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Grad Semester Programs: Ritsumeikan University

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 Program Development 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 Program Development 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 student activity fee, sports center fee, or SIS fee while studying at Ritsumeikan. Students pay Ritsumeikan for the Academic Association of International Relations fee and the Autonomous Association of the Graduate Students fee.

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 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 Program Development 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

Application deadline for study in Spring 2015: TBD

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

  1. Complete and submit the SIS Graduate Semester Abroad Program at RU application to the SIS Office of International Program Development 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 graduate exchange students. The RU application process also includes submission of a letter of recommendation, official transcripts from all universities attended by the student, a certificate of health, a copy of the student's passport information page, a request form for visa information, and 5 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.

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Semester Abroad General Info Session


Application Deadline for study in Spring 2015



Academic Advisor Approval Form

Application Instructions & Checklist

Application Form

RU Course Syllabi

Choose your courses at RU

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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