The Center for International Education is excited to share this brand new summer program with our students. Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) is offering their 5-week "East Asian Study" program to Nazareth students for the first time this summer. Located in Nishinomiya City, right outside Osaka, KGU boasts a beautiful campus and large student body of approximately 25,000 students. On this summer program, students will select courses that suit their interests, which will allow students to explore a variety of topics related to Japan and East Asia along with KGU students. Courses will be taught by KGU faculty and visiting lecturers from other partner institutions covering a wide range of topics such as history, politics, religion, international relations, business and economics. 

Fieldwork, cultural activities, and and a number of day-trips will be worked into your classwork to enhance your experience in Japan. Some of these visits could include trips to the cities of Kyoto, Toyota, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, and Hiroshima. Our students have the option to live in the international student dormitory 10 minutes from the KGU campus or can immerse themselves in everyday Japanese life by choosing the homestay option. Outside of the classroom, students will have ample free time to explore all that this beautiful nation has to offer in just 5 weeks. 

Program Details

East Asian Study Track

All East Asian Study Track courses are taught in English, offering a wide variety of topics related to contemporary Japan and East Asia. Students may choose one course from each group shown below for a total of 6 credits. Students enrolled in these courses will be both international students and KGU students. Classes are held Monday through Friday, with frequent activities and excursions. Some field trips may be on the weekends.

Group A:

International Relations of East Asia (3) - This course provides an overview of international relations in the East Asian region while introducing students to the leading theories and debates about regional cooperation in the field of international relations. It examines the various tensions between the establishment of closer ties among the nations in East Asia and the preservation of national sovereignty. The central question is whether the East Asian region is heading towards greater peace and cooperation or war and conflict in the twenty-first century. For the purpose of this course, East Asia is defined as the region encompassing the Russian Far East, China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Because it has been extensively involved in the region since the 1850s, we also discuss the role of the United States in the region. We may make occasional reference to India, but South Asia and Central Asia are not a primary focus of this course.

Religions of China and Japan (3) - This course is an introduction to the significant religious traditions found within China and Japan. These traditions include Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, Chinese Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, as well as Japanese Buddhism and Shinto. We will explore the origins and evolution of these religions through a combination of lectures, readings, discussions, films, and individual field research. We will also examine the intersections of these beliefs within each cultural milieu and learn about the lived experience of religious members in the modern world. This course will give particular attention to the philosophical, biographical, ritual, and doctrinal texts of these religious traditions in order to engage with them more directly.

Japanese Politics and Society (3) - As the first non-Western nation to become a major industrial power, Japan provides many lessons for economic development and growth. From the devastation of WWII, how did Japan become the fourth largest economy in the world behind China, the U.S., and India? Since the "Bubble Economy," Japan has faced enormous challenges with an aging population, declining workforce, mounting government debt, monetary policy and exchange rates issues, labor market reforms and productivity growth. What can we learn from the Japanese experience?

Group B:

Political Economy of East Asia (3) - This course examines the interplay between politics and economics in East Asia. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: (1) understand political and economic history of the East Asian region; (2) reconcile the region's success with the difficulties experienced in East Asian countries more recently; and (3) analyze in what ways and to what degree the growth experiences of the high-performing economics in East Asia shed light on the prospects for long-term outcomes of reforms currently underway in China.

Japanese Economy and Business (3) - The purpose of this course is to give students an overview of the Japanese Economy and Japanese Business. Starting with the development of the Japanese economy from 1945 until today, this seminar first gives an overview of the changes that occurred during that time, investigates to what extent the Japanese employment system has transformed and discusses recent developments in the Japanese labor market. In the second part of this course, students will learn about Japanese management by using real world case studies, which will help them to develop cross-cultural communication and management shills that are beneficial for their future careers.

Fieldwork & Cultural Excursions

Fieldwork activities will provide valuable learning opportunities for everyone. By participating in the fieldwork and cultural excursions, you can apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom and increase a better understanding of your study subject. You will have a chance to participate in various types of Japanese cultural activities, such as Wadaiko (Japanese traditional drums), Yuzen-zome (Yuzen dyeing), watching a basketball match, and Takarazuka Review Viewing.

On top of these activities, there will be organized excursions to one of Japan's most popular automobile manufacturers, Mazda in Hiroshima. You will tour the Mazda Museum and a part of their plant to learn about their latest technology, production system and business strategy. While in Hiroshima you will also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum and take a boat out to the world famous Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima Island.

Another destination the group will visit is Matsuyama, where students will be able to discover the many aspects of Shikoku area which includes industry, a mine, traditional hot springs, pottery making and more. There will also be an opportunity to visit Kyoto. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Japanese gardens, visit temples, and other historical architecture, and sample traditional cuisine - gaining valuable insight into a variety of concepts in traditional Japanese aesthetics.

Housing Information

KGU offers two accommodation options for this program - homestays and the International Dormitory. You can indicate your preferred choice at the time of application (please note your choice can not always be guaranteed). 

Homestays - All host families are registered directly with KGU. Staying with a Japanese family is a very effective way to improve your Japanese language skills and gives you a great opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the Japanese lifestyle.

International Dormitory - Located within a 10 minute walk from the Nishinomiya Uegahara Campus, the dormitory is self-catering with shared facilities, such as kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and lounge. WiFi will also be available at the dorms.

Please note, the cost of living can vary depending on where you stay, your lifestyle and budget. On-campus cafeterias and convenience stores provide affordable meal options. There are some local grocery stores near the campus, so preparing meals is very easy for those who stay at the KGU International Dormitory. Daily meals are not included while staying at the international dorm, while 2 meals on weekdays and 3 on weekends are provided with the homestay option. The KGU Training Center is also open to program participants for no additional fee for the entirety of the program. It is also important to note that Japan is still very much a cash society, so it is advised to bring cash to exchange or have a debit card to withdraw JPY. USD will not be accepted for everyday purchases.

Program Fees

Kwansei Gakuin University charged a total of 285,400 JPY for this program, which is roughly $1,900 USD in 2024. Prices are subject to change in 2025. The program fee includes the following:

  • All classes, extracurricular activities, and excursions offered throughout the program
  • Accommodation for the duration of the program (and most meals for those who select the homestay option)
  • KGU designated hotel on Arrival Day (one night)
  • Chartered bus from the hotel to KGU
  • Chartered bus from KGU to Kansai International Airport (Departure Day)
  • KGU Training Center (Gym) fees
  • Liability insurance, fire insurance

The following is NOT included in the program fee:

  • Round-trip airfare (The closest airport is Kansai International Airport - Osaka. Another option depending on airfare is to fly into Tokyo and take the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. Please consult the CIE staff before booking your tickets.)
  • Commute between KGU and the participant's accommodation
  • Meals (all meals for those staying the international dorm and only lunches not included for those staying with a host family)
  • Overseas Travel Insurance
  • Other personal travel expenses or personal purchases
Application Details & Important Dates

Applications can be completed online and are available from one month prior to the deadline. However, you must apply through the Nazareth CIE office to be granted a nomination for this program. Please set up a meeting with Josh Fess to express your interest and speak about the program in greater detail. Once KGU receives your nomination, further information about the actual application will be provided directly to the nominee. Please see the important program dates below:

Early March: Nomination Deadline

Mid March: Application Deadline

Early April: Admission Results

Early June: Arrival Day (all participants must arrive this day and will stay at a hotel located nearby the airport)

Day 2: Transfer to KGU (a chartered bus will pick you up at the hotel and take you to KGU) and check in at accommodation

Day 3: Orientation Day

Day 4: Classes begin

Mid July: Check-out & Departure Day (a chartered bus will take you to Kansai International Airport)

Late-August: Transcripts issued to your home institution 

  • Open to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Must be currently enrolled (graduated seniors are not eligible)
  • Strong academic performance

Please note this program is limited to only 60 student participants for all of KGU's exchange partners.


Qualifying freshman, sophomore, and transfer students can use their SPARK Grant for this short-term study abroad program.

Views from Japan:

    Views from Abroad:

      At A Glance

      Semester: Summer A/B

      Program Level: Undergraduate & Graduate

      Program Type: Academic; Experiential Learning

      Majors(s): Open to all majors

      Language Requirement: None

      Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.5