Masters in Interior Design in Japan

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Standyou Team
Standyou Team

Feb 22, 2024 10:32:21

Masters in Interior Design in Japan for International Students

Opportunities for Study

Japan's educational institutions are renowned for their high standards in design education, encompassing fields such as architecture, graphic design, and indeed interior design. While many programs may primarily be in Japanese, some universities offer courses or entire programs in English or are geared towards accommodating international students.

Universities and Programs

1. Tokyo University of the Arts: Known for its arts and design programs, it offers a comprehensive approach to interior design, though courses are mainly in Japanese. International students might find English-taught courses in related design fields or can enroll in Japanese language courses offered by the university to meet the language requirement for their desired program.

2. Kyoto University of Art and Design: Offers various design programs with a focus on incorporating traditional Japanese aesthetics into contemporary design practice. English support may be available, and international students are encouraged to inquire directly about specific interior design courses or programs in English.

3. Musashino Art University: Recognized for its design programs, including interior design, Musashino provides an environment that fosters creativity and innovation. While the primary language of instruction is Japanese, the university welcomes international students and offers support to help them navigate the language barrier.

English-taught Programs

Specifically English-taught Master’s programs in Interior Design are rare; however, some universities offer related design programs in English that might include elements of interior design or allow for specialized study within a broader design context.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A relevant undergraduate degree in interior design, architecture, or a related field is typically required.

  • Portfolio: A strong portfolio showcasing your design work is crucial for admission to design programs.

  • Language Proficiency: For programs taught in Japanese, proficiency (usually JLPT N2 or higher) is required. For English-taught programs, proof of English proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS) will be necessary.

  • Letters of Recommendation and Statement of Purpose: Usually required as part of the application process.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

  • MEXT Scholarship: The Japanese government offers scholarships for international students, covering tuition fees, a monthly allowance, and travel expenses.

  • University Scholarships: Some universities offer scholarships specifically for international students, which can help cover tuition fees and living expenses.

Career Opportunities

Graduates can pursue various roles in interior design, architectural firms, design consultancies, or even in academia. Japan’s design sector is vibrant, with opportunities in both traditional and contemporary spaces, and the unique educational background can provide a competitive edge globally.

Preparing to Study in Japan

Prospective students interested in interior design should:

  • Research Thoroughly: Directly contact universities for the most current information on available programs, language requirements, and support for international students.

  • Consider Language Preparation: Enrolling in Japanese language courses could expand your program options and facilitate a smoother adaptation to living and studying in Japan.

Public Universities in Japan

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Universities Offering Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai)

  • Known for its comprehensive arts and design programs, Tokyo University of the Arts is one of Japan's most prestigious art schools. While primarily offering courses in Japanese, international students with proficiency in the language may find valuable opportunities in design-related studies.

Musashino Art University

  • Musashino Art University is renowned for its design and art programs. It offers a wide range of courses that could include aspects of interior design within broader design studies. The university is known for fostering creative talent and innovation.

Kyoto University of Art and Design

  • With a focus on traditional and contemporary arts, Kyoto University of Art and Design provides programs that might incorporate elements of interior design. The university encourages creative thinking and practical skills, situated in a city known for its rich cultural heritage.

Tama Art University

  • Tama Art University offers various graduate programs in art and design. Its approach to education emphasizes creativity, technical skills, and theoretical knowledge, which could be beneficial for students interested in interior design.

Chiba University

  • Chiba University's Graduate School of Engineering offers programs in architecture and environmental design, which may include aspects relevant to interior design. The university is known for its research and innovation in engineering and design.

For International Students

While direct Master's programs in Interior Design taught in English may be rare, international students interested in this field should consider the following:

  • Language Preparation: Gaining Japanese language proficiency can open up more opportunities for study and integration into the design community in Japan.

  • Research and Inquiry: Directly contact universities' admissions offices or international student offices for information on available courses, language support programs, and potential opportunities to study interior design within related programs.

  • Portfolio: For design-related programs, preparing a strong portfolio that showcases your best work is crucial for your application.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

  • MEXT Scholarship: The Japanese government offers scholarships for international students, which can cover tuition fees, living expenses, and provide an allowance.

  • University Scholarships: Many universities offer their scholarships or can assist international students in finding financial aid to support their studies in Japan.

Japanese Language Courses and Universities in Japan

Japanese Language Courses and Universities in Tokyo

Best Courses in Japan for International Students

Eligibility Criteria for Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Academic Background

  • Bachelor’s Degree: You must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. For a Master's in Interior Design, a degree in interior design, architecture, or a related field is often preferred. However, candidates from other backgrounds may be considered if they can demonstrate a strong portfolio or interest in design.

  • Academic Transcripts: Submission of official undergraduate transcripts is required, showcasing the applicant's academic performance.

Language Proficiency

  • Japanese Language: Since many programs may be offered primarily in Japanese, proficiency in the language is often a requirement. The level of proficiency required can vary, but many institutions require passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) at the N2 level or higher.

  • English Language: For programs offered in English or for institutions that accept English proficiency as part of their requirements, non-native English speakers will typically need to provide TOEFL or IELTS scores. The minimum score requirements can vary by program.


  • A portfolio of your work is crucial for design programs. It should showcase your best projects, design skills, creativity, and technical ability. The portfolio is often a critical factor in admission decisions for design-related programs.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Most programs require two or more letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the applicant's academic abilities, design talent, and potential for success in graduate studies. These can be from former professors, employers, or professional mentors.

Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement

  • A well-crafted statement of purpose or personal statement is required. It should outline your motivations for pursuing a Master's in Interior Design, your career goals, and why you have chosen the specific program.

Work Experience

  • While not always mandatory, some programs may value professional experience in design or related fields. Work experience can provide practical context to the academic content of the program and enrich classroom discussions.

Additional Requirements

  • Some programs may have additional requirements, such as interviews, design assignments, or specific coursework prerequisites.

Benefits of Studying in Japan

Cheap and Affordable Universities in Japan

Cost of Studying in Japan for Indian Students

Course Duration of Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Standard Duration

  • Two Years: The majority of Master's programs in Japan, including interior design, are designed to be completed over two years. This timeframe allows for a comprehensive approach to both theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline.

Program Structure

Master's programs in interior design or closely related areas often include a combination of coursework, studio work, research, and a final thesis or project. Here's a closer look:

1. Coursework: The first year or initial semesters are usually focused on advanced coursework. This can cover a range of topics from design theory and history to specialized courses in sustainable design, lighting, materials, and technology as applied to interior spaces.

2. Studio Work: Practical studio courses are a core component, providing hands-on experience in designing interior spaces. These studios often simulate real-world projects and can include individual and group work.

3. Research: Students are typically required to conduct research in a specific area of interest within interior design. This could involve exploring new materials, studying human behavior in built environments, or developing innovative design methodologies.

4. Thesis/Design Project: The program usually culminates in a thesis or comprehensive design project. This final requirement is an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and skills to a complex design problem, demonstrating their ability to conduct independent research and present their findings or design solutions effectively.

Language of Instruction

  • Japanese: Many programs are taught in Japanese, requiring proficiency in the language for non-native speakers. This is particularly true for programs that focus heavily on the practical and collaborative aspects of design work.

  • English: Some universities may offer courses or even entire programs in English to accommodate international students. However, options for English-taught Master's programs specifically in interior design might be limited.

Internships and Practical Experience

  • Some programs may include internships or practical training components, providing valuable real-world experience and networking opportunities within the design industry.

Study Options

  • Full-time Study: Most students enroll in Master's programs on a full-time basis to immerse themselves fully in their studies and complete the degree within the standard two-year timeframe.

  • Part-time Study: Some institutions may offer part-time study options, extending the duration of the program. This can be an attractive option for working professionals or those with other commitments.

Universities in Tokyo for International Students

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M.Des (Master of Design) in Japan

Online Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Alternatives and Emerging Trends

While Japan may not offer many online Master's programs in Interior Design, the global shift towards digital education has encouraged some institutions to explore online and hybrid learning options. Here are some alternatives and potential developments to watch for:

1. Hybrid Programs: Some universities might start to offer hybrid programs that combine online coursework with periodic in-person sessions or workshops. These sessions can provide the hands-on experience crucial for interior design studies while offering the flexibility of online learning.

2. Related Online Courses: While a full Master's program may not be available online, Japanese universities or institutions might offer online courses in related fields such as architecture, design theory, or sustainable design. These courses could complement an interior design education.

3. International Online Programs: Students interested in pursuing an online Master's in Interior Design might consider programs offered by universities outside of Japan. Many international institutions provide fully online or hybrid Master's programs in interior design and related fields.

4. Professional Development and Short Courses: Online platforms like Coursera, edX, LinkedIn Learning, and others offer courses and professional certificates in interior design and related disciplines. These can be valuable for ongoing professional development or for supplementing formal education.

Considerations for Online Education

  • Accreditation: Ensure any online program or course is accredited and recognized within the interior design industry.

  • Practical Experience: Consider how the program provides opportunities for practical application of design skills, which is a critical component of interior design education.

  • Networking Opportunities: One of the benefits of a traditional design program is networking with peers, faculty, and industry professionals. Explore how online programs facilitate these connections.

How to Apply for Study in Japan

Education System in Japan

Post Study Job Opportunities in Japan for Indian Students

Intakes & Application Deadlines for Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Primary Intake Periods

Spring Intake (April Start)

  • Most Common: Aligns with the beginning of the Japanese academic year in April. It's the primary intake for many programs and universities.

  • Application Deadlines: Typically fall in the preceding year, often between October and January. Some universities might have earlier deadlines for international applicants, especially those applying for scholarships.

Fall Intake (September/October Start)

  • Secondary Option: Not all programs offer a fall intake, but it's becoming increasingly common. This intake provides an additional opportunity for admission.

  • Application Deadlines: Usually around May to July of the same year. As with the spring intake, deadlines can be earlier for those seeking scholarships or for international students due to the additional processing time required for applications and visa arrangements.

Application Process

1. Research Programs: Start by identifying universities in Japan that offer Master's programs in Interior Design or related fields. Check their specific requirements, language of instruction, and course offerings.

2. Prepare Your Application: This typically includes academic transcripts, a portfolio of your work, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, proof of language proficiency (Japanese or English, depending on the program),2 and possibly results from standardized tests like the GRE.

3. Submit Your Application: Follow the university's application guidelines carefully. For international students, applications might need to be submitted through an online platform, with documents either uploaded digitally or sent by post.

4. Apply for Scholarships: If you're seeking financial aid, note that scholarship applications often have separate processes and earlier deadlines. This includes scholarships offered by the Japanese government (like the MEXT scholarship), the university itself, or external organizations.

Tips for International Students

  • Start Early: Given the complexity of applying to graduate programs abroad, start the process well in advance of the deadline. This is particularly important for arranging your portfolio, which is a critical component of design program applications.

  • Check Language Requirements: If the program is taught in Japanese, you’ll likely need to demonstrate proficiency through exams like the JLPT. For English-taught programs, TOEFL or IELTS scores are usually required.

  • Visa Application: After receiving your acceptance, you'll need to apply for a student visa. The process can take several weeks, so factor this into your planning.

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Tuition Fees for Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Public Universities

  • Annual Tuition Fees: For public universities in Japan, the annual tuition fee for graduate programs is relatively standardized across the board. As of my last update, it's approximately 535,800 JPY (about 4,000 USD) per year. This applies to both domestic and international students.

  • Admission Fees: There's also a one-time admission fee required upon enrollment, which can be about 282,000 JPY (approximately 2,100 USD).

Private Universities

  • Annual Tuition Fees: Private universities generally charge higher tuition fees, which can vary widely. For Master's programs in Interior Design, annual fees might range from about 800,000 JPY to over 2,000,000 JPY (approximately 6,000 USD to 15,000 USD or more).

  • Admission Fees: The one-time admission fees at private institutions can also be higher, sometimes exceeding 300,000 JPY (around 2,250 USD).

Additional Costs

Beyond tuition and admission fees, students should also budget for:

  • Living Expenses: Including accommodation, food, transportation, and personal expenses. The cost of living can vary widely depending on the city, with Tokyo and other major urban areas being more expensive. Monthly living expenses can range from 100,000 JPY to 150,000 JPY (approximately 750 USD to 1,125 USD) or more.

  • Books and Supplies: Depending on the course requirements, students may need to allocate funds for textbooks and other study materials.

  • Health Insurance: International students in Japan are required to enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system, which is very affordable but varies slightly by municipality.

Short Courses in Japan for International Students

Private Universities in Japan

Study in Japan for Free

Cost of doing Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Tuition Fees

  • Public Universities: Approximately 535,800 JPY (around 4,000 USD) per year, with a one-time admission fee of about 282,000 JPY (approximately 2,100 USD).

  • Private Universities: Can range widely, from about 800,000 JPY to over 2,000,000 JPY (approximately 6,000 USD to 15,000 USD or more) per year, plus a potentially higher one-time admission fee.

Living Expenses

Living expenses in Japan can vary based on the city, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Tokyo, for instance, is one of the most expensive cities for living. Here's a rough estimate:

  • Accommodation: Monthly rent can range from 50,000 JPY (about 375 USD) in less expensive areas to 100,000 JPY (about 750 USD) or more in city centers.

  • Food: Expect to spend about 30,000 JPY to 60,000 JPY (approximately 225 USD to 450 USD) per month.

  • Transportation: A monthly public transportation pass costs between 5,000 JPY and 20,000 JPY (approximately 37 USD to 150 USD), depending on the distance traveled.

  • Utilities and Miscellaneous: Approximately 10,000 JPY to 20,000 JPY (about 75 USD to 150 USD) per month.

Books and Supplies

  • Study Materials: Budget around 50,000 JPY to 100,000 JPY (approximately 375 USD to 750 USD) per year for textbooks and other necessary supplies.

Health Insurance

  • National Health Insurance (NHI): International students are required to enroll in Japan's NHI system, with premiums around 20,000 JPY (approximately 150 USD) per year.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

  • MEXT Scholarship: Covers tuition, a monthly allowance, and airfare.

  • JASSO Scholarships: Provides support for living expenses.

  • University-specific Scholarships: Many institutions offer their own scholarships, which can help offset tuition fees and living expenses.

Total Estimated Cost

Considering tuition and living expenses, the total cost for a two-year Master's in Interior Design in Japan for an international student could range from approximately 3,000,000 JPY (about 22,500 USD) to over 6,000,000 JPY (around 45,000 USD) or more, depending on the choice of university and lifestyle.

Admission Process for Masters in Interior Design in Japan

1. Research and Select Programs

  • Identify Programs: Start with thorough research to find universities in Japan offering Master's programs in Interior Design or related fields. Consider factors like curriculum focus, faculty expertise, language of instruction, and campus location.

  • Understand Requirements: Each program may have specific admission criteria, including language proficiency, academic background, and portfolio requirements.

2. Prepare Application Materials

  • Academic Transcripts: You’ll need official transcripts from your undergraduate program.

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related field is typically required. Some programs may accept degrees in other disciplines if you can demonstrate relevant experience or skills.

  • Language Proficiency: For programs taught in Japanese, proficiency (usually JLPT N2 level or higher) is often required. For English-taught programs, TOEFL or IELTS scores are necessary for non-native speakers.

  • Portfolio: A strong portfolio showcasing your design work is crucial. It should highlight your best projects and reflect your skills, creativity, and suitability for advanced study in interior design.

  • Letters of Recommendation: Typically, two or more recommendations from academic or professional references who can vouch for your abilities and potential as a graduate student.

  • Statement of Purpose: A personal essay explaining your interest in interior design, career goals, and reasons for choosing the specific program and institution.

  • Resume/CV: Some programs might require a detailed resume or CV outlining your educational background, work experience, and any relevant achievements in the field of design.

3. Submit Your Application

  • Application Deadline: Be mindful of application deadlines, which can vary depending on the university and whether you're applying for a spring or fall intake. Deadlines for international students are often set several months before the start of the semester to allow time for visa processing.

  • Application Fee: Most universities require an application fee, which must be paid at the time of submission.

4. Interviews and Additional Assessments

  • Interviews: Some programs may conduct interviews as part of the admission process, either in person or via video conference, to better understand your motivations and assess your suitability for the program.

  • Additional Assessments: Depending on the program, you may also be asked to complete a design assignment or test as part of your application.

5. Await Decision and Plan for Enrollment

  • Admission Decision: Once all parts of your application have been submitted and any interviews or tests completed, you’ll need to wait for the admission decision. This can take several weeks to a few months, depending on the institution.

  • Visa Application: If accepted, you’ll need to begin the process of applying for a student visa to study in Japan. The university will provide the necessary documentation for your visa application.

6. Prepare for Relocation

  • Accommodation: Start arranging for accommodation early, whether through university housing or private rentals.

  • Health Insurance: Enroll in Japan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system upon arrival, as it’s required for all residents, including international students.

Scholarships for doing Masters in Interior Design in Japan

1. MEXT Scholarship (Monbukagakusho Scholarship)

  • Sponsor: Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT)

  • Eligibility: Open to international students who wish to study at Japanese universities at the graduate level. Selection criteria include academic excellence and a willingness to contribute to mutual understanding between countries.

  • Coverage: Full tuition, a monthly allowance, and airfare to and from Japan. Some variants of the scholarship may also cover research costs.

  • Application Process: Applications can be made either through a Japanese embassy or consulate (Embassy Recommendation) or directly through the Japanese university of choice (University Recommendation).

2. JASSO Scholarships

  • Sponsor: Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)

  • Eligibility: Offered to international students accepted by Japanese universities under student exchange agreements.

  • Coverage: Provides a monthly stipend to support living expenses for a fixed period.

  • Application Process: Typically processed through the accepting university after admission.

3. University-specific Scholarships

  • Many Japanese universities offer their own scholarships for international students, which may cover tuition fees, provide a monthly living allowance, or both.

  • Eligibility and Coverage: significantly between universities and programs. It's essential to check directly with the university’s international office or the department offering the Master’s program in Interior Design.

  • Application Process: Often, students are automatically considered for these scholarships upon applying for admission, but some may require a separate application.

4. Private and Corporate Scholarships

  • organizations, foundations, and companies offer scholarships to international students in Japan. These scholarships often target specific fields of study, nationalities, or research topics.

  • Eligibility and Coverage: Conditions and benefits vary widely.

  • Application Process: Direct application to the sponsoring organization is usually required. Deadlines and application procedures can be found on the sponsors' websites.

Tips for Applying to Scholarships

  • Start Early: Begin researching and preparing scholarship applications well in advance of your intended start date.

  • Meet the Requirements: Ensure you meet all eligibility criteria and provide all required documentation.

  • Highlight Your Strengths: In your application, highlight your academic achievements, career goals, and how studying in Japan fits into your professional plans.

  • Research Broadly: Look beyond scholarships specifically for interior design students and consider those available to international students in broader fields such as arts, design, or graduate studies in general.

Career after Masters in Interior Design in Japan

Career Paths

1. Interior Designer: Work in interior design firms, architectural firms, or freelance, designing residential, commercial, or public spaces. The ability to blend functionality with aesthetic appeal is key.

2. Design Consultant: Provide expert advice on interior design strategies, sustainable design practices, and space optimization for businesses, retailers, and individual clients.

3. Project Manager: Oversee interior design projects from concept to completion, ensuring that they meet all specifications, budgets, and timelines. This role requires strong organizational and communication skills.

4. Furniture and Fixture Designer: Specialize in designing furniture, lighting, and fixtures that enhance the functionality and aesthetics of interior spaces.

5. Visual Merchandiser: Work with retailers to design store layouts and displays that improve customer experience and sales. This role combines interior design with marketing insights.

6. Design Educator: Teach interior design at colleges, universities, or vocational schools. This path may require further academic qualifications or professional experience.

7. Researcher in Design: Engage in research focusing on various aspects of interior design, such as sustainable materials, ergonomics, or historical design influences. This often involves collaboration with academic institutions or industry bodies.

Working in Japan

For those looking to stay and work in Japan after graduation:

  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in Japanese is crucial for most local employment opportunities, enhancing communication with clients, colleagues, and understanding project briefs.

  • Visa Regulations: Ensure compliance with Japanese visa regulations for post-study employment. The university’s career services or alumni network can provide guidance and support in transitioning from student to work visa.

  • Networking: Establishing a strong professional network is vital. Participate in design exhibitions, join professional associations, and connect with alumni to explore job opportunities.

International Opportunities

  • Global Mobility: The skills acquired from a Japanese design education are highly transferable, allowing for career opportunities worldwide, especially in firms that value innovative design and cross-cultural perspectives.

  • Multinational Companies: Many global firms have a presence in Japan or collaborate with Japanese companies, offering potential pathways for international careers.

Continuing Professional Development

  • Lifelong Learning: The design field is continually evolving, with new trends, materials, and technologies emerging. Engaging in lifelong learning through workshops, certifications, and conferences is crucial for career growth.

  • Professional Certification: Depending on your career destination, consider obtaining professional certification or membership in design organizations to enhance your credibility and professional network.

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