1. Outline of Japanese Junior Colleges

Japanese junior colleges are categorized in the School Education Act as universities which differ from four-year universities in terms of objectives and course terms, and since the establishment of such system, have played a major role, in particular, in the expansion of the higher education of women and as places for practical vocational education.

As accessible local institutes of higher learning, the unique features and characteristics of Japanese junior colleges lie in the provision of liberal arts education and specialized education based on liberal arts education within a short period of time as universities. In order to clarify these characteristics, the system of an associate degree was established in 2005 for junior college graduates and as with other countries, graduates have come to be awarded with a degree.

In addition, Japanese junior colleges develop human resources in a variety of fields, and, in particular, play a major role as institutes developing capable professional workers in the form of human resources involved in education such as kindergarten teachers and nursery school teachers and human resources involved in health and health care such as dieticians and health care workers.

2. Associate Degrees (Degrees Awarded through Graduating from a Japanese Junior College)

The School Education Act was partially amended in 2005, and associate degrees came to be awarded to graduates of Japanese junior colleges (promulgated on July 15, and enforced on October 1, 2005).

The background to the establishment of the system of associate degrees is as follows.

(1)Clarification of the unique features and characteristics of Japanese junior colleges

(2)Expansion of a movement overseas to award degrees to those completing education at institutes of short-term higher education institutes.

Through the establishment of the system of associate degrees, it is expected that the academic background, knowledge and skills gained as a Japanese junior college graduate will be properly evaluated internationally and will contribute to international exchanges between students.

In addition, taking the categorization as an educational institute which awards degrees as an opportunity, it is expected that Japanese junior colleges will further promote measures aimed at the improvement of educational contents : for example, enhancement of liberal arts education.

Note 1: Please take note that although the term “associate degree” is used in the above text as the name of the degree awarded through graduating from a Japanese junior college, the name of the degree will ultimately be left to the discretion of each individual junior college and therefore there may be instances where different terms are used.

Note 2: Those who will be awarded associate degrees through graduating from a Japanese junior college shall be those graduating after October 1, 2005. This does not mean that those who graduated from a Japanese junior college before such time will be further awarded a degree. (The title awarded at the time of graduating from a junior college shall be deemed to be an associate degree.)

(University Promotion Division, Higher Education Bureau)