Exchange Program / Study Abroad Program

Furthering the Liberal Arts

Through agreements concluded with 75 universities in 25 countries/regions (as of February, 2020), ICU students can study for one year at our partner institutions. Under the same agreements, ICU also accepts students from those universities to study at ICU. Approximately 150 places available for study abroad and ICU expects that around one in four students will take part in the program.

Fruitful study abroad involves taking the same classes in specialized subjects as local university students, and for that reason it is necessary to have the appropriate level of English proficiency. Consequently, the usual procedure for students is to apply themselves properly to the English Liberal Arts (ELA) program until their second year and commence their study abroad in the autumn semester of their third year.

Students taking part in this exchange program remain enrolled at ICU while they study at the overseas university for one year (three ICU terms). As a general rule, students pay regular ICU tuition fees but are exempt from fees at the university abroad.

Other expenses are borne by the student, and the costs required for such studies vary with the particular destination. Credits earned at such institutions, a maximum of 40 credits, are recognized as part of the credit unit requirements for graduation from ICU. As a result, it is possible to study abroad and still graduate within four years.


Steps towards studying abroad

Students polish their practical English skills in the English for Liberal Arts (ELA) program in their first and second years and acquire the basic knowledge required for taking specialized subjects offered in English. After deepening the knowledge in their areas of specialization during overseas studies, the students prepare their senior thesis as the compilation of the knowledge and creative thinking they have acquired and cultivated in the four years.

Schedule of Exchange Program / Study Abroad Program (schedule varies depending on the university)


Exchange / Study Abroad Programs' Expences

In addition to tuition and facilities fees, expenses of studying abroad borne by the student include travel expenses, housing, and fees for using the facilities of the partner university, purchasing overseas travel insurance specified by ICU, insurance premium specified by host university (depending on the university), various expenses associated with obtaining visa, living expenses (food, local commuting expenses, entertainment and so on) and personal travel expenses.

Approximate expenses: 600,000 yen to two million yen (varies depending on travel or housing expenses, etc.)

Tuition fees and facilities fees while studying abroad

  • Students participating in the exchange program and ACUCA program pay regular tuition and facilities fees to ICU and as a rule are exempted from payment of tuition fees at the host institutions, with some exceptions
  • Students participating in Study Abroad Program through CIEE and IES programs need to be responsible for the programfees including local tuition fees and housing, etc. ICU's tuition and facilities fees for the corresponding term will be paid as scholarship, thus offering exemption to the students.


AY 2018-2019 Exchange Program Participant: Takamasa Hirokawa
Location: The University of Edinburgh (U.K.)

In Edinburgh, I had a very fulfilling life, and I achieved my main goal, which was to develop my Middle Eastern studies. I completed all the courses that I wanted to take at the University of Edinburgh. I enjoyed every class and had a wonderful university life with my personal tutor, enthusiastic professors, and fun and excellent companions.

If you have a wish to study abroad, even just a little, and if you are hesitating to go because you are not confident enough in your English, you don't need to worry about it at all. A person like me who has an awareness of not being good at English can not only go abroad to study at universities of the English environment but also complete senior courses and receive good grades if you work hard.

While studying abroad, I studied the most in my life. The essays that I wrote painstakingly but with great effort were able to receive satisfactory evaluations. And I did not have any hard time in class discussion only if I prepared enough. The knowledge that I gained through the lectures and readings, the discussions with the tutor, what I worried and thought about while working on my essays, and the connections with professors and friends made in Edinburgh --- all of those, I am sure, will continuously serve as my powerful weapons.

AY 2017-2018 Exchange Program Participant: Takeshi Yamamoto
Location: Maastricht University (Netherlands)

I had studied abroad for approximately one year in the United States when I was a second-year high school student and had taken part in a summer school in the United States in the summer of my second year at university. However, I decided to take on the challenge of participating in ICU's exchange program -- there are not many universities that offer exchange or study abroad programs as extensively as ICU and I would rather regret doing something than not doing something. As it turned out, this became a new experience different from my previous two experiences of studying abroad and I am satisfied with my decision.

At Maastricht University, classes are conducted in a unique style called problem-based learning (PBL), the hallmark of which, in a nutshell, is that "students conduct classes." Class sizes are small with around 15 students per class, and students take it in turns to conduct a two-hour class in groups of two or three. Students do not simply give presentations. In addition to preparing the slides by themselves, they create videos and articles and conduct games as necessary. As a general rule, instructors only participate in class when they have something to add.

At first, I found this class environment extremely challenging and struggled. To tackle this, I decided to firstly consider what the things that only I can do are and to work on the tasks immediately at hand with full dedication. In concrete terms, by sharing business cases in Japan and things that I feel because I am a Japanese person, I was able to gradually become confident in myself and ultimately became able to fully participate in class.

Prior to participating in this exchange program, I tended to listen to what others say and did not share my opinions very much. However, during my time studying abroad, I felt keenly that I cannot get anything across and there is no point in me being there at discussions if I persist with this attitude. In addition to having been able to acquire specialist business knowledge, the thing that has had the greatest influence on me in this study abroad experience was this change of attitude. Since I have become mature in this way, I believe that this study abroad experience was truly meaningful.

AY2016-2017 Exchange Program Participant: Yuriko Nakamaru
Location: University of California, Berkeley (USA)

In terms of studying, not only was I able to acquire new knowledge, but I was also able to improve the way I study as well as to develop my time management skills. For the students around me, studying all day long was usual, and in the library in my student residence hall, which was open 24 hours a day, there were always students no matter what time of day; therefore, the environment was optimal for studying. The professors at the Berkeley campus gave me the opportunity to meet with them outside class hours to discuss not only things that were covered in the courses but also my future career and vision.

Before studying abroad, I was worried because I would be living in a student residence and living apart from family for the first time. Therefore, it was definitely good that I chose International House, a student residence with a strong mission of promoting intercultural understanding and exchange. Living with not only local American students but also students from over 60 other countries, I felt that everyone was eager to get to know one another and each day was very exciting. On the other hand, there were also events where I felt that walls exist between countries or that things were unfair. I feel that everything, including this, was a learning experience that could only be gained through studying abroad.

By studying abroad in the United States, I have become able to notice the good things about Japan more than before. At the same time, my feeling of wanting to go out into the world more has become stronger. To fulfill this hope, I would like to be a person who is always open to listening to what others have to say, is open-minded, and is a person with a keen sense of inquiry. During my time studying abroad, I met a person whom I cherish and hope will continue to occupy an important part of my life -- studying abroad was the most important thing that I did in my university life.


AY2015‒2016 exchange program participant: Yoko Ono
Location:The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China)

Studying abroad as part of the exchange program has turned out to be an invaluable experience in my life. I gained three things from this experience.

The first point is that my understanding of China deepened through classes. Although my study abroad destination was in the University of Hong Kong, all classes except for the Chinese language courses were taught in English. About 50% of the marketing class comprised of Hong Kongers and Chinese, with the rest made up of foreign students including those from the U.S. and Europe. We together carried out case studies of various companies including McDonald's, KFC, Haier and Huawei regarding the Chinese strategies of foreign-capital companies as well as the overseas strategies of Chinese companies. That class, with the students discussing the companies in various countries in the world mixed with the voices of the local students, I believe, was a valuable experience you can have only when you are studying abroad.

The second point is that I was able to study with friends with diverse background from countries around the world. We talked about various things―what young people in my age group around the world are thinking, which paths they are going to pursue and what images they have about their own countries and Japan―and it deepened our mutual understanding.

The third point is that I was able to give shape to my goal through the experience of studying abroad. As I have described, I was inspired so much as I interacted with students in my age group from around the world, and those who were especially inspiring me were friends from Asian countries. I felt the friends around me were far superior to me and was impressed by the amount of effort they have put in. These experiences made me want to become a Japanese who can prove her mettle on the global stage in the future.

The world is way bigger than I had thought and society is made up of the various passions of various people. The exchange program made me realize this obvious fact, and I faced myself and was able to think about my future. I believe that my experience is attributable to the fact that I studied in Hong Kong, a major city in Asia, instead of an English-speaking country, so I hope those of you who are considering studying abroad to look into studying in a non-English-speaking country as well.


AY2014-2015: Exchange Program Participant: Aiko Saito
Location: The University of Sheffield (U.K.)

The University of Sheffield is a famous university in the U.K. and attracts excellent students from all over the world. Particularly, many of students from European countries speak English whose level is not inferior to that of native English speakers and actively attended seminars. Seeing them like that, I was often disappointed in myself. Despite that, I managed to go to university to take the class every day, thanks to lively lectures given by professors and comfortable learning environment. Owing to such supports, I was able to make the learning experience at the University of Sheffield more fulfilling without giving it up halfway through. Moreover, I often heard other students saying "Give it a go!" or "Get involved!". They take challenges or give it a try anyway and think what to do later if they fail and thus their actions are simple but bold. There were many things I have learned from them and I have got to try to challenge new things without hesitation.

Looking back now, approximately one year I spent at the University of Sheffield seemed the longest year of my life. There are many things, such as English skills, expenses and job hunting, that you have to consider in planning of the study abroad. I can fully understand your hesitation; however, I personally recommend you to challenge studying abroad if circumstances permit.

ICU has exchange agreements with many universities from all over the world and accordingly students at ICU have more opportunities of studying abroad than students of other universities. Therefore, I hope you can take advantage of such opportunities to make your campus life worthwhile and fulfilling.

Other Voices


Q What is the difference between Exchange Program and Study Abroad Program?

Exchange Program is a program under which students from ICU study at a foreign university and students from foreign universities study at ICU based on agreements ICU has concluded with various foreign universities. Students taking part in this exchange program remain enrolled at ICU while they study at the partner universities for one year (three ICU terms). On the other hand, Study Abroad is a program that enables students to study abroad, at universities in countries and regions where ICU does not have individual agreements, under a curriculum implemented by non-profit educational institutions headquartered in the U.S. in collaboration with universities and institutions of higher education around the world.

Currently, ICU students can participate in 20 programs in 17 countries through the Study Abroad Programs of Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Institute for the International Education of Students (IES). Similar to the Exchange Program, credits earned in the Study Abroad Program can be recognized as ICU credits upon assessment after the student returns, and therefore it is possible to study abroad and still graduate in four years. It, however, differs from the Exchange Program in the sense that the student bears the participation fee of CIEE / IES, while being exempted from the tuition and facilities fees of ICU.

Q Is it possible to study abroad at universities with which ICU does not have agreements?

Yes. ICU, in fact, offers diverse opportunities for overseas studies at universities other than those with which it has agreements. In addition to the Study Abroad Program explained earlier, it is also possible to study abroad through the Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia(ACUCA)*1and Middlebury C.V. Starr*2. Also, using the "study abroad on a Private Basis" system, a student can study at a university/country of his/her choice for one year as long as the destination is approved by ICU in advance. Credits earned at such institutions, a maximum of 40 credits, are recognized, similar to International Exchange Program, as part of the credit unit requirements for graduation from ICU upon assessment after the student returns. All the expenses for the overseas study are borne by the student, who should also pay Non-Resident Fee (30,000 yen per term) to ICU.

*1 Studying abroad through Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA) - 14 universities in 5 countries.

Established for mutual cooperation of Christian higher education institutions in Asia, the Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA) counts more than 50 universities and colleges as its members in the eight countries and regions of India, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. Among the ACUCA member institutions, ICU students are entitled to study at 14 universities in five countries for mainly one term in autumn through the Student Mobility Scheme.

*2 Middlebury C.V. Starr - 6 universities in 3 countries.

This program enables students to study based at University of Oxford (United Kingdom) , University of Delhi (India), or 1 place among 3 universities in Italy through agreement with Middlebury College which has emerged as one of a handful of the most highly regarded liberal arts colleges. ICU students deepen their knowledge of their fields of specialization in the United Kingdom, India, or Italy with students from universities in the United States such as Middlebury College students.

Q What kind of preparations should I do for studying abroad?

Why do you want to study abroad? What do you want to achieve by studying abroad? It is very important that you have a clear goal for studying abroad and find a program that suits your purpose. Research well the options available for studying abroad and think carefully of your goal and target for overseas study. Most of the study abroad programs require strict review of your academic performance at ICU and language skills (TOEFL and IELTS test scores) in the screening process. For this reason, you are encouraged to enhance your English skills required at the university through English for Liberal Arts (ELA) program at ICU, interactions with foreign students on campus and taking English courses offered by ICU. At overseas universities, you will receive numerous questions regarding Japan from the perspectives of Japanese culture, society, politics and economy as a representative of Japan. It is equally important to deepen your knowledge of Japan when preparing for studying abroad.

Q How does studying abroad affect job prospects?

The experience of studying abroad during university days has various positive impacts on a student's future career prospects including job hunting activities. During your overseas studies, it is important that you focus on the goal which you set forth before leaving Japan, take part in activities offered only at the university abroad and interact with other students and faculty to enhance your daily campus life. While doing so, you may collect the latest information regarding the job market when you find enough time. If you wish to seek job opportunities in Japan, you may swiftly come back to Japan once the overseas study program ends.



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