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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

ISEP at Kansai Gaidai University

Students that attend Kansai Gaidai become part of the dynamic international student body on campus. This university offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about Japan and Asia from a wide variety of perspectives with English course offerings in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Business/Economics. The program also offers a rigorous Japanese language studies component for students of all Japanese levels.

Kansai Gaidai University was originally established in 1945 as a small, private language school. Today, the school prospers as a private, nonprofit institution with 13,000 students. Kansai Gaidai provides excellent educational programs to its students with a special focus on international education. The university annually welcomes more than 500 international students to the Asian Studies Program. 
Learn more about Kansai Gaidai University here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Exchange or Direct-Enroll


Osaka, Japan

Languages of Instruction

English and Japanese - 1 semester of Japanese language study

Program Dates

Fall 2018: August to December

Spring 2019: January to June

Full year: available to ISEP Direct only.

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


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
  • Language requirement: One semester of Japanese language study.
  • Students must submit ISEP Language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0. There is no flexibility in this requirement.  

ISEP Exchange chance of placement is very limited. ISEP Direct chance of placement for US students is generally excellent.

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.  


The two campuses of Kansai Gaidai (Nakamiya and Hotani) are located in Hirakata city in Osaka prefecture, the second largest business metropolis in Japan (after Tokyo). Hirakata is located between the famous former capitals of Kyoto and Nara, both of which abound in ancient temples and sites of historical and cultural importance. Downtown Osaka and Kyoto can be reached in approximately one hour by train.


Students that attend Kansai Gaidai become part of the dynamic international student body on campus. This university offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about Japan and Asia from a wide variety of perspectives with English course offerings in social sciences, humanities, business and economics. The program also offers a rigorous Japanese language studies component for students of all Japanese levels.

Program Website

Website for Course Availability

Asian Studies Program
The Asian Studies Program is divided into two parts: a rigorous Japanese language program offered in the morning (spoken Japanese, reading and writing Japanese) and a wide variety of courses in business, humanities, and social sciences offered in the afternoon. Since all courses, with the exception of those concentrating on the Japanese language, are conducted in English, the program accommodates even those students with little previous Japanese language training who wish to pursue their areas of interest.
Japanese Language Courses 
The Japanese language courses are required of all program participants to equip them with four major skills (speaking, listening, writing and reading). Each 90-minute class meets three times a week and is limited to 10-15 students per class. The elective “Kanji and Readings” courses, which meet two times a week, are designed to accelerate the acquisition of skills in particular areas focused on writing kanji, reading authentic Japanese readings and so on.
English Courses
Students can choose from a wide variety of courses in business, humanities, and social sciences. Here are some examples:
  • International Business: Doing Business in East Asia
  • Japanese Pop Culture: From Edo to the Present
  • Onna to Otoko: Gender and Sexuality in Japan
  • Manga: The Graphic Fiction of Japan
  • And much more! 

Studying Studio Art?

The Asian Studies Program offers courses in Ceramic Techniques, Manga Drawing, and Koto Basics. 

For more information on course, offerings click here.

Fields of Study

  • International/Global Studies:

    International Relations and Affairs,  Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

  • Language and Culture  
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies:

    Buddhist Studies,  Religious Studies

  • Area Studies:

    Ethnic, Cultural Minority, Gender, and Group Studies, Other,  Japanese Studies

  • Business:

    Entrepreneurship,  International Business/Trade/Commerce,  Marketing

  • Communication

    Intercultural Communication

  • Foreign Languages and Literatures

    Japanese Language and Literature

  • Social Sciences


  • Visual and Performing Arts:

    Art Studies,  Cinematography and Film Production,  Studio Arts


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.

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

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Experiential Opportunities

An on-campus community volunteer club named “Himawari Club” may interest students. This club organizes activities in which international students interact with local Japanese children/people in the vicinity of the university.

Student Life

The Experience Japan Program allows international and Japanese students to strengthen their friendships. All activities are designed by Kansai Gaidai students and publicized on campus with handmade posters. Examples of activities include: 
  • Day Trips to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Aquarium, Universal Studios Japan
  • Cooking Japanese Food (Sushi, Sukiyaki, Okonomiyaki)
  • Sports events
  • Learning calligraphy
  • Dancing Bonodori (Japanese traditional dance)
  • Making and flying kites
  • Wearing a Kimono
  • Visiting Toei Samurai movie sets
  • Speaking Partner Program
There are also a number of clubs and circles at Kansai Gaidai where students warmly welcome the participation of international students. Students may join the soccer, basketball or cheerleading club. There is also a wide range of Japanese martial arts clubs such as Judo, Kendo, Karate, or Shorinji-Kempo. Students who wish to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture may enjoy the tea ceremony club, flower arrangement club, or Koto club.

Housing and Meals

Dormitories (full kitchen facilities are available in all dormitories) or a Japanese family homestay program is available. A cash stipend is provided to cover meal expenses. 

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 Direct to Kansai Gaidai includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and a stipend to cover some meals if you choose the homestay.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2017/Spring 2018 semester:

Budget Item






Lake Forest College Tuition




Program fee (estimated)




College Deposit (credit)




Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application




College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)




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

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP

 $360  included  included

Additional Meals




Estimated Airfare




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




Total 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.

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, nor fees to enroll in courses at partner institutions, and will depend on your course registration choices.  

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

ISEP Direct students enrolled in the Kansai Gaidai Asian Studies Program may be eligible to receive a USD $6,000 scholarship at the end of each semester under the following conditions:

• Students must have maintained a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA for the two semesters prior to enrolling at Kansai Gaidai.

• Students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA during their stay at Kansai Gaidai.

Please note that Kansai Gaidai disburses the scholarship directly to the student.
Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

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

Experiences of Former Students

“The most positive thing to me was definitely the housing. I lived in a dorm with 50 other international and Japanese students that I will never forget, we’re already planning a reunion and talk almost every day!” –Alyssa Campbell, Western Connecticut State University

“Kansai Gaidai had a legion of workers in the Center for International Education, all of which were very helpful and fluent in English. When I had medical problems, they even accompanied me to the hospital.” –Dustin Harris, Saint Edward’s University


Read a blog post about an ISEP student who studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University.