The Japanese Program at UW-Madison, offered through the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, considers study abroad in Japan an incredibly enriching experience for our undergraduate students. It provides students a unique opportunity to develop or improve language proficiency, gain deeper understanding of this fascinating culture in its complexity, and broaden one’s perspectives of oneself and others. The experience can be literally “life-changing.” Hence, although study abroad is not required of the major or certificate, it is highly recommended.
As a Japanese major or certificate student, you can study abroad during almost any time in your college career, but there are some important facts to consider. The information below will help you plan your study abroad experience.
Prospective Japanese Students
Completion of Fourth Semester Japanese (EA 204) is required for our exchange programs with Keio, Kyoto, and Nanzan. The Hokkaido and Sophia exchange programs require completion of Second Semester Japanese (EA 104). You are allowed to apply for a program before you have finished the necessary language coursework as long as you intend to complete the requirement before your time abroad. In order to declare a major in Japanese you need to complete Fourth Semester Japanese, and it is advisable to declare a major as soon as you can do so.
Research your program options! Beyond the IAP website, don’t forget about the Study Abroad Fair during the fall semester. IAP and the Japanese program also typically offer a yearly informational session on program options in Japan. Drop by the Peer Advisors in the Study Abroad Resource Center (3rd Floor Red Gym) to learn more about the study abroad process. Take advantage of advising appointments with IAP professional advisors and with your academic advisor(s) as well.
You will apply for your program of choice through IAP’s online application system. You are also required to submit a list ranking your program preferences. We make every effort to honor your first choice, but sometimes that is not possible. In such cases, we consult you about your choice and offer placement into the second or the third choice. Once you are accepted to a program by IAP, there will be additional application materials to complete in order to formally apply to your host university.
Applications are due twice each year; in late November for Academic Year programs, and in early May for Spring programs. Specific deadlines are listed on each IAP program page.
Japanese Course Considerations Abroad
When you study abroad, you will be given a placement test at your respective Japanese university. No matter in which level you are placed, you will receive UW credits for the next level language sequence. So, if you have finished Fourth Semester Japanese at UW, you will receive credit for Fifth and Sixth Semester Japanese (for a year program) regardless of the level in which you are placed at the Japanese university. Some of our exchange partners offer their Japanese language instruction as multiple 1- or 2-credit courses, in areas such as speaking, listening, reading, writing, kanji, etc. We will “bundle” all Japanese language courses you take during a single semester, which will be posted together as the course you need to progress in the Japanese language sequence.
Besides Japanese language courses you can take courses taught in English in, for example, Japanese literature, history, religion, and culture. We prefer, however, that you take one of the two Japanese literature requirements (EA 353 & 354) at UW-Madison. Each exchange program offers a slightly different mix of English course offerings, so compare these options as you consider your program choice.
Suppose you take EA 353 at UW-Madison and expect to satisfy EA 354 (3 credits) in study abroad. Many of the courses offered at Japanese universities are for two credits. In such cases, make sure you take two 2-credit courses on similar topics, which can be bundled and equated as EA 354.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Japanese Major
If you wanted to study abroad in your sophomore year, you would need to take the third and fourth semester Japanese courses during the summer prior to your study abroad. If you choose not to take summer coursework, you are eligible for Hokkaido or Sophia.
We consider the junior year to be an optimal time for study abroad. You will have taken four semesters of Japanese and a couple of other literature and culture classes, and you will be well positioned to take full advantage of the study abroad experience.
It is still possible to study abroad in your senior year. All the credits you take abroad will count as UW in-residence credit, so you can graduate while abroad. Make sure, however, you have satisfied all breadth/depth requirements and requirements for other majors (if you have one). Be sure to work carefully with your academic advisor. If you will be entering graduate school or starting a position that requires proof of your degree, keep in mind that most of our programs in Japan will not issue spring transcripts until September. Your degree will show that you graduated in May, but it will not be posted by UW-Madison until after IAP can record your study abroad courses and grades on your UW-Madison transcript.
Questions to Ask
Your Academic Advisor
- What classes must I complete for my degree (breadth/depth, major requirements, etc.)?
- Do I need to be on UW-Madison’s campus for any courses in my major?
- How many electives do I have outside of my major?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- When will I know course equivalents for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
Identifying Programs That are Right for You
You will be able to make progress on the Japanese major on any of the programs listed below. Each program will offer a slightly different experience in terms of the courses offered, duration of study (spring or academic year), type of housing, and specific location. Each program will offer Japanese language instruction and a number of courses taught in English. Some programs will offer more English language options than others, so be sure to look at the program details if there are specific subjects you are interested in studying.
Japan, Kyoto: Kyoto University Exchange
Kyoto University is a prestigious national university in Japan. This program is offered in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, which is filled with temples and history to explore. Requires 4th Semester Japanese. Offered for spring and year durations.
Japan, Nagoya: Nanzan University Exchange
This program is offered in Nagoya, one of Japan’s largest cities. Nagoya is a center of industry and is home to some of Japan’s largest corporations. Nanzan’s Center for Japanese Studies has a strong Japanese language program, and is our only exchange program in Japan which offers a homestay option. Requires 4th Semester Japanese. Offered for spring and year durations.
Japan, Sapporo: Hokkaido University Exchange
Hokkaido University is a national university located in Sapporo, the largest city on Japan’s north island of Hokkaido. Sapporo is known internationally for its Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri), which features magnificent snow and ice sculptures. Requires 2nd Semester Japanese. Offered for spring and year durations.
Japan, Tokyo: Keio University Exchange
Keio University is known for its strong Japanese Language Program (JLP), and is the oldest university in Japan. Located in Tokyo, Keio will provide you with the chance to live in one of the world’s largest and most exciting cities. Requires 4th Semester Japanese. Offered for spring and year durations.
Japan, Tokyo: Sophia University Exchange
Sophia University values its reputation as an internationally-focused institution, and offers more coursework in English than our other exchange programs in Japan. Sophia is also located in Tokyo, giving you the chance to experience Japan’s bustling capital city and all it has to offer. Requires 2nd Semester Japanese. Offered for spring and year durations.
Search all IAP programs
Research all programs using the IAP Program Search page. There may be other programs that are a better fit for your individual needs or interests.