Soka University

Located in Hachioji, a well-connected Tokyo suburb in the forested Tama foothills, Soka University combines a spacious campus with ease of access to bustling central Tokyo.

Explore quirky neighbourhoods and pop into local mom and pop restaurants for authentic Japanese food or head to Mt. Takao for hiking or to take the cable car for stunning scenery. Students studying in the fall can see the Hachioji Geisha parade and participate in the annual Soka festival, a traditional school culture festival that receives thousands of visitors. Soka has just over 8,000 students and has one of the most vigourous exchange programs in Japan, and also subsidizes housing!

Key information


Tokyo, Japan


English, Japanese


Fall, Winter, Academic year

Program type


Application information

Application status



2020-21 applications

Applications for Winter 2021 exchanges are still open. First come, first considered for remaining spaces!

University-specific additional requirements

Two references required - see the Eligibility section below.

2021-22 applications

Open Nov. 1, 2020

Student experience


How has your perspective changed as a result of your exchange?
"I realized that Japan has a mystical-ness that many people who want to visit seek in Japan.  They expect Japan to be filled with anime culture, or sushi restaurants, or crazy novelty experiences.  But living there for a year, touring Japan to famous areas such as Shibuya or Harajuku, were not the best things about my exchange.  The best things were finding cute little cake stores, or ramen shops run by families right in their houses or walking to a small park and setting off fireworks or even staying home and laying under the air conditioner listening to cicadas outside.  I really felt immersed in everyday life and that really gave me a new perspective on Japan."

What is one “must-do” experience you would recommend to future students? 
"Walk outside.  Take a walk for half an hour, to an hour.  Try to get lost, (but know your way home too) you will find some place you would like to check out, or some place you've never even knew existed.  The center of Tokyo was nice, but I felt that Hachioji was a treasure.  Some of the best café's and bookstores I've ever been to are there." 

Program details

Areas of Study:

Students can choose to focus entirely on Japanese language studies, or they can combine language studies with other courses taught in English. These are sorted by the faculty offering them.

Soka publishes a list of courses available in the past academic year. The exact courses offered may change slightly from year to year, but these lists online are a good reference.

There is a syllabus search available online.


Course Information:

4 Japanese credits = 1 UCalgary half-course equivalent (3 units). Most courses are worth two credits, so when your grades are transferred back to UCalgary, two courses at Soka are combined to equal one UCalgary half-course.

Exchange students at Soka University generally take 16 credits per semester.

Course restrictions: graduate level courses are not open for exchange students. To take courses in Japanese, N2 proficiency is required.

The academic year is divided into two semesters.

  • Fall Semester runs from mid September to early February
  • Spring Semester runs from early April to early August.

Please note: Students who study for the Fall semester only will not finish in time to return for winter semester, nor will students be able to study at UCalgary for Winter before going to Japan for their Spring semester.

  1. Costs

    Exchange students pay their tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider. Students need to prove resources of at least 300,000 yen per semester of their exchange for living expenses in country.

    Residence fees at Soka are waived for exchange students that live in student dorms! 

    Also, remember to include things like visas, insurance, vaccinations etc in your budget planning.

    Tokyo cost comparison vs. Calgary: Click Here

  2. Funding

    Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange? 
    Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.

    Our office administers the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved UCalgary study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page for more information.

Students can apply to live in one of Soka's student dormitories. The Residence Fees are waived for the student dormitory for exchange students! New dorms opened in 2017 - Takiyama for men, and Manyo for women. 

Student Experience: "I stayed in Takiyama International Dormitory (also known as Shin-Takiyama). It was located right on campus and maybe a 5-10 minute walk to anywhere on campus. Campus is quite quiet being in the suburbs and far from the station, and also spacious. The dormitory is a massive building (houses 300-400 students), which is actually two buildings that are 6 and 7 floors tall. The dormitory is new as of 2017. There are TV/lounge rooms on all floors, as well as a larger TV/lounge room in the basement, also a large Japanese bath (ofuro) that is accessible by dorm members. There are 3 cafeterias on campus, as well as a meal plan cafeteria in the basement of the mens dormitory buildings. Food is budget-friendly and very good for the price. The campus is very beautiful, with lots of green on and surrounding the campus, and was especially special during cherry blossom season.  Buildings are very modern and aesthetic." [Male Dorm]

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at UCalgary, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-).

Students who wish to take courses taught in Japanese should have passed either N1 or N2 of the JLPT. If you wish to take courses in English no prior Japanese is needed, as beginner Japanese courses are now offered. 

Important Visa Info: Japanese citizens must travel on their Japanese passport.

Application requirements

An academic reference is required for a complete application. While only one reference is required for our application, Soka requires both this reference and a second Japanese language reference from a different referee to be submitted with their application. You will need to get this secondary reference form filled out later during the application process after you have been nominated to this partner, since they need to be completed on a specific form.

Do I have to speak Japanese?

No. If you wish to take courses in English it is recommended to take some beginners Japanese before or during your exchange. If you wish to take courses in Japanese, please see the eligibility requirements section for details on certification. 

What resources are available for new students?

Soka offers an orientation before the start of classes to assist with transitioning to life in Japan and matters relating to university life, and they also offer airport pickup. 

Student Experience: "There was a large international student orientation that occurred in the first couple of days. Things like course selection, Japanese proficiency test, cell phone plans, bank account setup, cafeteria, campus tour etc. were given to us.  Info for dormitories were provided on arrival/move-in day. They had even arranged for the international student club to meet with groups of exchange students to bring us to grocery or department stores to collect initial supplies. I think the most useful was helping us fill out our registration documents for Japan health care, student pension (waived), and city hall as it was completely in Japanese." 

Soka offers sightseeing tours for International students, including trips to Tokyo Disneyland, Hakone to cheer for runners in the Hakone Ekiden, and ski tours to the mountains. 

The university also offers a variety of clubs and sport teams for students. 

Student Experience: "They had special events run by the international students club, some were scavenger hunt type, meeting new students, club days etc. The dormitory also held social activities at the start and end of the semester as a unit sports competition. Other events such as a school talent show invited international students to participate. Meeting locals were easy as the dormitory mainly consisted of Japanese students, however, most of my close local friends were met through mutual friends that were international students OR at clubs/classes. I would recommend joining many clubs (in Japan clubs are more serious, circles are more relaxed) to meet people."

What supports or services are available at Soka?

Soka offers a Counselling Centre on campus for students on a walk-in and booked appointment basis.
The university also offers a Health Centre for any medical issues while abroad. 

Have questions?

Study Abroad 101

Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below. Appointments are currently on zoom.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.

Book an appointment

The exchange advisor for this program is: Kathryn Bauer

How to Apply

Download the application guide

This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.

Application guide

Identify three programs of interest

We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.

Check requirements and deadlines

These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.