Study Abroad in Japan

Japanese language students are strongly encouraged to consider study in Japan at some point in their Williams career–during one or both semesters of junior or senior year, or during the summer. Williams students have participated in a range of semester- and year-long programs in Japan. Students can participate in one of these pre-approved programs, or they can research and locate another program that fits their needs and apply to the Office of International Education and Study Away to have it approved for study abroad credit.

Students have received language credit for summer language courses in Japan or at intensive programs in the U.S.

These pages provides some basic information and a starting point. It is important that students interested in any of these options consult carefully with the department and the Office of International Education and Study Away starting at an early date, so that they can select a program tailored to their individual needs.

Grants and Fellowships to support Study Abroad in Japan

✻ AATJ (American Association of Teachers of Japanese)

The AATJ database on study in Japan includes listings of North American colleges and universities with study-abroad programs, universities in Japan with programs for foreign students, and independent study options. It also has information on scholarships, safety issues, and credit transferability.

✻ Boren

Boren Scholarships and Fellowships provide funding for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students studying in Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Boren Awards require rigorous language study and the majority of awardees spend a full academic year overseas. The Award stipend/benefit is up to $20,000 for the Boren Scholarship and $30,000 for the Boren Fellowship. In exchange for funding, Boren Award recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

✻ Bridging Scholarships

The Bridging Project offers scholarships to American undergraduate students participating in study-abroad programs in Japan. Bridging Scholarship recipients receive a stipend of $2,500 (for students on semester-long programs) or $4,000 (for students on academic year programs). Students studying in Japan on summer programs are not eligible to apply.

✻ Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully-funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. Over the course of an eight to ten week program, CLS covers approximately one academic year of university-level language coursework. CLS offers instruction in fourteen critical languages: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Swahili, Azerbaijani, Hindi, Bangla, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu.

✻ Freeman-Asia

Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) provides scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia. Freeman-ASIA accepts applications from U.S. citizens or permanent residents studying at the undergraduate level at a two-year or four-year college or university who demonstrate financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia.

✻ Blakemore Asian Language Fellowships

College Women’s Association of Japan – Undergraduate Scholarships for Non-Japanese Women — For non-Japanese women studying Japanese language, humanities and liberal arts.
CWAJ Scholarship NJW
Lion’s Garden Ikedayama #312
5-22-2 Higashi Gotanda
Tokyo 141 JAPAN

✻ Foundation for Asia Pacific Education

Linen Fellowships for Summer Study in Asia

Supported by an endowment established by family and friends in memory of James A. Linen III, Class of 1934, the Department of Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures offers a limited number of grants to assist Williams College undergraduates in traveling to Asia during the summer for educational purposes. For the purposes of these grants, “Asia” refers to South, Southeast, and East Asia, defined as those parts of the continent east of the Khyber Pass and south and east of the Tian Shan Mountains and the Gobi Desert.

The Linen Fellowships Selection Committee will give highest priority to funding proposals that contribute to developing a student’s scholarship in a serious and well-focused way. Proposals might include conducting research for an honor’s thesis; pursuing other kinds of independent research projects under the direction of a member of the Department of Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures faculty; or participating in an intensive language training program at the advanced or intermediate level. The application details will be posted in early February.

✻ More fellowships and grants are listed on AATJ site

Summer and Winter Study Abroad

Summer Programs

Summer programs can also be a good option for study abroad in Japan, or for study of Japanese language and culture in the U.S. In addition to language programs, there are culture programs, for example some that feature training in no or puppet theater. And there are also excellent summer language programs in the United States.

  • Culture and Performing Arts in Japan. Sponsored by the University of Massachusetts and Prof. Martin Holman, offers training in Japanese puppet theater near Kyoto.
  • Noh Theater Training Project in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

The following is the list of summer intensive language programs that Japanese language students participate every summer.

  • CJS Summer Japanese Program at Nanzan University. CJS is located in Nagoya, Japan and offers three different program options: an eight-week intensive Japanese language program, a combined four-week intensive Japanese language program and four-week internship program that includes work for two weeks at a local company, or a four-week intensive Japanese language program.
  • Hokkaido International Foundation. HIF is a non-profit organization that runs eight-week intensive Japanese language study programs with cross-cultural activities in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
  • Japan Center for Michigan University. The program is located on the shore of Lake Biwa in the City of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.
  • Middlebury College Language Schools
  • Princeton in Ishikawa. PII is an eight-week intensive Japanese language program in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Japan.
  • Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. KCJS is a consortium of 13 American universities and is located in Kyoto on the Imadegawa campus of Dôshisha University. They offer both summer intensive and semester programs and accept students from non-consortium universities.

As with semester- and year-abroad programs, students wishing to receive language study or course credit, or who are hoping to place in a higher language class as a result of their summer work should consult carefully with the Office of International Education and Study Away and program faculty before applying.

Currently, our department offers some financial assistance to students traveling to Asia during the summer, through the Linen Fellowships for Summer Study in Asia.

Winter Study in Japan

Students may apply to spend winter study in Japan by submitting a proposals for an independent winter study project (WSP 99) that involves travel to Japan.

A faculty member must sponsor the proposal, which is then reviewed and approved or rejected by the college’s winter study committee. The winter study committee judges proposals very rigorously, so it is important that the proposal describe an intellectually compelling project and make clear why it requires travel abroad.

Students considering this should carefully read the college’s guidelines for WSP 99s, on the Winter Study Program Website

Different departments and faculty have different requirements of their own for screening 99 proposals. Students who want to be sponsored for by Japanese faculty should prepare a draft version of the proposal that meets the requirements of the Winter Study Committee and submit it to the sponsor well in advance of the college’s deadline, to give time to revise and refine the proposal. Since the college deadline comes early in the fall, the student should ideally discuss the outlines of the project with the sponsor in the spring the previous year.

Japanese Study Abroad

Williams students have participated in a range of semester- and year-long programs in Japan, some of which are described below. Students can participate in one of these pre-approved programs, or they can research and locate another program that fits their needs and apply to the Dean’s office to have it approved for study abroad credit.

The Office of International Education and Study Away contains concrete information about spending a semester or year abroad, including detailed information about each stage of the approval process. Interested students should consult it carefully. You can find a current list of preapproved programs in Japan on the Program Options page–under Program Discovery, use the search term “Japan.”  If a program you are interested in is not listed on the Study Away website, you can contact the Study Away office regarding a petition process for other programs.

Majors and language students in the department should pay careful attention to the additional procedures listed under Department Requirements below.


Japanese language students who major in the department have received transfer credit for the following programs in the past:

  • Associated Kyoto Program (AKP). AKP is a consortium study abroad program hosted at Dôshisha University in Kyoto and offers a one-semester and a full-year program. Williams and twelve other liberal arts colleges administer the program, and one department faculty member serves on the board. Kyoto is located in the Kansai region, and, with its many cultural, historical, artistic, and architectural offerings, it is considered the cultural capital of Japan. Many innovative courses are taught by visiting faculty from consortium institutions and other American colleges.
  • Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies (Stanford Center). KCJS is a program in Kyoto administrated by Columbia University on behalf of a consortium of large research universities, though the program accepts applicants from all schools.
  • IES Programs in Nagoya. The Institute for International Education of Students sponsors several programs in Japan, including one at Nanzan University in Nagoya.
  • Japan Study at Waseda University. JSWU offers both a one-semester and full-year program in Tokyo. Features of this program include living with a Japanese family or in a dormitory, taking courses at Waseda University, participating in a cultural internship, and having access to over 800 student clubs.

Reviews of these programs are also available from former students. The college collects feedback on these programs from all students who participate, and students may view this file in the Office of International Education and Study Away. Students are also encouraged to consult the Alumni pages of this site for the names of former Williams students who participated in these programs, or who are studying abroad currently.

Important Department Requirements

Department majors and prospective majors, as well as those intending to continue in Japanese language classes after their return from abroad must discuss their study abroad plans with Japanese faculty in the department as well as with the Director of International Education and Study Away, Christina Stoiciu, before applying to specific programs, in order to ensure that major and language course credit will transfer from the foreign institution on their return. The college specifies that up to eight courses taken overseas can count toward graduation, and with department approval up to four courses may be counted toward the major. For Japanese majors, the department normally requires the completion of four semesters of Japanese language before semester-long study abroad.