The University of Tokyo (UT) was established in 1877 as the first national university in Japan. UT is known for the excellence of its faculty and students, and many of its graduates have gone on to become leaders in government, business, and the academic world. UT places a strong emphasis on cooperation and links at all levels of research and education—interfaculty, interdisciplinary, and with other universities both within Japan and abroad.
HLS exchange students will study at UT’s Graduate Schools for Law and Politics in the School of Legal and Political Studies. The School is designed to provide graduate education for students who wish to become attorneys or directors of legal affairs within companies; students interested in academia; and for international students who wish to gain a deeper understanding of legal and political studies in Japan.
The Graduate Schools for Law and Politics is located on the university’s main campus in Hongo Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, and occupies about 138 acres of the former Kaga Yashiki, the Tokyo estate of a major feudal lord. Parts of the 17th century landscaping of the original estate have been preserved to provide greenery and open space. The campus is graced by the Kaga Estate’s celebrated Akamon, or Red Gate, which dates from 1827 and has been designated as an “Important Cultural Property” by the Japanese Government. This preservation of the old alongside the new exemplifies Tokyo’s reputation as a city of cutting edge fashion, pop culture, and architecture with great respect and care for its more traditional elements. The public subway and bus systems make both the campus and larger city easily accessible to students.
Course Offerings and Credit
HLS students will register for courses through the Graduate Schools for Law and Politics. Students interested in taking courses at UT’s Faculty of Law will need permission from a UT advisor.
A semester at UT is comprised of 15 weeks of classes, and most classes meet once a week for one hour and 40 minutes. HLS students generally enroll in five to six classes for the semester, but individual course loads will vary from student to student. UT uses letter grades, with A signifying 80-100%, B signifying 65-79%, and C as the lowest passing grade signifying 50-64%. HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see the HLS semester abroad webpage for more information about course requirements and calculating semester abroad credits. See the University of Tokyo’s course catalog for information about available courses.
Nearly all courses offered at UT are in Japanese. HLS students interested in spending a semester there are expected to have a level of Japanese fluency that will enable them to perform well in class and on exams. Prior to study abroad, HLS students may improve their language proficiency and receive credit for foreign language courses at Harvard College in accordance with the HLS cross registration policy. Students may also find it helpful to arrive in Japan early for language acclimation and/or to take a language training course before law classes begin. Once the semester begins, the UT International Advisor Office sponsors a weekly Japanese language study group.
The academic year at UT runs from April through March of the following year. Winter term classes begin in October and end in January, with exams held in February. Summer term classes begins in April and end in July, with exams held in September. Please see the UT website for the most recent academic calendar.
Application Process and Timeline
Students interested in the UT exchange program should follow the semester abroad application process described on the HLS semester abroad webpage.
Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also complete the UT application form for exchange students.
The exchange agreement stipulates that UT reserve at least one spot for an HLS JD student each year. HLS may recommend more than one candidate but ultimately selection of the student will be made by UT.
UT has several dormitories for international students. Applications for the dormitories are accepted in January (for admission in April) and July (for admission in October). Because demand for dormitories is high, students are not guaranteed a dorm room. UT’s Dormitory Committee determines the allocation of dorms and makes selections based on a number of factors. More information is available on UT’s International Student Advisor website.