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Kyoto Overview

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Notice for Academic Year 2023-24 & 2024-25 Kyoto Applicants/Students

In order to ensure student safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, during the AY2023-24 and AY2024-25, the Kyoto program may operate special housing, academic and co-curricular formats which are different to how the program is normally organized. These arrangements are under constant review and more details will be shared with students closer to the start of the quarter.

Academics Overview

Long regarded (to many outsiders at least) as a land of ancient and rigid social structures - yet somehow simultaneously ultramodern in its technology and fashions - Japan presents rich learning opportunities for students who wish to understand how an advanced but ageing society can respond and adapt to the pressures of a globalizing world. 

Our elective courses, taught in English, cover topics ranging from contemporary Japanese religion, to current events, queer life and culture, Zen meditation, and human rights. We also have a strong focus on the Arts, particularly in Autumn Quarter, offering courses on the visual arts of Japanese Buddhism, the gardens of Kyoto, photography as a cultural lens, and taiko. None of our electives carry specific prerequisites, and they are designed to be accessible to students from all academic disciplines. Many courses satisfy various WAYS requirements. In addition to electives, students on the program take intensive Japanese language courses four days per week.

Get Out off the Classroom

We place great emphasis on experiential learning and using our location in Kyoto to our best advantage. Students can expect to be out exploring the city in field trips and workshops every week, and together with our faculty we organize some 30 field trips across all courses each Quarter. These range from short visits to nearby venues, to trips which take a whole day (Fridays are reserved for major field trips). In addition, students will learn from invited guest speakers who are leading experts in their subject areas.

Learn with Local Students

Unique to the Kyoto Program, we invite a number of local students to take many of our elective courses. Learning together with these students (from Doshisha and Kyoto University) greatly enriches our class discourse through the sharing of experiences and perspectives, besides being another opportunity to make new friends. Some local students who studied with us in the past have gone on to do graduate studies at Stanford!

Academic Prerequisites

Please see the Language Prerequisite page for more detailed information.

Directed Readings

Students studying in Kyoto can arrange a directed reading guided by a mentor who is a Stanford faculty member based on home campus. Please note that it is not possible to do directed reading with a Kyoto Program local faculty member.

Those interested in pursuing a directed reading with a Stanford faculty member should work closely with their academic advisor and the appropriate Stanford faculty member to develop their project. 

Directed Reading Proposal (PDF) must be submitted to the Bing Overseas Studies Program office at least one month prior to the quarter of intended study.

Students who are having difficulty planning around sequence courses, particularly those majoring in scientific and technical fields, may be able to fulfill one of these courses through a directed reading.

Remote Learning / SCPD Courses

Students on the Kyoto Program are eligible to take one remotely-taught SCPD course. These courses can be especially useful for STEM students who must continue to take technical courses each quarter but which aren’t offered on overseas study programs. Note that SCPD courses do not count toward the minimum 12 units that students are required to take from locally-taught classes. For more information about SCPD courses, click here

Course Credit

The Stanford in Kyoto Program offers courses that provide credit toward Stanford graduation and most classes also count toward an undergraduate major. Students must enroll in a minimum of 12 units from the courses offered through the program. For a list of all BOSP courses offered in the current academic year and planned for the next, and for information on which courses earn departmental credit or fulfill WAYS Requirements, please refer to the BOSP course database. For information on courses scheduled for the current academic year and for enrollment, please refer to Axess.