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Last modified on August 1, 2016

Education in the Junior Division and admission to the Senior Division

In the Junior Division, we place an emphasis on a liberal arts education that equips students with a broad perspective and integrative reasoning skills. Two themes run through the core of our program: late specialisation, which encourages a comprehensive education that is not confined within traditional disciplinary barriers, and early exposure to the advanced knowledge and intellectual tools needed for subsequent specialist study in the Senior Division. Courses are therefore classified into one of three categories: Foundation, Integrated or Thematic.

Foundation Courses are organized within each stream, and allow students to gain fundamental knowledge, skills and methodological tools that can be applied to a variety of specialist fields. For arts students, the six compulsory Foundation Courses are Foreign Languages, Information, Physical Education, Introductory Seminars, Social Sciences, and Humanities, with an additional, seventh course in Research Methods for Humanities and Social Sciences III students only. For science students, the seven compulsory courses are Foreign Languages, Information, Physical Education, Introductory Experiments, Mathematical Sciences, Material Sciences, and Biological Sciences.

Integrated Courses aim to provide a platform for students to acquire the fundamental framework of knowledge demanded in the present age from multiple angles and perspectives, and in doing so, to develop an integrative sense of judgement and a flexible mindset. Topics discussed will often draw from cutting-edge research and education at the Graduate School level; the aim here is not to rush into specialised education, but to allow appreciation of the sheer breadth and depth of scholarship.

Thematic Courses place an emphasis on introducing a variety of specialist fields and academic approaches. By offering classes on highly topical and interdisciplinary problems and encouraging active student participation, the objective is to equip students with a critical mindset and motivation for each specialist field. Thematic Courses consist of ‘Thematic Lectures’, taught in omnibus-style by multiple lecturers; ‘University-wide Research Seminars’, taught in small groups by staff from various departments, graduate schools and research institutions across the university; and ‘University-wide Interactive Seminars’, taught mainly through interactive and participatory methods. Students are expected to direct their own learning, e.g. by exploring the natural and cultural world in university-affiliated museums, galleries or research forests, by taking part in voluntary work outside their studies, or by actively engaging with the research and equipment in departments.

After studying such a range of courses in their Junior Division years and gaining exposure to various disciplines, halfway through the second year, students select the Senior Division departments to which they wish to gain admission in their third year. This is referred to as ‘Shingaku Sentaku’ (Admissions to Senior Division). The typical routes into each department from the respective Junior Division streams are shown in the table below. Some faculties and departments specify Junior Division courses that students are required to have taken; based on the degree of necessity, these are referred to as ‘required courses’, and ‘desired courses’, respectively. Each department offers a certain number of places for students from any Junior Division stream, e.g. from the Natural Sciences to the Faculties of Law or Economics. However, where faculties and departments have specified required Junior Division courses, such requirements must be met. It must be emphasised that admission to the desired Senior Division department is highly contingent on studies in the Junior Division.

The University of Tokyo aims to provide as flexible a system as possible that meets the evolving needs of scholarship and society, and allows students to select the direction of their education freely. Nevertheless, this freedom of choice is not an opportunity for avoiding one’s weak subjects or for taking the easiest route to graduation, but rather for developing both a breadth and depth of knowledge and intellectual capacity. We advise prospective students to actively engage with a variety of subjects at high school as well even if it may not be their forte.

In the Senior Division too, every faculty and department at the University provides a highly diverse and advanced set of programs in order to guide students from basic principles to the frontiers of current knowledge. For more information, please refer to the Senior Division overview.

Junior Division streams and admission to the Senior Division

The Junior Division stream broadly determines the choices of departments available for Senior Division study.

In 2006, a new system for admission into the Senior Division was introduced and it is now possible for some students to gain admission into any department regardless of their Junior Division stream. Moreover, admission by competitive entry based on examination results is now also possible in the following cases: from Humanities and Social Sciences I to the Faculty of Law; from Humanities and Social Sciences II to the Faculty of Economics; and from Natural Sciences III to the Faculty of Medicine. Despite these changes, the basic correspondences between Junior Division streams and Senior Division departments remain as shown in the table below. Note that other routes of admission do exist, including limited places for students of any stream in each department.

Junior Division streams
(first and second year)
Main Senior Division departments
(third and fourth year)
Humanities and Social Sciences I Faculty of Law
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Humanities and Social Sciences II Faculty of Economics
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Humanities and Social Sciences III Faculty of Letters
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Natural Sciences I Faculty of Engineering
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty of Agriculture
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Natural Sciences II Faculty of Agriculture
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Engineering
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Natural Sciences III Faculty of Medicine


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