Tohoku University - TU Review

Sendai, Japan
Advanced Molecular ...
Undergrad English Program in Tohoku University

I came to Tohoku in 2013 to study chemistry in one of its English program, named Advanced Molecular Chemistry, designed to nurture its students to be outstanding researcher. (

Overall, I learnt a lot, my study abroad experience was exciting and thrilling. The people are nice and supporting, I made lots of friends here and the food is incredibly good although there are only few choices when it comes to Halal/Moslem friendly food

The curriculum in English program adopts the Japanese curriculum. The teachers are more than qualified, always up for questions and well-regarded in their field. Since the English program for undergrad is relatively new, up until the time of writing we haven’t seen much variety of output; most of the seniors go on to graduate program in Tohoku.

The financial side of things changes from time to time – in my year no one got full scholarship (living expense + tuition fee) guaranteed for 4 years, either we got from private foundations or merit-based government scholarship which should be extended every year. Fortunately every accepted scholar has their tuition fee freed and has the opportunity to apply for a waiver so that the money can be used as living expense. The good news is, since 2015, there are several 4-year full scholarships reserved for excellent individuals, although there’s no guarantee that it will still be available in the future.

True to its founding principle, “Research First”, undergrads in their third (second semester) and forth year are required to do their own research in one of the laboratories. The available choices depend on the affiliation of the program and for my course, most of the affiliated labs are advanced labs with students master degree and above. Having said that, it can be daunting to be the only undergrad in the lab with zero knowledge of the field. Of course, there are advantages such as being familiar with advanced techniques and cutting edge technology that are essential to be a researcher, early.

The biggest challenge during my years here is language. With no prior study of Japanese before coming, students are only equipped with Japanese classes up to intermediate level (from first to third semester). For basic needs it is more than enough, but not for taking classes which you may think it’s necessary since we’re in English program but actually it is! There are basic laboratory classes side by side Japanese students and we need Japanese to communicate and discuss more efficiently. Also, in our chosen laboratory, members are more comfortable discussing in Japanese regardless their English ability (plus, valuable theses are in Japanese, duh.). Language is the biggest hindrance to fully absorb knowledge.

So, if you’re excellent in academic, have the desire to study abroad, are excited to learn new language (very hard!) and culture, and an aspiring chemist (TU also has an aerospace and mechanical engineer program and marine biology program in English), you might want to give this program a shot and hopefully win the scholarship!

Programme: Advanced Molecular Chemistry
Degree: Bachelor's
Graduation: 2018
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