year studying and living in the Kanto region (Yokohama to be exact) of Japan mentioned that they spend $213(25,000 Yen) on food and drinks every month. Costs drop significantly if you are cooking yourself, and university canteens usually provide meals such as ramen and curry pork cutlets for $2 to $4(300-500 Yen). Cooking at home can help you save much more than eating out so you can make your food at home.

Transportation costs about $42 (5,000 Yen) which is affordable so you don’t have to spend up to a quarter of your monthly budget on transportation. Also, you can save much more by getting a commuter pass. As a student, you’re eligible for a commuter pass which will save you around one-third of the regular commuting expenses. You can also decide to rent an apartment that is close to your school so you don’t have to take the bus or train to get to the school.

Other Expenses

Apart from living expenses, there are other expenses that you’d need to cover. These include miscellaneous and emergencies such as health issues. It is important to get your health covered through health insurance. 

All students are required to enter the National Health Insurance Scheme in Japan which costs about ¥2,500 ($23) per month. This is important for your health since you never can tell what may happen even when you wish for the best. When you get the required health insurance, you are not only securing your health but also obeying the law of your study country. 

When you have your health insurance covered, you will be able to take care of your health regardless of how unexpected health issues arise. 

Wifi is also another expense that you have to prepare for. Not all accommodations have wifi covered in the rent so you may have to pay additional fees for wifi to be able to use the internet. You can budget $80 per month for the internet and phone contract.

You also need to cover other expenses such as clothing, internet, books, home appliances, social activities, books, phones, and membership fees. 

Some books are required for you to buy for certain courses in the university so you must budget for this also. In some schools, there are also some membership fees such as library fees that you have to pay for.

While studying and living in Japan, there may be activities that you want to experience or be a part of so you can budget around $30-$50 for this per month. You can also budget for expenses that may arise as a result of your growing interest or due to necessity.

Comparison to Other Countries

Now that you already have enough knowledge about the costs of your study in Japan, we can take a look at the comparison between the cost of studying in Japan and other popular countries.

United Kingdom

The lowest tuition you can find starts from about $10,000-$12,000. There are lots of prestigious universities in the United Kingdom which partly explains why the tuition is on the high side. Japan on the other hand does not have tuition that is as high as that in the U.K 

Some regions in the United Kingdom can be expensive to study and live in such as London. London has high standards of living and can be expensive to live in, unlike Japan. The United Kingdom is quite competitive as a lot of international students move to study there because of its business-oriented nature. Japan is not a common destination for international students as much as the United Kingdom so you may not find as many international students in Japanese schools. 

United States

In  Japan, there are barely any distinctions between the fees paid for national or international students. Both pay the same amount of tuition fee while this is not a thing in the U.S as international students pay more than national students. Tuition is also cheaper in Japan than in the United States. 

 It costs about $20,000-$60,000 per year to study in the U.S while in Japan, your tuition can be as low as $5,000, especially in national or state universities. 

You can work up to 28 hours in Japan while there are strict regulations that may not make working as an international student in the U.S an easy one. In the U.S, you can only work up to 20 hours as an international student.


Japan and Germany have different tuition structures. You can study in Germany at no cost as most schools are tuition-free. However, you will be required to take care of your living expenses which are essential to your study in Germany. From my research, I can see that most international students spend about 700 to 900 pounds ($939 to $1,207)per month on their living expenses. Most international students don’t try to go below this price range or it may be tight for them if they do. You will not spend up to $900 as living expenses in Japan even though schools are not free. 

Germany has a more diverse student population unlike Japan so there is less competition for entrance into Japanese schools among international students. 


Most schools in Norway are tuition-free and like most European countries so all you need to worry about is the living costs. To study in Norway as an international student, you need to budget monthly expenses of $1300 – $1500 as a result of the high standard of living. This is higher compared to average living costs in Japan which are usually between $500 to $750. 

In Norway, even though the living expenses are the only expenses that you have to worry about, it is almost as high as paying for tuition. 

Asides from this, there are also other expenses that you need to pay for such as the student union fee. These also contribute to the study and living expenses in Norway.


Japan can be an affordable country to study in. You should budget your money carefully and make sure you are aware of all the costs associated with studying in Japan. This will help you prepare as you should.  Make good use of the information in this article and start planning for your study in Japan and make your study abroad dream a reality.