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Graduate Semester Programs

Ritsumeikan University

pagoda on the water in Japan

The Graduate School of International Relations (GSIR) at Ritsumeikan University is the first college of international relations in Western Japan and has an excellent reputation in the Japanese academic world. Ritsumeikan University (RU), founded in 1896 by Prince Kinmochi Saionji, is nestled in the northwestern corner of Kyoto near Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) and Ryoanji Rock Garden, a location which demonstrates the coexistence of time-honored tradition and contemporary academic thought that permeates RU’s campus. Study abroad in Japan to experience this fascinating dynamic while gaining cross-cultural competencies and earning credit towards your AU degree.


Graduate students from AU can enroll in courses offered in the Global Cooperation Program (GCP) at RU. Students may earn up to nine (9) credits toward their AU degree. Classes in the GCP include:

  • Area Studies
  • Development Strategies
  • Policy Evaluation
  • Sustainable Governance and Policy

Language Requirement

As all GCP classes are conducted in English, students are not required to demonstrate Japanese language proficiency. However, students are encouraged to begin studying Japanese prior to beginning the Program in order to gain communication skills for daily life in Japan.

Academic Calendar

Spring: April – July

Fall: September - February

Students may spend one semester at Ritsumeikan. Due to the differences between the AU and Ritsumeikan academic calendars, students are encouraged to participate in the program in the spring semester.


  1. Students are registered through the SIS Office of International Programs for up to 9 AU-Ritsumeikan exchange credits (SIS-694). These exchange credits cover courses at RU only; research and/or internship credit is registered under normal AU guidelines.
  2. Students are required to meet with their AU advisor and obtain formal pre-approval before registering for courses at Ritsumeikan. This ensures that all credits earned at RU can be applied toward the student’s AU degree.
  3. Students register for RU courses once they arrive on-site at RU prior to the start of the semester.

Credit articulation: Grades and credits earned at RU are articulated through the SIS Office of International Programs upon receipt of an official transcript from RU. For conversion purposes, students should expect 1 RU credit to equal 1 AU credit.

Tuition and Fees

Students pay regular tuition, emergency international health insurance, and technology fees to AU. Students do not pay the student activity fee, sports center fee, or SIS fee while studying at Ritsumeikan.

Students are responsible for any incidental costs, such as library fines and lab fees, incurred during the program. Students are responsible for all personal expenses including housing and transportation.

Students are required to submit a non-refundable $50 application fee at the time of submitting their application to SIS Abroad. 


Students must find their own accommodations in Kyoto. There is no graduate student housing at on RU’s campus, but students may be allowed to live in RU’s International House. Any such arrangement would need to be approved upon acceptance into the program.

Visa and Immigration

Once admitted to program, students are issued a Certificate of Eligibility by RU. Students then need to take this document, with a passport and visa application, to the closest Japanese Embassy to apply for a student visa.

Students are responsible for researching the most up-to-date immigration requirements and arranging all immigration documents.  

Student Orientation

During the semester prior to the start of the program, the SIS Office of International Programs conducts a mandatory pre-departure meeting. Topics covered include administrative, logistical, security, health, and cross-cultural issues. RU also holds an orientation for students at the beginning of the semester.  

How to Apply

  1. Complete and submit the RU application to the SIS Office of International Programs (OIP) by the specified deadline for the semester in which you intend to study abroad. Applicants are required to submit a non-refundable $50 application fee. Payment details are included in the online application. Students may not apply directly to Ritsumeikan University.
  2. After all applications are received and reviewed, students will then be notified by e-mail from OIP with a decision regarding their nomination for study abroad.
  3. Once nominated, you will be instructed to complete the RU application which requires the following information:
    • Research proposal
    • Personal Statement
    • Pledge
    • Letter of recommendation from an SIS faculty member
    • Original transcripts
    • Copy of passport page
    • Health Certificate
    • Three passport-quality photos
  4. OIP will collect all paper applications and supplemental materials and mail them directly to RU.
  5. RU makes the final admissions decision and corresponds directly with Program participants regarding all admissions and enrollment matters.
The Program is competitive, and applying does not guarantee admission.

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Application Deadlines

Fall 2017: March 3, 2017

Spring 2018: Early Oct 2017 (TBD)

Apply Now!

Ritsumeikan Grad Exchange Application

Academic Advisor Approval Form

Global Cooperation Program Curriculum

course catalog

Learn More

Information about Japan

Read about Kyoto here and here.

Wikitravel explains the best ways to travel to Kyoto.

How to get your visa at the Embassy of Japan.

Information about language school in Japan.

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