Learn about Japanese universities: Kyoto University

While you might not have heard of Kyoto University, it's one of Japan's most famous as well as one of the oldest universities. Going to Kyoto University, or Kyodai, is a prestigious honor. They also have international programs, so if you want to study abroad in Japan, this is an option. Find out more about the school here!


Japanese Culture

What kind of university is Kyodai?


Kyoto University (京都大学 Kyōto daigaku), or Kyodai (京大 Kyōdai) is a national university located in Kyoto, Japan. It is the second oldest Japanese university, one of the highest ranked universities in Asia and one of Japan's National Seven Universities. One of Asia’s leading research-oriented institutions, Kyoto University is famed for producing world-class researchers, including eight Nobel Prize laureates, two Fields medalists and one Gauss Prize.


Kyoto University is often called Kyodai because, like Tokyo University's shortening to Todai, it is a conjunction of Kyoto (Kyo) and the Japanese word for university (daigaku's "dai").

The famous clock tower


The most recognizable structure of the Kyoto University campus, the Clock Tower was designed by Goichi Takeda, the university's first Professor of Architecture, and completed in 1925. With attention given to Secession-style design in all of its facets, the sonorous feel of the exterior makes for a building of immense historical significance.




The forerunner of the Kyoto University was the Chemistry School (舎密局 Seimi-kyoku) founded in Osaka in 1869, which, despite its name, taught physics as well. (舎密 is a transcription of a Dutch word chemie.) Later, the Third Higher School (第三髙等學校 Daisan-kōtō-gakkō) was established in the place of Seimi-kyoku in 1886, it then transferred to the university's present main campus in the same year.

Kyoto Imperial University (京都帝國大學 Kyōto-teikoku-daigaku) as a part of the Imperial University system was established on June 18, 1897, using the Third Higher School's buildings. The higher school moved to a patch of land just across the street, where the Yoshida South Campus stands today. In the same year of the university's establishment, the College of Science and Technology was founded. The College of Law and the College of Medicine were founded in 1899, the College of Letters in 1906, expanding the university's activities to areas outside natural science.

After World War II, the current Kyoto University was established by merging the imperial university and the Third Higher School, which assumed the duty of teaching liberal arts as the Faculty of Liberal Arts (教養部 Kyōyō-bu). The faculty was dissolved with the foundation of the Faculty of Integrated Human Studies (総合人間学部 Sōgō-ningen-gakubu) in 1992.

Kyoto University has since 2004 been incorporated as a national university corporation under a new law which applies to all national universities.




Kyodai is regarded as the second best national university in Japan after Todai, and thus has a wide range of academic departments.

At present, Kyoto University is comprised of 10 faculties, 18 graduate schools, 14 research institutes, 18 educational institutes and other establishments.



Faculty of Integrated Human Studies
Faculty of Letters
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Economics
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty of Engineering
Faculty of Agriculture

Graduate schools

Graduate School of Letters
Graduate School of Education
Graduate School of Law
Graduate School of Economics
Graduate School of Science
Graduate School of Medicine
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Graduate School of Engineering
Graduate School of Agriculture
Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies
Graduate School of Energy Science
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies
Graduate School of Informatics
Graduate School of Biostudies
Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies
School of Government
Graduate School of Management
Kyoto University Law School (Japanese Text Only)
Kyoto University School of Public Health


Asia and World Rankings


Kyodai has been consistently regarded as one of the top national universities in Japan as well as in Asia and throughout the world.

World University Rankings 2013-2014
52. Kyoto University


Asia University Rankings 2013 top 100
7. Kyoto University


International population


Approximately 1,700 of the university’s 23,000 students hail from overseas. With students from approximately 100 different countries and regions, the university’s campuses boast a rich cultural diversity.


Kyodai is part of the Global 30 project, which aims to internationalize Japanese universities and offer degree programs in English. No Japanese proficiency is required when you apply to these programs.

The number of international students by region

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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