The Program

The JD Transcultural Studies is a research-oriented program, which aims at preparing students for a future career in academia. Students should also have a keen research interest in the regions of Europe and Asia. As such, the JD Transcultural Studies relies heavily on theory-driven work and only to a very limited extend on applied and/or practical sciences. For almost all courses, students are required to give oral presentations, write term papers and prepare extensive reading materials before class.

What this program is not about:

In order to avoid misunderstandings or failed expectations, we would like to clearly state that the Joint Degree Master Program in Transcultural Studies is not concerned with studies in Intercultural Communication, International Relations and Diplomacy, all aspects of applied economics (such as banking, marketing, management and business administration), and interpreting.

The study plan for the JDTS stipulates two years of studies (i.e., four semesters), in which students have to earn a total of at least 30 credits.

In Kyoto, the JDTS only starts each spring term. You cannot begin your studies during the fall term.

No. The JDTS is a full-time study program (app. 40 hrs. of work per week), so part-time studies (including auditing, 大学院聴講生) are not possible.

No. The JDTS only accepts full-time students who are working towards a diploma (the joint degree). If you study as a special auditor (特別聴講学生)  in another major at the Graduate School of Letters, however, you may take courses in the CATS program.

No. The JD Transcultural Studies is a 100% major program.

For a complete list of course currently taught within the JDTS you can consult the universities’ online information systems (KULASIS in Kyoto, LSF in Heidelberg) and access a syllabus here.

Yes. If Kyoto University is your home institution, you must pay regular tuition fees. However, you do not have to pay any second-degree or international student tuition fees at Heidelberg University. Still, an administrative fee is imposed in Heidelberg of currently 151.05 Euros per semester.

Unfortunately, the JDTS cannot offer students scholarships for their time in Kyoto. However, the coordination office will assist you in acquiring a scholarship for your stay in Germany (e.g., via JASSO).
If you consider a MEXT scholarship, please be aware that you cannot enroll as a research student in the JDTS (see FAQ No. 5 above). Since 2021, MEXT scholarship holders are eligible to enroll in the JDTS. However, under MEXT scholarship rules the scholarship payments will be suspended during the time in Germany. Thus, if you came as a research student enrolled in another major and then transition to the JDTS upon successful application, you will only receive your scholarship during the time in Kyoto. For Germany, the coordination office will assist with financing as stated above.
Please also consult the university’s webpage about scholarships here.

Admission Requirements and Application

Generally, if you hold an above-average B.A. degree from a relevant discipline of the humanities, cultural or social sciences and fulfill our formal admission and language requirements (see below for details) you can apply for a place in the JDTS.

Our terms and regulations of admission require candidates to hold a B.A. degree in a discipline of the humanities, cultural or social sciences. However, our program is a research-oriented master, which means that your B.A. degree had to be research-oriented as well. Degrees in applied sciences like Business Administration, Management, Marketing, Communication etc. generally do not qualify as relevant degrees for our program.

Please refer to our website for a detailed list of admission requirements.

There are several online calculators available that give you an estimate of what the GPA in your country’s system would be in the German system. Please note that such calculations are not always correct, and their results are not legally binding. Thus, even if you calculated an above-average GPA, the Heidelberg University Admissions Office may come to a different result and makes the final decision.

Please prepare all the documents listed on our website and register with the application platform from October 1 to apply for a degree equivalence screening via the Admission Assistance Office (AAO). Some documents and the application form have to be submitted by postal mail (see address below, FAQ 16). The other documents, such as your motivation letter, need to be submitted online only.

Please prepare all the documents listed on our website and register with the application platform from October 1 to apply for a degree equivalence screening via the Admission Assistance Office (AAO). Some documents and the application form have to be submitted by postal mail (see address below, FAQ 16). The other documents, such as your motivation letter, need to be submitted online only.

Please refer to our website for a list of required documents.
IMPORTANT NOTE: All official documents, such as degree or language certificates, have to be translated into English if they are in another language!

Please send your documents to

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to send your application at the right time! Applications arriving before or after the respective time windows will be automatically rejected!

RECOMMENDATION: Send an email with a scan/photo of the postal receipt (with the tracking number and send date clearly visible) and a PDF of the AAO notification to apply@cats.bun.kyoto-u.ac.jp.

If you have not yet finished your degree or have not yet received your final diploma [2], you have to provide an official letter from your program coordinator, stating your current average grade and affirming that you are expected to finish your studies by the beginning of the spring term in Kyoto (keep in mind that you will have to present your final diploma upon enrollment at Kyoto University).

You do not have to prove your English language proficiency if a) English is your mother tongue or b) you have earned your B.A. degree from a university in an English-speaking country. In all other cases, you have to provide one of the certificates listed on our website.

Please note that we cannot accept MyBest scores as proof of language proficiency. However, in case the TOEFL iBT certificate of your last test is not yet ready at the time of the AAO pre-screening (Oct. 1-15), we allow the submission of MyBest scores as preliminary proof. If you pass the AAO screening but submitted only MyBest scores, please submit the official TOEFL iBT certificate (of your last test; score of 90 or above) with the other required documents during the main selection phase (Nov. 1-20).

Keep in mind that your mother tongue is counted as one of the additional two languages (unless it is English) and you do not have to provide proof for it.

Official language tests are the easiest way to prove your proficiency level of at least B1 according to CEFR (e.g. TestDaf for German, DELF/DALF for French, HSK for Chinese, JLPT for Japanese, TOPIK II for Korean). Please consult with us in advance if your particular test does not specify a CEFR level and you do not find any documentation regarding test score and CEFR equivalence.* We also accept certificates from respective language departments of your university or proof through your transcript in case language studies were part of your BA program (language courses have to amount to 20% of your BA). Under certain circumstances, your High School diploma can also be accepted as proof (especially, if the language of instruction was not your mother tongue).

IMPORTANT NOTE: We do not accept language certificates that are older than four years!

Applicants have to provide a certificate for at least one of the additional languages.

This means that you cannot include simple copies in your application package. All copies have to be officially sealed/stamped/signed by the competent authority of your country in order to proof that they are in accordance with the original documents.

Please inform yourself about the official regulations for certifying/notarizing documents in your respective country!

In the application process, you will be asked to provide the names and contact information of two academic referees. You do not submit their letters of reference directly but they will be contacted to send us such letters. Please inform potential referees in advance if you intent to list them in your application.

If you cannot provide term papers in English, German, or Japanese as your writing samples, you may submit English translations of term papers in other languages. In such a case, please include the original text in addition to the translation (done by yourself) in one single PDF per sample. You are also free to submit other writing samples, for example, a published journal article.
Length: Please provide two 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 (excluding references). If you combine samples of different languages, use the given word or character numbers as guidelines for overall length (e.g., one sample of 10,000 Japanese characters equals half the estimate above, so that a second sample in English should be ca. 6-7,500 words). If your first sample is your B.A. thesis, you may already cover the minimum length with this one sample. In such a case, there is no need to provide a second sample (instead of a second sample, just upload a statement saying that your first sample already covers the required total length).

No. The application process involves the selection of possible supervisors based on submitted research interests. Thus, please refrain from contacting professors about your thesis ideas. Instead, please familiarize yourself with the work and expertise of our professors and explain in your letter of motivation who you suggest to supervise your topic and why. Your main supervisors will be one professor from Kyoto and one from Heidelberg.* Still, once enrolled in the program, you can seek additional advice from other professors outside the division in Kyoto/the HCTS in Heidelberg. We will guide you in this regard during the later stages of your studies.

* Please note that some professors will not be able to supervise students who enroll after April 2024.

Be advised that your chances of success are minimal to non-existent if you do not fulfill our formal admission requirements. However, you can always apply even if you do not fulfill all the requirements.

See the official application time frame dates in October/November here (take into consideration the shipping duration of your respective postal services). Be aware that earlier submissions are not possible.

The application process does not include a written or oral exam at the university but an interview via video-telephony. The first screening of applicants considers their motivation letters and writing samples. Applicants who have passed this first step are invited to interviews.

Yes. Applicants who have passed the first screening of their documents are invited to an interview via video-telephony in December.

The interviews are scheduled for mid-to-late December and are conducted online via video-telephony. Please ensure that you are available during the dates indicated on your interview invitation. Time zone differences will be taken into account as much as possible but we cannot guarantee you a specific slot.

After the Application

The online application system gives you the current status of your application. The Graduate Student Affairs Office does not send out confirmations upon receipt of documents. Please also note that the JDTS coordination office cannot provide you with that information. If you want to make sure your documents have reached Kyoto University, you should choose a posting method with which you can track your shipment.

You will be notified in early December if you are shortlisted for interviews or not. If you had been invited for an interview, you will be informed of the final selection result by January 22, 2023. Only if you have not received your result by January 28, 2023, you may enquire via telephone at +81-75-753-2710. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The JDTS coordination office cannot answer any questions pertaining to individual applications until all decisions have been finalized by the admission board!

Official letters of admission or rejection are sent out by the Graduate Student Affairs Office by post in mid-February. Please be aware that only this official letter of admission is the legally relevant document, entitling you to enroll at Kyoto University.

We expect applicants to seek enrollment for the year they apply. If you expect to be unable to enroll in a given year, we ask you to apply in the following year instead. Please be aware that last-minute postponement may cause problems.

* Note: Some language tests, such as the JLPT, do not include speaking or writing, and thus make it difficult to compare their results to the CEFR. In case of the JLPT, N3-N2 may be accepted as B1, N2 (test score of 165 or above) and N1 as B2 (based on a study by the Japan Foundation). We do not accept tests without speaking or writing as equivalent to C1 or C2. Especially if you consider ethnographic research involving interviews in the particular foreign language, choose a test that involves speaking and writing. If no such test is available for the particular language, consider being tested at your current university in accordance with the DAAD language certificate (“Sprachzeugnis”).