To be announced in early summer 2021. Please note that there will be some changes to the procedures described below.


You must submit your application with all necessary documents between

November 1 and 20, 2020

Please make sure that you have read the JDTS APPLICATION FAQ before you apply for a place in the Joint Degree Master Program in Transcultural Studies or contact the JDTS coordination office (apply[a]

The following dates are all based on Japan Standard Time.

Admission Procedures (Revised)

Applications can only be submitted for the spring term of each year. Please follow the steps and submit the necessary documents listed below.
The admission process utilizes our online application system. Please register with the system and follow the on-screen instructions (available from October 2020).
For information about the selection process, please refer to the Admission Policy (English translation ) of the Graduate School of Letters.

Number of positions in the program: 5 students/year.

0. Admissions Assistance Office (AAO) Screening (Oct. 1-15, 2020)
(Applicants graduating from universities outside Japan) Indicate your intention to apply for an enrollment in April 2021 to the Admissions Assistance Office, AAO, no later than October 15, 2020. The office will check your eligibility for enrollment. If you are applying from outside of Japan, please contact the office as early as possible after registering with the online application system. Remember to send the indicated documents (see step 1 below) to the Graduate Student Affairs office until October 20. Please follow these guidelines for the AAO application.
You will receive the results of your degree equivalence screening by October 30.

1. Online Application Submission (Nov. 1-20. 2020)
Please register with the online application system (international applicants who passed the AAO screening can re-login and complete the application process).
Follow the on-screen guidance and complete the application form.
Print the completed form and submit it together with the following documents via postal mail to the Graduate Student Affairs office until November 20, 2020.

  • The signed application form [1].
  • Certified/official English translation or certified copy of the degree certificate of your B.A. (and M.A./M. Phil if applicable) [2].
  • Certified/official English translation or certified transcript of academic records of your B.A. (and M.A. / M. Phil if applicable) [3].
  • Certified copies of language certificates (English plus two additional languages) [4].
  • Formal statement confirming that you wrote the letter of motivation by yourself without the help of others and that you have properly indicated the use of all ideas from additional sources [8].

The following submission items need only be submitted online (do not send them via postal mail).

  • A photograph [5].
  • The “Evidence of Payment for Application Fees” [6].
  • A Certificate of Residence or copy of your passport (international students only) [7].
  • Letter of motivation  (in English; min. 800, max. 1.000 words) [8].
  • Two writing samples (e.g., your B.A. thesis or term papers) [9].
  • Indicate two referees who need to provide letters of recommendation (via the online application system) until November 25, 2020 [10].

You will be informed of the result of the first application step in early December. The first evaluation is based on your submitted documents, with a focus on your letter of motivation.

2. Interviews (Dec. 14-18, 2020)
Applicants who passed the first selection step will be asked to take part in interviews (using video-telephony). Please ensure that you are available during the indicated dates. Time zone differences will be taken into account as much as possible but we cannot guarantee you a specific slot.
The interviews focus on the applicant’s submitted writing samples, language capabilities and critical thinking. The interviews will be conducted in English but may include also questions in other languages depending on an applicant’s certified language proficiencies.

3. Results and Visa Preparations (Jan. 22, 2021)
You will be informed of the final selection result by January 22, 2021. International students will subsequently be advised on visa application procedures if they do not reside in Japan already. [11]

4. Enrollment Procedures and Fees (March, 2021)
At the end of February/beginning of March, you will receive your enrollment documents and student ID. During these procedures you will also be asked to pay admission and tuition fees. [12]

Student Affairs Submission Address
Please submit all required forms and documents to the Graduate Student Affairs Office of the Graduate School of Letters:

Kyoto University, Graduate School of Letters, Graduate Student Affairs Office (第二教務掛)
Yoshida honmachi, Sakyō-ku, Kyoto

Tel.: (+81) 075-753-2710


[1] You can download a sample application form here. Clearly fill out all required items, print and sign the form before sending it to Kyoto University. Once the application documents have been accepted, no revisions of the application can be made.

Personal Information and Disclosure to the Partner Institution
Your personal information (including grade information) will be used only for the purpose of admission selection, and, upon successful application, for the administration of your studies. By submitting your application documents and signing the application form, you also agree that your home institution (Kyoto University) may disclose your personal data, as provided by the application form and obtained by your home institution as a result of your enrollment, for the following purposes in accordance with the Act on the Protection of Personal Information Held by Administrative Agencies (Law No. 59 of 2003, Japan), the State Law of Baden-Württemberg on Higher Education (Landeshochschulgesetz, LHG), the Directive of the Ministry of Science on the Collection and Processing of University Applicants’ Personal Data for University Administrative Purposes (Hochschul-Datenschutzverordnung, HSchulDSV BW), the State Data Protection Act of Baden-Württemberg (Landesdatenschutzgesetz, LDSG), and the data protection policies of Kyoto and Heidelberg University:

(a) the processing of your application to the joint degree program; and 
(b) the administration of your enrollment at the partner institution, including the exchange of information regarding grades and credit points (provided your application is successful).

[2] [3] Applicants for the JD Transcultural Studies must fulfill any of the following two requirements by March 31, 2021:

  • Must have graduated from a Japanese university and hold a B.A. degree or equivalent (cf. provisions of Article 104, Paragraph 7 of the School Education Act) in a discipline of the humanities, cultural or social sciences with an above average grade. 
  • Must have graduated from an overseas university or an overseas institution located in Japan after at least 16 years of school education and hold a B.A. degree or equivalent in a discipline of the humanities, cultural or social sciences with an above average grade. Please see the information concerning the degree equivalence screening provided by the Admissions Assistance Office, AAO.

Students already enrolled at other universities or graduate schools after April 1, 2021 will not be admitted (no double enrollment; students in the Joint Degree Program will, however, be enrolled at a later date also at Heidelberg University). Furthermore, those who are employed by companies, public corporations/organizations, government offices, research institutes, etc., must submit a letter of consent from the relevant director at the time of the enrollment procedures to ensure that any other duties do not interfere with academic work. If you run a business or have a job, but you are not employed by a company, please submit a written pledge at the time of enrollment to dedicate yourself to studying.

Note on B.A. degree equivalence: The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) also recognizes as equivalent applicants who graduate from specialized courses at vocational schools or applicants who have only studied for three years at a university but have earned excellent grades (see provisions of Article 102, Paragraph 2 of the School Education Act). However, Joint Degree students will also have to enroll at the partner, Heidelberg University, where such achievements may not be recognized as equivalent. If you will not be able to submit a B.A. degree certificate conferred by a Japanese or overseas university, please contact the JDTS coordination office (apply[a] no later than October 15, 2020.

[4] Applicants need to prove very good proficiency in English, i.e., at least level C1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL), by means of either one of the following tests:

  • a minimum score of 90 in the internet-based TOEFL
  • a minimum score of 6.5 in the IELTS
  • a CAE – Grade C/ FCE – Grade A

Alternatively, a certificate from your university’s language department stating your proficiency level of at least C1 according to CEFRL will also be accepted.
Furthermore, good knowledge of two more languages (at least level B1 according to the CEFRL), including the respective mother tongue, is mandatory.
Language certificates should not be older than four years. A certificate for one’s first mother tongue is not required.

If your certified English language proficiency was below 100 TOEFL iBT (or 7.0 in the IELTS; or equivalent) upon enrollment in Kyoto, you must pass the course “Advanced Skills for Humanities Research in English” before you go to Heidelberg (or provide a certificate of proficiency of at least 100 iBT or equivalent).

[5] Submit a head-and-shoulders photograph of yourself (without head covering) taken no more than three months before the date of filing the application (photo size: 4 cm high x 3 cm wide).

[6] Make the payment of the application fee using the web form, and submit the “Evidence of Payment of Application Fees” via the online application system. Exam fee: JP¥30,000 (+JP¥650 handling), transfer period is between November 1 and 20, 2020.
After the application is accepted, the examination fee will not be refunded for any reason. Papers submitted for application will not be returned.

[7] An international student should submit a Certificate of Residence issued by the mayor of their city, ward, town or village of residence (or a scan of each side of their residence card) if they currently live in Japan. International students applying from abroad must submit a scan of their passport.

[8] The letter of motivation must convincingly explain the specific motivation to apply for the Joint Degree Master of Arts in Transcultural Studies based on the applicant’s thematic and regional areas of interest. How do your interests relate to the program’s contents and aims? What study focus (KBR, SEG, VMC) would you like to choose and why? In addition, the letter must detail the language proficiency and methodological qualifications of the applicant that will equip them for the program. How do you want to build on, and possibly expand, these qualifications in your studies? What do you seek to gain from studying at the respective partner, Heidelberg or Kyoto? Please make suggestions for possible supervisors (however, please refrain from contacting professors at this stage).

You need to submit a formal statement via postal mail confirming that you wrote the letter of motivation by yourself without the help of others and that you have properly acknowledged the use of all ideas from additional sources (e.g., via citations).

[9] If your B.A. thesis is not yet completed by the time of application, please submit a thesis abstract in addition to the two writing samples. Writing samples can be term papers (in English, Japanese, or German) you wrote during your undergraduate studies. Please submit as PDFs. Please provide samples of a total length of ca. 30-40 pages (ca. 12-15.000 words in a European language; ca. 20,000 characters in Japanese), up to a maximum of 60 pages. For further details, see the FAQ and the advice within the online application system.

[10] Please register the names and e-mail addresses of two referees (e.g., professors from your undergraduate studies). Once you register them, they will receive an automated message asking them to submit letters of recommendation. Please inform them well in advance that you would like them to act as your referees. The system will only accept institutional e-mail addresses.

Applications without such reference letters cannot be considered for this program.

[11] Directly after enrolling at Kyoto University, you will be asked to prepare also the enrollment process for Heidelberg University and the visa application for Germany (if necessary). For enrolling at Heidelberg University (regardless of study program, undergraduate or graduate studies), the law asks for the submission of a student’s university entrance qualification (“Hochschulzugangsberechtigung”, e.g. the high school diploma). For this purpose, please also prepare:

  • a copy of the high school graduation certificate, and
  • a transcript of academic records (high school)

Both documents must be in English or be accompanied by an uncertified English translation.

[12] Information on fees for 2021.

Admission fee: ¥282,000
Tuition fee: ¥267,900 for one semester (¥535,800 per year)

The admission fee and the tuition fee are estimated amounts, and may be subject to change.
In case of changes at the time of enrollment or during enrollment, the new admission fee and the new tuition fee will be applied.
On successful application, you will receive also information about possibilities for the exemption and deferral of fees. For more information, please see the central webpages of Kyoto University (EN | JP).
You will not have to pay tuition fees to Heidelberg University during your stay in Germany.

For further information please refer to the JDTS APPLICATION FAQ!