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Advice for coming to Japan (includes university level)


Hi everyone,

I am interested in moving to japan, but I have some logistic problems. First of all let me outline my current situation.

I am a 3rd year (last year of Bachelor) Computer Science student at University of Southampton (UK) and I am going to follow up with a Master degreein Machine Learning or Bioinformatics (with Machine Learning applied within). And after the Master I want to do a PhD in applied Machine Learning (preferably Physics or Biology). For more details about my technical expertise please see my LinkedIn profile.

Now comes the decision:

  • Would I increase my chances of finding a job in Japan by doing a PhD there (University of Tokyo/ University of Kyoto)?
  • If you your answer is yes to the last question, what Universitites or Research Institutes have the greatest reputation?
  • Do you think it would be a good ideea to follow a Japanese Language School before/during the PhD?
  • I was also thinking of doing the PhD in UK and then coming to Japan, finding a part time developer job and attend a Japanese Language School, what do you say?

Thank you very much for the support!




If you do your PhD in Japan, you’ll have more opportunities to make connections here, which will lead to increased job possibilities. It doesn’t guarantee you a job here, but you’re more likely than someone with no other connections.

As my understanding goes, the reputation of your undergraduate university is a lot more important than that of your graduate one. I think the reputation more applies to Japanese students doing job hunting than it would to a foreigner anyways, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the reputation, and instead focus on finding one where you can do research in the area you’re interested in.

In the bigger picture, you have two ambitious goals: get a PhD and work in Japan. I’d consider if one of them is higher priority than another for you.

If working in Japan is your top priority, I’d consider whether doing a postgrad degree is worth it. Assuming you’re from the UK, you have the working holiday visa available. One thing to consider is to take a year after your BSc to live here and look for a job. That should at least give you an idea of whether you really want to live and work here, and if it doesn’t work out, you could always continue with your postgrad studies.


Thanks a lot pwim for your answers!

That’s awesome news!

Sadly they have kind of the same priority due to the fact that I want mostly to either work in R&D on the research part or work in acedemia, thus a PhD is not essential but highly valued asset. (plus I like the field)

I was already planning something like this. I am looking into coming to Japan for a year or so, and live with different famillies while working for them and visiting aroung. Thus I will get a taste of the culture of Japan. (I want to do it through either WOOFF or Workaway).

Regarding the Computer Science market, how spread is the use of Machine Learning within Japan?




Over the last year or so, I’ve seen a large increase in the number of developer events around Machine Learning, so it is definitely an area with a lot of interest around it.


@pwim thank you for your fast response. You did an awesome job with this forum!


If you decide to do your PhD in the UK and then come to Japan you might want to look at the JSPS post doctoral fellowship program

The standard program means you come to Japan for 1 or 2 years to do post doctoral research at a Japanese institute. This would give you good opportunities to make contacts in Japan.

In the UK this scheme is administered by the Royal Society

When I first came to Japan I came on a predecessor of this scheme (STA fellowship) and looked for a job while here.


@dibben Thank you very much for the priceless information :blush: