Waseda University Exchange Program

Portland State has always been known for its wide variety of opportunities for multicultural study, as well as its focus on programming that closely involves the community and the region. It was these widely recognized hallmarks of PSU style that led Waseda University, Japan’s premier private university, to begin a unique relationship with PSU involving an exchange of learning opportunities between the two schools. PSU’s extensive focus on Japanese studies was also an enticing factor for Waseda to cultivate a relationship with the school – its Center for Japanese Studies offers a wide variety of programs in Japanese language and Japanese cultural studies. PSU also hosts the highest number of Japanese exchange students of any college in Oregon.

Waseda University in downtown Tokyo, established in 1882, consistently ranks as one of the top 20 schools in Asia. It is also one of the largest, with the third-highest enrollment of any university in Japan, and the second-highest of any private Japanese university. Approximately 47,500 students are enrolled each year. It is unique among Japanese colleges in its focus on international studies.

The Waseda Oregon Office, the only U.S. branch of the Waseda campus, was created in 1999. This partnership has opened doors for students at both universities to enjoy a vastly increased range of options in Japanese language and Japanese cultural studies at their sister university. PSU President Daniel Bernstine is one of seven members of the board of directors of Waseda Oregon, and this year he traveled to Japan to become only the 10th American since 1957 to receive an honorary degree from Waseda.

There are several programs available to PSU students who want to study at Waseda, depending on the length of time they want to stay in Japan, the direction of their interests and their level, if any, of prior Japanese-language proficiency. These programs are conducted at the Center for International Education on the Waseda campus and here at PSU.

The Waseda Oregon Summer Program consists of two six-week classes and offers a crash course in Japanese language skills for students of varying experience. Four levels of difficulty are offered, starting with a course designed for students with no previous experience with Japanese. Being a 12-credit program, the earned credits are directly transferable to PSU. Students are housed in dorm-style housing in the Waseda International Student House and have the same type of access to campus facilities as local students. The program also includes field trips in Tokyo and other recreational programming.

The Waseda Oregon Transnational Program allows for more involved study, as it runs for up to a year, and was designed to accommodate both PSU and Waseda students. Due to variances in the structure of the U.S. and Japanese academic years, Waseda students doing their exchange program at PSU begin the program in April, while PSU students can begin in January, April or September.

The fall semester is hosted at Portland State University, while spring is held at Waseda. Students from Waseda have to complete the entire program, however PSU students have the choice as to which semester they want to take.

Students in this program need to have at least one term of prior Japanese language instruction.

The program starting in January focuses on Japanese language immersion and involves living in a host-family situation in Tokyo rather than in a residence hall. This allows students to more quickly acquire cultural familiarity with Japanese life, as well as providing valuable experience in use of the language.