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 Deans’ Office’s Online Williams Guide to Study Abroad 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. It also contains a current list of preapproved programs in Japan, and instructions for seeking approval of new programs.

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


Students in the Japanese Program have received transfer credit for the following programs in the past:

Associated Kyoto Program (AKP). AKP is a two-semester study abroad program hosted at Dôshisha University in Kyoto. Williams and fifteen 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, is considered to be the cultural capital of Japan. Many innovative courses are taught by American faculty visiting from colleges like Williams.

CIEE/Sophia University. This is a program that allows U.S. students to sit alongside Japanese students in over 150 curses taught in English in addition to attending intensive Japanese language training at Sophia University, one of the very prestigious universities in downtown Tokyo.

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. Most students participate for two semesters.

IES Programs in Nagoya. The Institute for International Education of Students sponsors several programs in Japan, including one at Nanzan University in Nagoya.

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 Dean’s Office. 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.

The online guide at the Dean’s office contains information about additional programs which have been pre-approved by the college for credit toward graduation, including some programs with no language prerequsite. However, at this point not all of these programs have been approved by the Japanese program for transfer credit toward the major or for placement in the Williams Japanese language track.

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 Coordinator of International Education Programs, Dean Laura McKeon, 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. For Asian Studies majors, four semesters are recommended, but two semesters may be acceptable with consent.