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JAPAN - ISEP Nihon University - Mishima

Nihon University (Mishima campus) offers students the opportunity to study Japanese from intermediate to advanced levels. Although language classes are not intensive—usually held twice a week—students will be able to experience the life and culture of Japan away from the crowds of the city. Regular courses are taught in Japanese and English across the International Studies and International Liberal Arts departments. English options include an expansive Japan Studies course, while other offerings cover Social Science, Humanities, Economics, and Business from a global perspective.

This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.

Learn more about Nihon University here.

Experiences of Former Students


“Nihon University at Mishima is a place that allowed me to experience true Japanese life and culture while being conveniently close to the world’s biggest metropolis, Tokyo. I couldn’t have been more pleased with what I got from Nihon University. What truly stood out the most was the individual teaching assistant system. Overall, this has been the most fulfilling experience of my life, and I am very thankful with Nihon University for opening their doors to me.” –Mauricio Mejia Regiomontana University, Mexico

“If you’re an independent sort of person, you will do very well here. Don’t rely on the school to make your experience enjoyable. You’re in a perfect area to explore most of Japan and Mishima is an extremely beautiful place, so get out there and seize the day!” –Samson Condon, Iowa State University

To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0.  
  • Language Requirement: 2 semesters of Japanese language study is required with passing grades or equivalent level of proficiency. Advanced level students can take content courses offered for native Japanese students, but in this case, the equivalent of JLPT N1 level language proficiency is required, as demonstrated by a placement test.
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in application, even if native speaker.
  • Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).

To the east of Shizuoka Prefecture, the Nihon-Mishima campus is located in clear sight of Mt. Fuji and at the base of the Izu Peninsula which is famous for its hot spring resorts. Including a popular shrine, Mishima is a historical town, one of the key waystations for travelers on the ancient Tokaido Road from Edo to Kyoto that today is just an hour west from Tokyo. This modern university campus, home to some of the friendliest students in Japan, is a short walk from the train station. Recently opened in 2012, a major new building serves as a second convenient site right by the Shinkansen (hi-speed train) terminal.


Nihon University is the largest university in Japan and was established in 1889 as Nihon Law School by the Minister of Justice, Akiyoshi Yamada. The College of International Relations was founded in 1979 as Japan’s first college that provided education in this field. Nihon is one of Japan’s distinguished private universities with the motto, “the spirit of independent creativity,” as the principle and goal of university education. 

Regular courses are taught in Japanese and English across the International Studies and International Liberal Arts departments. English options include an expansive Japan Studies course, while other offerings cover Social Science, Humanities, Economics, and Business from a global perspective.

Students typically enroll in 6-7 classes per term, which averages to 10-12 hours in class per week. A term runs for 16 weeks. 

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.


Most regular academic courses are taught in Japanese. Two departments: International Studies and International Liberal Arts. Courses typically available in the following fields, all with an international emphasis: Business, Cultural Studies, Economics, Law, Politics, Sociology.

The English curriculum is geared towards Japanese students who want to develop their skills of class participation in English and/or those who plan to study abroad in the future, but they are also open to international students.

Previous English Course Options: International Relations/Introduction to International Relations, Intercultural Relations/Introduction to Intercultural Relations, Sociology, World’s religions, Japanese Literature (Comparative Literature and Comparative Culture), Japanese Traditional Culture, Japanese Society, Japanese Cultural History, Management/Introduction to Management, Asian Economic Development, Art and Society.

Japanese Language Courses: Students will be placed at appropriate levels of Japanese language courses based on the result of a placement test and an interview. There are basically two kinds of courses for each level; one with more emphasis on basic aspects of learning Japanese such as grammar/patterns, oral communication, and listening and reading comprehension, and another course with more emphasis on synthesized study through presentations, discussions, and writing, along with answering questions to review or learn expressions and grammar/patterns. Contact hours per course/week: 90 minutes x 2.


Course selection may vary each term depending on student interest for English courses and Japanese levels of enrolled students for language courses. Please note that flexibility in English course options is essential.

For courses in English, click here.

Course Syllabi


Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Student Life


Students participate in a full day of orientation before the semester begins where they cover topics including:

  • Alien Registration / National Health Insurance / National Pension and Exemption
  • Immigration Policy / Re-entry Permission / Permission for Part-time Job
  • Emergency Contact Information / Earthquake Awareness
  • Dormitory Policies (Rules, equipment rental, etc.)
  • Japanese language placement test
  • Course Registration
  • Student ID Registration
  • Campus Tour
  • Welcome Party and Meeting with Buddies
  • Optional Activities Information


Airport pick-up is not available. Host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.


College Activities

  • New Student Introduction and Language Exchange Activity (Fall/Spring)
  • Welcome BBQ (Fall/Spring)
  • Japanese Day (Fall/Spring) - Students experience wearing the yukata and practice the art of Japanese flower arrangement, tea ceremony, and calligraphy (Note: in the fall, these activities may be offered on different days)
  • College Cultural Festival or Fuohsai (Fall) - Fuohsai is the biggest college event held in October or November. In the past, exchange students have participated in activities including band concerts, Japanese cultural club performances, and mogiten (food stalls)

Local Events

  • Mishima Grand Shrine Otauchi Festival (January)
  • Japanese Traditional Festival events around Shizuoka Prefecture (summer fireworks festivals, the “Yosakoi Dance Festival”, “Fujinomiya Autumn Festival”, etc.)
  • International Fair in Mishima (November)
  • “Daido-gei” World Cup in Shizuoka (November)

There are also a number of clubs and circles at Nihon University College of International Relations where students warmly welcome the participation of international students. Students can participate in clubs such as soccer, outdoor activities, American football, badminton, photography, and music.

Housing and Meals

Students are housed in off-campus apartment complexes managed by the university, located within walking distance from campus. The apartments house both international and Japanese students. International students have their own furnished room complete with a bed, a mini-kitchen including utensils, a rice cooker, and a microwave oven. The room is furnished with linens, a desk, air conditioner, and restroom with a shower and bath. The room is also equipped with Internet access. Students can rent a TV and a washing machine at an optional cost. Students can watch cable TV by subscribing to the service. Married student housing is available. Students receive a cash stipend for meals on or off-campus or for food purchases to cook in the room. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office