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Undergraduate Semester Programs

Ritsumeikan University

The College of International Relations (CIR), established in 1988 at Ritsumeikan University (RU), offers the Study in Kyoto Program (SKP), a non-degree study abroad experience that offers students a wide variety of language, cultural, and academic courses in the ancient capital city of Kyoto, Japan. RU prides itself on being one of the most internationally-oriented universities in Japan, making it no surprise that the SKP attracts students from every corner of the globe. Students who participate in the SKP through SIS will improve their Japanese language, learn more about Japanese culture, and meet people from all over the world.


Undergraduate students from AU who participate in this spring-semester or full-year program enroll in 12-17 credits per semester. Students enroll one of three program tracks as detailed below:

  • Intensive Japanese Language (IJL): Open to all students who are interested specifically in intensive language studies. Students take 9 hours of Japanese language coursework per week in addition to English-language electives offered through the Japan and World Perspectives (JWP) track.
  • Japan and World Perspectives (JWP): Open to all students. Students take English-language courses on various international relations topics and may enroll in a beginning  Japanese language class.
  • Business: For students with a background in business but little or no experience with the Japanese language. Students take courses taught in English by the College of Business Administration. 

Students in the Program also have the opportunity to enroll in a Japanese Traditional Arts class.

Language Requirement

Proficiency in Japanese is not required. However, it is recommended that students study the language before going to Japan in order to gain communication skills for daily life in Kyoto.

Academic Calendar

Spring (first semester): April – July

Fall (second semester): September – March

Students can enroll in the Program for a full year (fall and spring) or for the spring semester only.


  1. Students are required to meet with their AU academic advisor and obtain formal pre-approval for RU courses before enrolling at RU. This ensures that all credits earned on the Program can be applied toward the student's AU degree.
  2. Once accepted into the Program, students are registered through the SIS Office of International Programs for 15 AU-RU exchange credits (SIS-461). Students who wish to take fewer (12-14) or more than (up to 17) 15 credits need to arrange this with their academic advisor before they can be registered for the AU exchange credits.
  3. Students register for RU courses once they arrive in Kyoto.

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 AU room/board fees (if applicable) while studying at RU. Students are billed by RU for housing (if applicable), supporting fee, and Japanese Traditional Arts classes (if applicable).  

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.


Accommodation during the Program can be arranged through the International Center at RU's Kinugasa Campus. Housing options include two dorms called International House I and International House II. Students are billed directly by RU for housing.

Visas and Immigration

Once admitted to the Program, students are issued a Certificate of Eligibility by RU. Students then need to take this document, with a valid passport and completed visa application, to the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate 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 holds a mandatory orientation at the beginning of each semester. 

How to Apply

Students who wish to participate in this program must first submit an internal SIS application to the SIS Office of International Programs. Students may not submit any applications or documents to RU until after they have received instructions from SIS.

  1. Complete and submit the SIS Undergraduate Semester Abroad Program at RU application to the SIS Office of International Programs by the application deadline. Do not apply directly to RU.
  2. After applications are processed and reviewed, students are selected for nomination to RU.
  3. Upon nomination, students must complete and submit the RU application for exchange students. The RU application process also includes submission of a personal statement in Japanese (for the IJL track), a letter of recommendation, a statement of Japanese proficiency from a language instructor (for the IJL track), a statement of financial support and supporting financial documents, a JASSO or RUSSES scholarship application if applicable, certificate of enrollment at AU, official transcripts from all universities attended by the student, a certificate of health, a copy of the student's passport information page, and 4 photographs.
  4. RU makes the final admissions decision and corresponds directly with Program participants regarding course registration, accommodation, orientation programs, etc.

    The Program is competitive, and applying does not guarantee admission.

Contact Us!

Email: sisabroad@american.edu

Twitter: SISStudyAbroad

Application Deadlines

Academic Year 2016-17: TBD

Spring 2017: TBD 

Due to the difference between the RU and AU fall semester dates, AU students may study abroad for the academic year beginning in the fall or for the spring semester only.

Apply Now!

Ritsumeikan UG Exchange Application

Additional Information

Study in Kyoto Program brochure

Read about Kyoto here and here

Travel information for Kyoto from Lonely Planet and Wikitravel

Japan Country Information Sheet from the U.S. Department of State

Information on how to get your visa at the Embassy of Japan