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JAPAN - ISEP Toyo University

Although Japan is one of the most innovative and modern countries in the world in terms of economic and technological advances, this island nation in Asia has still managed to hold onto many of its traditions and customs. It is this contradiction that makes Japan a fascinating place to live and to study. 

All members offer various levels of Japanese language instruction, as well as Japanese cultural studies.

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 Tokyo University here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Experiences of Former Students

I have made a great deal of new friendships at Toyo. Specifically, the LEP system students have been incredibly nice. When I arrived they helped me get a cell phone, took me out to great sites and keep contact with me daily. ~ Joshua Jones, U.T. Knoxville

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 second-semester sophomore 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.

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).


Tokyo, the capital of Japan, has a population of approximately 13.3 million. The city is the epitome of today’s fast-paced urban lifestyle but still, retains the quieter aspects of old traditions. It is easily recognized for its large-scale buildings as well as its subtle details - intensity and calm - a fusion that truly makes it a fascinating destination.

Toyo University’s Hakusan campus exemplifies this fusion through its central location in the center of the city but also in one of the fascinating traditional districts. The Toyo University International House (“I-House”) is also located in the heart of Tokyo and therefore provides ideal accessibility to all major areas, such as Shinjuku, Asakusa, Ueno, Ikebukuro, and Roppongi. Also, the Hakusan campus is only 15 minutes away on foot.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the ISEP Country Handbook for Japan. 


Nihongo for Exchange Students Program (NEST)

Students accepted into the ISEP in Toyo University program will be enrolled in the NEST program.

If students have not passed Level N1 or Level N2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), they must take Japanese Language & Culture courses (NEST Program); a total of 12 courses and 20 credits per year. In addition, students can enroll in cultural courses taught in English or in Japanese. 

Students in the NEST Program take the following compulsory courses and one elective course:

Compulsory Courses:

  • Integrated Japanese
  • Japanese Reading and Composition
  • Kanji Literacy
  • Project Work
  • Japanese Listening Comprehension

Elective Courses:

  • Japanese Culture and Society
  • Introduction to Japanology

To get a sense of how your NEST schedule might look like click here.


Regular courses are taught in Japanese, although many courses are taught in English. Intensive Japanese language courses are also taught through the NEST Program (Nihongo For Exchange Students at Toyo).

Students typically enroll in 10-12 classes per term, which averages to 15-18 hours in class per week. A term runs for 15 weeks. 

One credit equals 15 hours of class per semester. Most regular courses are assigned two crediits (30 hours)/ Some language, physical education, and laboratory courses are only assigned one credit, although they may meet for 30 hours. Language couirses require at least 15 hyours per week and earn up to six credits.

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 15-16 US semester credits.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 12 US semester credits.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

Letters: Eastern philosophy and culture, education, English & American Literature, English communication, history, Indian philosophy, Japanese literature & culture, philosophy 
Economics: economics, international economics, policy studies
Business Administration: business administration, marketing, accounting and finance
Law: law, business law
Sociology: media & communications, social psychology, social welfare, sociocultural studies, sociology
Regional Development Studies: regional development studies, international tourism studies

Courses taught in English:

International Relations, Peace Studies, Sociology, Culture, Business, Law, Finance, Gender Studies, Urban Planning, Information Technology.

Courses taught in Japanese: Students must have advanced Japanese language proficiency, or JLPT N2 level is required. Students must also be enrolled in the NEST Program.


For more information on course availability, please click here.

Classroom Culture

Japanese students are typically very quiet during class. Rather than interrupting the professor to ask questions, Japanese students may be more inclined to wait until the class has dismissed before speaking with peers, checking their textbooks, or meeting with professors to ask specific questions.

Open questions presented for anyone to answer within the classroom may receive little feedback from Japanese students. Professors in Japan often times call students by name when seeking classroom participation.

Japanese students sometimes refrain from using eye contact when speaking with their professors. This does not mean that these students are insincere nor does it suggest that the student is being disrespectful.


Attendance plays an important role in the final grade for students, especially for Japanese speaking class. Speaking examinations are given periodically to students to test their language comprehension abilities.

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.


Japanese Language Requirement: No previous coursework required. 
Note: Students must learn Hiragana and Katakana prior to the program.
Language Courses: Intensive Japanese language courses are offered in addition to regular classes during the academic year for Beginner to Advanced levels.
Courses taught in Japanese: Students must have advanced Japanese language proficiency, or JLPT N2 level is required. Students must also enroll in the NEST Program.
Tutoring: The Language Exchange Partner (LEP) program gives exchange students an opportunity to learn Japanese while building friendships with Toyo University students. 

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

Student Life

Toyo University was founded in 1887 as a school of philosophy. At its inception, the university was popular with the public as a small, specialized school in Oriental Philosophy and Liberal Arts. Today it consists of eleven graduate schools, a law school, and eleven undergraduate schools located on four campuses in the greater Tokyo area. University enrollment is approximately 30,000 undergraduate and 950 graduate students.
Toyo University was the first ISEP member in Tokyo allowing students to see and experience everything from this metropolis. This is an ideal university for students looking to truly immerse themselves in Japanese language and culture with students from around the world.

At Toyo University, students can build a unique study abroad experience, whether through the wide variety of courses offered in English or the number of student activities, like a homestay excursion. With over 50 athletic clubs and 300 student clubs at Toyo University, there is always a chance for students to make new Japanese friends and explore new hobbies. 


All students are required to attend the orientation, which covers topics such as academic registration, transcript issuance, immigration, alien registration, Japanese National Health Insurance, opening a bank account, housing, and student life on and off campus. Students will also have a chance to meet their language exchange partner as well as their academic adviser.


The host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.


Toyo University strongly believes that student activities contribute to the enrichment of campus life. With 50 athletic clubs and 300 other student clubs, everyone can find a group of students that share their interests. Students can also enjoy rooting for Toyo’s baseball team, experiencing a weekend homestay, participating in various cultural events and more.

Want to work on your language skills while making friends with Japanese students? Check out the Language Exchange Partner (LEP) program!

The Language Exchange Partner (LEP) program gives exchange students an opportunity to learn Japanese while building friendships with Toyo University students on and off campus. Throughout the year, a number of events are held to encourage exchange students to gain a deeper understanding of Japan and its culture.

  Volunteer Opportunities
Through the Student Volunteer Center at Toyo University, students have many chances to participate in volunteer opportunities. Please inquire with your host coordinator on campus to discuss available volunteer opportunities.
Housing and Meals

Students are placed in the International House, or I-House, an off-campus dormitory. The Hakusan campus is only 15 minutes away on foot. Housing is typically a double room with one roommate. No married student o6,302r family housing is available. Students receive a monthly stipend to either purchase meals at the university cafeteria and local restaurants, or to prepare their own meals. 

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 to Toyo University includes orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, and the equivalent of 19/meals per week. The Direct fee includes all of the above, plus insurance.  

ISEP costs for Exchange are usually the most cost-effective, as it is intended to promote mobility of students around the world. Direct options are available for those students that prefer to attend a school with limited availability for Exchange, though costs may be different as they are set by the host school. However, the program fee may be different than that of Exchange, which tend to be less expensive to promote more exchange opportunities for all schools.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item





Lake Forest College Tuition



Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost for Southern Hemisphere programs, as that starts a new academic year.



Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College



ISEP Confirmation and Application Fees



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

Note: Some countries require national insurance, which may be instead of, or in addition to, ISEP 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 2019. 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.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

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