Perhaps when thinking of studying in the prefecture of Okinawa in Japan, one might not expect this most southern prefecture of Japan to have universities, especially with English programs. But they actually do!

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Study in Okinawa Prefecture!

Where is Okinawa ?

The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa is located on the most southern part of Japan. To be more precise, it is located between Taiwan and the Japanese mainland in the East China Sea. The prefecture is made up of 150 islands and surprisingly has its own history.

Okinawa has its own distinct culture and history which is not related to Japan. Its culture and history heavily rooted in China. From the 15th century to the late 19th century, Okinawa was known as the Ryukyu kingdom, which had its own government and its own ruler.

The kingdom, in addition, had diplomatic and trade relations with China’s Imperial dynasties starting from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty. Due to its strong ties with Imperial China, the Tokugawa shogunate and the neighboring domains as a trading post. This resulted in the kingdom being a maritime trading power in Asia.

However, by the end of the Second World War, Okinawa was severely war damaged and became and still occupied some of the land to be used as the United States military base.

Even though it has a turbulent past, Okinawa is considered to be the Hawaii of Japan. It is a perfect destination for some who not only want to travel and enjoy the tropical-like surrounding but also to continue there higher education. Below are some of the main programs offered by the prefecture that are in English.

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST)

Located in the city of Onna, this private university focuses specifically in the fields of sciences and technology. Founded in 2011, the school’s education and research are all done in English and is a 5 year Ph.D. program.

The program has no department but is separated into “units”, which are based on the field of interest. Such fields to choose from are Neuroscience, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematical and Computational Sciences, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Environmental and Ecological Sciences and Marine Science to name a few. For more information, please check the website of OIST.

A scholarship is available under the JASSO program.

  • Graduate
    • Graduate School of Science and Technology
      • Major of Science and Technology

Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts


This public university, which is located in Naha, has both undergraduate and graduate programs. The Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, as by the name, specifically focuses on the arts, such as Fine Arts and Music.
This university is perfect for those who specifically want to understand Okinawan / Ryukyuan art culture. The following are in programs available in English.

  • Undergraduate
    • Faculty of Arts and Crafts
      • Department of Fine Arts
      • Department of Fine Arts
    • Faculty of Music
      • Department of Music
  • Graduate
    • Graduate School of Formative Arts (Master’s Program / 2 years)
      • Life Design Major
      • Environmental Design Major
      • Comparative Art Studies Major
    • Graduate School of Music Arts (Master’s Program / 2 years)
      • Theater Arts Major
      • Master’s Degree in Ryukyuan Classical Music
      • Master’s Degree in Ryukyuan Dance and Kumiodori
      • Music Performance Art Major
      • Master’s Degree in Vocal Music
      • Master’s Degree in Piano
      • Master’s Degree in Wind・Brass・Strings・Percussion
      • Musicology Major
      • Master’s Degree in Musicology
    • Graduate School of Cultural Arts Studies (Ph.D. Program)
      • Doctorate in Comparative Fine Arts
      • Doctorate in Ethnomusicology
      • Doctorate in Arts and Expression

Okinawa International University


Okinawa International University was founded in 1959 in the city of Ginowan. However, it was not an official university until it was chartered in 1972.
Although it only has a student population of near 6,000 students, this private university has a wide variety of subjects such as Okinawan / Ryukyuan regional studies, law, and economics.

  • Undergraduate
    • College of Law
      • Department of Law
      • Department of Regional Economics and Environmental Policy
    • College of Economics and Environmental Policy
      • Department of Economics
      • Department of Regional Economics and Environmental Policy
    • College of Industry and Information Science
      • Department of Business Administration
      • Department of Industry and Information Science
    • College of Global and Regional Culture
      • Department of Japanese Language and Culture
      • Department of British and American Language and Culture
      • Department of Society and Regional Culture
      • Department of Human Welfare Social Welfare
      • Department of Human Welfare Counseling
  • Graduate
    • Graduate School of Regional Culture
    • Graduate School of Regional Business and Economics
    • Graduate School of Law
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University of the Ryukyus

The University of the Ryukyus or Ryudai was founded after the Second World War. Located in the city of Ginowan, this public university has a total student population of around 8,000 people.

Although there are English programs available for most programs in both undergraduate and graduate, this university focuses more on short-term foreign exchange programs. It does have international student application, however, the university states that to contact them for further information about programs that future students that are interested in.

In addition to the application, the university recommends joining scholarship programs such as the Japanese government (MEXT) scholarship. This includes short-stay foreign exchange students as well.


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