home search login

About Japan
Country Handbook

Ritsumeikan University


Program Snapshot

The Study in Kyoto Program (SKP) brings together students from around the world. It offers numerous courses in Japanese language and culture, utilizing the extensive historical and cultural resources of the ancient city of Kyoto. The program also offers courses in English regarding both Japan-related and business subjects. Students have access to over 700 student-run clubs on campus and a rich cultural environment bustling with history and tradition just beyond the doorstep. Students who study abroad at Ritsumeikan University have incredible stories to share when returning home.

What do ISEP students think about their programs in Japan?

Ritsumeikan University's Kinugasa Campus in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, is located within walking distance of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the famous temples of Kinkakuji and Ryoanji. The city enjoys a harmonious blend of the ancient and the modern, and in addition to being a base of traditional industry, higher education, and tourism, Kyoto is also home to a number of cutting-edge high-tech companies.

ISEP Exchange: undergraduate programs available for Spring semester only

ISEP-Exchange for US students.

Chance of Placement
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Limited.
Placement at Ritsumeikan is only available for the Spring semester.
Exchange space typically fills during the September placement round; students should apply for Spring semester programs by September 1.

For the most current chances of placement, see the Sites Open for Applications for US Students.

Program Dates
Semester 2: April to August
(Semester 1 is not available to ISEP students at this time.)

Fast Facts
Kyoto City, Japan (pop. 1.4 million)
Student Enrollment: 34,000
Language of instruction: Japanese, English
University Home Page

In Japanese: Colleges of Law, Social Sciences, International Relations, Policy Science, Letters, Economics, Business Administration, Science and Engineering, and Information Science and Engineering. Graduate Schools of Law, Sociology, International Relations, Policy Science, Letters, Image Arts and Science, Science for Human Services, Language Education and Information Science, Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, and Economics, Business Administration, Science and Engineering, and Technology and Management.

Courses taught in English
Students attending Ritsumeikan University through ISEP will be enrolled in the Study in Kyoto Program's Intensive Japanese Language Track (IJL): Class sizes are kept small, between 10-15 students, allowing experienced instructors to cater to the needs of each student of all skill levels.

Students may also enroll in Introduction to Traditional Japanese Arts, courses providing a unique hands-on opportunity to experience traditional culture. Traditional arts courses have covered topics such as calligraphy, Japanese confectionary, shamisen, ceramics, the tea ceremony, and ikebana.

Academic Notes

Students typically enroll in 5-8 classes per term, which averages to 12-15 hours in class per week. A term runs for 15 weeks.


Semester 1 transcripts are issued in April.
Semester 2 transcripts are issued in October.

Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the studentís home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Language Notes
Language Requirement: For courses taught in Japanese, advanced Japanese language proficiency, or JLPT N1 level is required.
Language Courses: Intensive Japanese language courses are offered in addition to regular classes during the academic year and/or semester for all levels.

Note: The host institution ultimately determines your proficiency level and course eligibility.

Special Academic Conditions
Applicants must have a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Special ISEP Application Instructions
Upon notification of acceptance, students should access Ritsumeikan Universityís homepage to download additional application materials required for submission. There are three tracks of study within the Study in Kyoto Program: the Intensive Japanese Language Track (IJL), the Japan and World Perspectives Track (JWP), and the Business Track (BT). Students should be sure to use the appropriate application form for their track of study.

Housing and Meals
Students are generally placed in single rooms with access to cooking, bathing, and laundry facilities. A stipend is provided for students to purchase meals on campus, at local restaurants, or to purchase ingredients to cook in the dormitory or apartment. Married or family housing is not available on campus; however, an equivalent stipend is provided along with some guidance in finding apartments locally.


You are responsible for all of your personal expenses including: optional fees (e.g. computer, language, science lab fees), books, local transportation, entertainment, etc. The amount below is provided as a guide; the actual amount needed will vary depending on courses and personal habits. Your personal expenses per month are estimated at JPY 60,000 (this amount includes the cost of meals). Students should be aware that they will not be able to use credit cards or personal checks for most purchases in Japan.

All students participate in a four-day orientation before the start of the semester. Topics and activities covered include:
  • Campus Tour
  • General Program Overview
  • Health Guidance Session
  • Japanese Placement Exams
  • Life in Japan Q&A Session
  • Crime & Safety Seminar
  • Earthquake Awarness Drill
Students also meet with the student "buddies" who will help them with their adjustment to Japan.


Host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.

Student Activities
Study in Kyoto Program Buddies work to assist international students as they first arrive and get used to life in Japan and at Ritsumeikan. Buddy friendships last throughout the program and often wind up being highlights of the program for many participants.

SKP Buddies and on-campus student organizations host various events for international students throughout the year, including parties, hiking, and field trips. In addition, the yearly school festival offers a unique glimpse of Japanese college life. Participation fees vary depending on the event, but many are free or of little cost to international students.

There are also over 700 student-run clubs at RU, providing diverse options for interaction with Japanese students and pursuit of personal interests.

Community Engagement (Internships, Service-Learning, Volunteering, etc.)
Students are welcome to use the resources at the on-campus Volunteer Center to pursue volunteer opportunities. The Ritsumeikan University Volunteer Center provides support for students wishing to volunteer for a good cause. Whether you are interested in health issues, the environment, or international activities, the Volunteer Center can direct you to an opportunity that meets your interests and schedule. The Volunteer Center holds information sessions, programs, and events throughout the school year to encourage students to volunteer their time.

Founded in 1869, Ritsumeikan University (RU) is one of the oldest and most prestigious private universities in Japan. RU accommodates approximately 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students, including over 700 international students, and is comprised of nine colleges, thirteen graduate schools, and a law school, as well as various research centers. Two main campuses, Kinugasa Campus located in northwestern Kyoto and surrounded by historic temples and shrines, and Biwako-Kusatsu Campus in Shiga Prefecture, which overlooks Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, provide an excellent environment for studies of the humanities, social sciences, and advanced technology fields.

Among Japanese universities, RU is particularly distinguished by its enthusiastic student body, which in addition to a commitment to academics and research, is also highly active in community service and international volunteer projects as wells as athletics and extra-curricular activities. With support from its satellite offices in South Korea, Indonesia, China, and Canada and its vast global network of nearly 200 partner institutions worldwide, RU has emerged as a top destination for international students and a center for international research collaboration. Drawing on its founding spirit of Freedom and Innovation, Ritsumeikan University will continue to evolve as an international institution of higher learning.

What Past Students have to Say
The SKP program gives students the best opportunity not only to improve their Japanese language skills but also their understanding of Japanese culture. If you are open minded you can find friends for a lifetime and you can have the time of your life. -Alexandra Reininger, Germany