CIEE Arts + Sciences in Tokyo, Japan

Video and Photos

Sunrise on Mt. Fuji
Sunrise on Mt. Fuji
In the train on the way to Kamakura
With the cherry blossoms in front of Sophia University
With the beautiful view in Miyajima
The exchange students that were part of the International Student Club, one of many club activities at the university.
Study with CIEE in Tokyo, Japan
Study with CIEE in Tokyo, Japan


Take your arts and sciences studies a step further in a city that radiates light and energy (along with anime, Godzilla, and Hello Kitty). The prestigious Sophia University is CIEE’s partner school and your host for coursework in English on anthropology, art history, cultural studies, history, international business and economics, linguistics, literature, political science, and religion and philosophy. While taking your courses in the heart of fascinating, sprawling, and densely populated Tokyo, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the culture and language. Opportunities to volunteer in the community further enriches the experience. All courses are complemented with CIEE co-curricular activities and excursions beyond the city to enhance classroom learning and provide intercultural understanding.

  • Take giant steps in your Japanese language skill, with classes at your level, from pure beginner or nearly fluent.
  • Take the bullet train to explore Hiroshima’s famous Peace Memorial Museum and see firsthand, the impact of the world’s first atomic bomb.
  • Share classes and lasting friendships – with Japanese students.

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CIEE Scholarships
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Questions & Answers

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based on 12 reviews
  • Academics 6.9
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 12 of 12
Yes, I recommend this program

CIEE semester at Sophia University was great!

I did a semester abroad at Sophia Uni. in Tokyo with CIEE, and overall it was a great experience. The program provided many opportunities to travel around Tokyo with a group, and travel to destinations across Japan like Hiroshima, which other programs I've been on didn't do. Something CIEE did very well was reimburse students for cultural activities throughout the semester, and the staff did a great job keeping students informed on what activities were available and what complimentary tickets for exhibits and attractions they had on hand, which were plenty. Also, I liked the opportunity to write blog posts for CIEE and be paid for it, definitely helps to have more spending money while abroad. The staff were helpful when I had emergencies, and were always available when I had questions or concerns.

What would you improve about this program?
My only concern was that my housing situation caused me health problems due to mold exposure, so I'd recommend that CIEE be more thorough with their inspections of potential host family and dorm housing to ensure safety.
Yes, I recommend this program

Japan Abroad 2019

Japan is the first country I've traveled to and it's a big step from Minnesota. I did a homestay and I had actually started this adventure with a close friend and roommate. Things didnt work out and suddenly I was alone and far away from home. But staff at CIEE were right there beside me to help me put my happiness above all else and make the most of my time abroad. CIEE is more than just a program, it's a collective group of people who want the best for you and have gone through similar situations. My advice to those planning on travelling abroad is to lean on the support you're given with CIEE. Dont be shy to ask for help or just someone to talk or have ice cream with. Also, dont isolate yourself. Get to know some people in the program, your classes, around your living rooms. Have fun and let loose.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I lost my key to my homestay and it was nerve wracking letting the family know. I overcame it with the aid the CIEE staff member, Hazuki, who taught me how to politely apologize and helped me get a new key made.
Selfie taken when my host family took me skiiing (I was terrible)
Yes, I recommend this program

Lifelong Memories

I'm not sugar coating anything when I say that I had the best time of my life here and would recommend it to a stranger, walking down the street, not even asking me, not caring in one single bit, that they should go to Japan. I've met lifelong friends that I cherish with every part of my life, and memories that will make me weep once I go back and no longer get to be in Tokyo. I will say a few things that might make you think twice about going: 1. No car, the trains are busy, but that can also make it fun. 2. There is only one Mexican place I'd actually recommend and that's "Chiles". Please go, the cook is Cuban, and will adore you if you speak in Spanish. 3. If you look a little different, you get stared at. It sucks, but have fun with it. You're a gaijin, might as well have a lot of fun with it. 4. Thrift stores just get old-fashion looking clothes and double the price. 5. They pickle everything you can imagine but they don't have actual dill or sour PICKLES.

I had a great time with the program, the trip to Hiroshima was one of the most rewarding, though bittersweet, of course. I stayed with a host family throughout the duration of my time in Japan, and I absolutely love them as if they are my own family. It was big with three children, and it wasn't abnormal for the kids to break out in song at any point in time (those were the best though - you'll never get serenaded more than in the Ito house). I don't think anyone wouldn't be able to have a very memorable time.

What would you improve about this program?
It's kind of frustrating about the schedule and how you can't see the courses. But, that's a Sophia problem not a CIEE one. Also, pickles.
Yes, I recommend this program

A little bit of everything

This program offers a lot of fun events that really made things fun and the orientation in the beginning really helped to make friends with the others in the program. There's amazing support from the on-site staff that I would say it's a lifesaver. I got to go to various places and experiences various things like sushi making, washi making, and attending a philharmonic orchestra performance for free because of this program. I also really appreciate the transportation reimbursements they do for their events and they also offer cultural reimbursement for things you do on your own. I've met some really amazing people through this program and the director of the program also gave me some advice when I asked about career paths,etc. It's definitely worth picking this program if you want to be in Tokyo.

What would you improve about this program?
I think some things like the housing application/match-up could be done better but to be honest, it's a great program that's well put together.
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring Semester in Tokyo

Arriving with the sakura in full bloom was the perfect start to an amazing study abroad. You quickly make friends with others in the group as you go on scavenger hunts and explore the city. The program and your peers are very supportive and we all share the same fears about being in a new country. My homestay family was very flexible and caring. My host mom would send me messages reminding me to drink water and eat salty things when the heat wave hit Tokyo.

Soohorang & I
Yes, I recommend this program

CIEE Tokyo Program

Throughout the application process to CIEE's program, every question I had was either followed by a rapid email reply, or a phone call. The longest I ever waited for a response was when my flight was delayed on the way to Tokyo, and I couldn't check my emails on the plane.
One major thing that I had worried about while studying abroad was financials, and CIEE made sure to sponsor multiple excursions, adventures, and activities for its students. These excursions include going to Hiroshima and Miyajima, touring Kamakura, going to Sumo, getting tickets to museums, and much more! Furthermore, I was able to experience multiple cultural day trips, and be reimbursed after. Not only does this help save money for the students, but it allowed us to go on twice the amount of adventures that we normally may have!
Something that future participants should know is that if you're at any time feeling stressed out, or just need someone to talk to, CIEE has an office that is conveniently located on the Sophia campus that you can relax in any time between 10 and 5. Even if you just go to the office for a quick lunchtime snack, you'll be sure to leave in a happier mood then when you came. Talking to the CIEE staff is like talking to a friend. Be it movies or places to go, the office staff will help you out.
From my time in this program, I have gained a large support network, ideas for future jobs, and have met some highly influential people that I can call my friends. Everyone in the program has a unique background, and this really helps to create an ongoing network.
TLDR: If you wish to have fun, learn a lot, meet people, and make amazing memories, apply to CIEE's Tokyo program.

Yes, I recommend this program

A ride of a life time

One of the best experience ever. Studying abroad 3 times, I would say Tokyo has been the most fun and eye opening. The program itself is great, they are there to support you and help you with what ever you need, they make the extra mile to make sure you are safe and enjoying your experience in Tokyo. CIEE staff is one of the best around and they personally try to get to know you as a student and person. CIEE you are truly the best!
Tokyo is such an amazing city to visit and to live there for 4 months has been a dream come true. I recommend everyone who is questioning whether or not to study in Tokyo to take the leap of faith. The city is welcoming!
The academics however could be a bit better. Sophia University is a great school but may not be what many students from a foreign country is use to. Faculty can be a bit more organized and lectures can be more clear. There was a lot of self teaching and not much help and support from the school itself. The language class was very difficult and demanding but really rewarding. The professors for the language classes are use to teaching foreign students and have so much passion in teaching students who want to learn Japanese.
Homestay or dorm, either experience is a fun and meaningful one. I did home stay and was a bit challenging for me but over the 4 months I learned so much from my host family and they contributed so much to my experience.
The city and country has so much to do, you will never be bored. I miss Japan already and I only left about three weeks ago!

What would you improve about this program?
The academics can be a lot better. School and the scheduling was a major problem in the beginning for many students as there were limited classes and limited time slots for students to choose from. For students who don't really have any flexibility in their academic path/ schedule, it may be a bit difficult to get classes to fulfill requirements. As with the process of choosing homestay or dorm. Very little details were given and not much guidance in what to choose. It would be insightful for new students to learn about experience with homestays and dorms from past students.
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure of a lifetime

CIEE sets you up to have a great experience in such amazing country. They give you a home base to plan your grand adventures through the wonderland that is Japan. I traveled throughout Japan's major cities and experienced Japanese culture in all different parts of Japan. I was able to embrace a different education system and try exotic new foods. I did so much in one semester but my all time favorite memory was scaling Fuji san ( Mt.Fuji ) with my friends. I was able to climb to top in time for a epic awe-inspiring sunrise it was such amazing time. One tip I would give is make friends with Japanese students it will help with your language skills plus they are funny and extremely nice and make great friends.I just recently had my friend from Tokyo come visit me in Boston and we had so much fun. I definitely recommended this program anyone that wants amazing study Abroad experienced. I will definitely be looking for a job in the future that revolves around Japan.

Yes, I recommend this program

Love Tokyo

Everything in Tokyo is so convenient for example trains, schools, and most importantly food. I met some of my best friends in this program. Three years later they are still my closest friends even after the program ended. This program taught me a lot about Japan and about life in general. Great staff, awesome school, and a wonderful adventure. I now live and work in Japan, it's been one great of a ride so far. I recommend this program to anyone seeking to explore a new country, you won't regret it!

What would you improve about this program?
Bigger Dorm room.
Yes, I recommend this program

The best decision I've ever made

I am born and raised in the United States with a strong Japanese influence from my parents. I also attended Japanese School since kindergarten to high school and consider myself fluent in Japanese. On top of that, my family lives in Japan and I often visit them during vacation. Therefore, for the first 2 years of college, I was reluctant to go to study abroad since it felt like I would be "cheating" the system. Even when I landed in Tokyo to begin this journey, I was unsure if I had made the right decision. But the CIEE Tokyo staff welcomed me as if they could read my mind with a warm smile and helped me ease into studying abroad seamlessly. The staff here are hard working, caring, and are always available for help and support. The program also provides students with tickets to various events around Tokyo throughout the semester, and I personally took advantage of this and filled my weekends up and to push myself to get out.

There are, obviously, different shapes and forms of studying abroad, and it depends on what the individual is looking for. However, this program will help you make your "study abroad dreams" come true with their flexibility and support.

I made life-time friends, uncountable number of memories, and most importantly, fulfilled my childhood dreams. I would, with no doubt, recommend this program to anyone who is interested in studying abroad in Tokyo within a heartbeat!

What would you improve about this program?
Keep up the amazing work!
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience

The CIEE program was a worthwhile experience. It opened my eyes to a totally new world. the program helped me shaped my future. CIEE gave us opportunities to travel to different parts of Japan. We went to Kamakura and Hiroshima during the semester. There was plenty of time to hang with our new friends both local people from Tokyo/Sophia University and other CIEE students, bond with our host families, and independent travel. I made life long friends studying abroad with CIEE. And I still keep up to date with the staff in Tokyo. I joined different clubs in the University and interact with Japanese students, but also relaxed in the CIEE office with other CIEE students. Tokyo has everything you need. Everyday was an adventure. From shopping, socializing, music, parties, traveling, sports, movies, dancing, and random encounters with strangers, not one day was wasted.

Because of CIEE, I currently reside in Japan as a teacher. It couldn't have been possible with the support of the CIEE staff. They helped me and the other exchange students 110%. The staff supports their students from the very beginning. From pre-departure and orientation to the closing ceremony. There were many orientations that may have been to excessive to some people, but it is important for those who are traveling abroad for the very first time. This experience changed my life and learned more about myself. I will never forget how 2013 became the biggest turning point in my life.

What would you improve about this program?
Shorten the Orientation on cultural understanding. Its important but it does drag on. I clearly remember sitting in a room for such a long time with everyone else. Many people were annoyed so they weren't listening after the first 20 minutes or so. Especially being in Tokyo, people are anxious to explore once they arrive. I think it can greatly be approved if it was split into groups with a sempai leader running a group discussion on it in a cafe or park instead of watching an hour long powerpoint in a classroom.
Yes, I recommend this program

CIEE Tokyo spring semester program - loved it!

I did a study abroad program in Sophia University spring 2010 and I have to say it was absolutely amazing! There are options to dorm or home-stay and I chose to hom-stay since I thought it would be a great way to improve language (although I've heard complaints that some families tend to speak English to the exchange students so it defeats the purpose). Although I'm not going to lie that luck is quite important when it comes to host family assignment. My host family were great (yess!) - they were really friendly and chill, so if I needed to come home late or go on trips I just had to text them in advanced. And I still remember the delicious Japanese food waiting for me everyday after school :3. Speaking of food, I thought it definitely was one of the best part of the experience. The school is located at a very convenient location (really close to shinjuku) so lots of places to eat for lunch/dinner. And the cafeteria at school will always be a good backup for yummy yet cost-efficient Japanese lunch!
The school itself is one of the more prestigious universities in Japan so the academics were great overall even compared to US. Except for the mandatory Japanese language course, everything else is taught in English and there is a good range of courses to choose from depending on your interests/needs. Although the amount of courses are limited and may not be exactly what you're looking for sometimes. The school is also known for its English program so there are a lot of Japanese English speakers. One drawback is that if you're not comfortable hanging out with non-English speakers, it might be hard for you to improve your language. Many of us just attended the school clubs and circles to make local Japanese friends, and these club activities/friends are in fact the most crucial part of Japanese college/social life. I highly recommend joining one or two so it's not like you went on a 4-month vacation in Tokyo with your American friends without even knowing what real Japanese food tastes like.
The program staff were helpful overall as they do try to help make the most out of everyone's experience. There were weekend excursions to Kyoto and Hiroshima too depending on your length of stay. Since I stayed for a semester we went to Hiroshima and it was very educational and raised awareness and enriched our knowledge about the atomic bomb and local culture/history. Another thing is that the program fee was pretty high if you don't have financial aids/scholarships. But I think that's an understandable tradeoff for having any good experience.
Japan is known to be one of the countries with the lowest crime rates but I'm not saying it's guaranteed that everywhere is safe. However I've never personally experienced nor heard any bad stories in terms of safety issue. Some of us were even able to recover our lost wallets and other valuable items from the locals.
My only complaint would be the long commute each day. Downtown Tokyo is very expensive to live in so most residential areas are 1 hr or more away from where our school was. It does get tiring sometimes after a long day and you just want to go back and sleep. But you'll still have to go through the train/bus rides to get back. And one stereotype that I verified to be true is that Japanese subways ARE extremely crowded during rush hour and you'll just have to deal with it. However, it's not the worst thing in the world as long as you're not hungover.. I might sound weird but I kind of miss the crowded subways rides. And I still remember how amazed I was when I first saw that every single person on the platform just automatically formed lines when the trains approach so people can come out first then they would get in.
I had a great time overall and learned a lot about the country, the culture and even myself. I'm sure there are people who didn't have as amazing of a time for various reasons but it really depends on how you take it. It wouldn't be great anywhere if you're not willing to try and embrace the culture/differences when you're in a foreign country - no matter how nice your study abroad program is. So it is dependent on individuals but I think bottom line, this is a very good program based on the above facts. Of course, it's definitely wise to do enough research and compare horizontally to decide which program best fits your interest.