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Otaru University of Commerce
Otaru, Japan (Exchange Program)
Program Terms: Academic Year
Restrictions: WMU applicants only
Budget Sheets Academic Year
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Academic Year 2017-2018 01/15/2017** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
 Program Type:
 Language of Instruction:
Japanese, English
 Housing Options:
 Minimum GPA:
 Class Standing:
Undergraduate Junior, Undergraduate Senior, Undergraduate Sophomore
 Program Specialist:
Yumi Takahashi-Ede
 Language experience required:
 Areas of Study:
 Program Length:
Academic Year
Program Description:
Jump To: Application Instructions Overview Location Academics Cost Housing Itinerary Resources

Application Instructions

The Japanese Exchange programs are highly competitive and require a lengthy application process to each host university. All applicants must first apply through the general “Japan – Academic Year Exchange Program” application on BroncosAbroad. This application will ask for your top 3 choice of schools in Japan along with regular application requirements. When comparing schools, please keep in mind the GPA requirements, location of the school, and required language experience as these vary greatly between schools.

The deadline for the BroncosAbroad application for Academic Year of 2017-2018 is January 15, 2017. We will then evaluate all applications and invite students to a Selection Committee Interview sometime in early February. After the interviews, advisors will decide on Exchange placements and will assist students with host university applications.

See the Japanese Programs Quick Comparison sheet for more information about Study abroad programs in Japan: Japanese Programs_2016-2017 quick comparison.pdf

Program Overview

Otaru University of Commerce (OUC) is a national university located in Otaru, Hokkaido, the northernmost of the four main islands of Japan. OUC was established in 1910 and reorganized as a university in 1949. The university is renowned for its academic excellence and has an enrollment of more than 2,500 students. OUC offers bachelor's and master's degrees in Economics, Commerce, Law, and Education, as well as a Center for Language Studies with a language laboratory. This program offers courses in business and economics (in English) and intensive Japanese language training.

WMU students interested in this exchange program may be able to contact students from the host institution currently studying at WMU. Contact the Haenicke Institute Study Abroad office for information.

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Otaru is a historic seaport on the northern island of Hokkaido, located on the northern tip of Hokkaido's Shiribeshi district. The city is in a stunningly beautiful location, surrounded by mountains on three sides and facing Ishikari Bay. It has a population of approximately 156,000, and is a harbor city well known for its beautiful canal and historic buildings. Otaru has four distinct seasons, similar to the weather in Michigan. In winter, skiing is available nearby.

Otaru is about 35 minutes from Sapporo via express train. Sapporo is the main city on the island of Hokkaido and the fifth largest city in Japan. Sapporo is a modern city which hosted the Olympic Games in 1972, and it is the site of the nationally renowned Snow Festival, which takes place every year. 

Otaru is approximately a 16-hour train ride by JR limited express from Tokyo. Students interested in going to Tokyo sometimes choose to go by airplane from Sapporo since the flight only lasts about one hour.

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Academic Eligibility
Good Academic Standing
Minimum 2.5 GPA
Completion of Japanese 2010

Academic Program
The main portion of a student's curriculum consists of Japanese language and culture courses, but students also enroll in business and economics courses taught in English. Courses taught in English include: Intermediate Macroeconomics, the Japanese Economy, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and Introduction to Japanese Management (this is not a comprehensive list). It is also possible for students to do an internship in a Japanese company to see firsthand how Japanese businesses work.

Japanese courses are available at four levels. Elementary Japanese I provides an introduction to the basic Japanese used in daily life. Students learn to read and write Hiragana, Katakana, and about 100 Kanji characters. Elementary Japanese II is a continuation of Elementary Japanese I, and students learn to read and write simple passages as well as practice speaking. In Intermediate Japanese I, students continue to improve their speaking, listening, reading, and writing ability. In Intermediate Japanese II, students learn to speak, read, and write about basic issues as well as learn at least 450 additional kanji.

Academic Credit
WMU credit will be awarded for all courses completed on this program with prior approval of the student's academic advisor, academic advisors in departments outside of the student's major department (if the student plans to take classes outside of his/her major), and the Haenicke Institute Study Abroad office. This approval is obtained by completing the Course Pre-approval Form with their academic advisor(s), available from the WMU online application. Students are urged to work closely with academic advisors and study abroad staff to plan a course of study allowing for steady progress toward their degree.

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Cost & Financial Aid

To access the complete program budget published at the top of this page, click here. Students should bring a copy of the program budget when they meet with their financial aid advisor to discuss funding for study abroad.

The program fee includes: tuition, administrative fees, international health and emergency assistance insurance, and orientation. Program fee will be billed to student accounts for each semester.

The program fee does not include: housing, meals, airfare, Japanese health insurance, books, local transportation, passport, visa, and personal expenses. Costs not included in the program fee are estimates and may vary according to individual needs and preferences. This budget does not include activities which are not part of the academic program, such as personal travel, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Costs not included in the program fee are estimates and may vary according to individual needs and preferences. This budget does not include activities which are not part of the academic program, such as personal travel, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Program fees are subject to adjustment due to changes in actual exchange rates or other factors. In addition, programs may be modified or cancelled in the event of insufficient enrollment. Program dates are subject to slight adjustment by the home/host university.

Notes: For tax purposes, the university requires the program fee billing be divided into qualified (expenses and fees related to the class or program) and non-qualified (other costs).  The total program fee equals the program commitment fee plus qualified and non-qualified expenses added together.
   Program commitment fee
+ Qualified (expenses and fees related to the class or program)
+ Non-qualified (other costs)
= Total program fee

Program commitment fee:  This is a portion of the program fee which is billed after the student clicks the "Commit" button to secure their place in the program.  The remainder of the program fee is billed to the WMU student account for the semester of enrollment in study abroad credits. The program commitment fee is due within 30 days once charged to the WMU student account. After 30 days, per university accounts policy, holds will be placed on past-due balances.

Please note: Disbursement of financial aid may not coincide with the start date of the program abroad, so plan ahead!  Some out-of-pocket costs may occur prior to receiving financial aid for the semester, such as the program commitment fee, passport, airfare, immunizations, visa or residence permit fees (if applicable).  These costs vary by program and WMU Study Abroad Specialists are available to answer questions about the program budget.

Financial Aid
Students eligible for federal or state financial aid may use their awards for studying abroad.  After a student has been accepted to the program, they must complete required paperwork with WMU Financial Aid to apply financial aid to the program costs.  It is the student's responsibility to complete the paperwork prior to departure and to maintain compliance with financial aid regulations while studying abroad (i.e., remain enrolled full-time).  

Students applying for this program may be eligible for the President's Grant for Study Abroad.

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Students stay at the "International House," a modern 3 story facility, built in 1999. It is designed for comfort, privacy, and convenience. International House is less than a 5 minute walk from the center of campus. International House is comprised of 42 single person efficiency units (and 2 two-bedroom family units), each with a kitchenette, a bath, and a toilet. There is also a common area for group activities. Each single room is furnished with a bed, a desk, a chair, a book shelf, a refrigerator, a closet, a gas range, a gas water heater, a gas heater, an intercom, sockets for a television connection, and lighting. Coin-operated washers and dryers are available in a common laundry room.

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Arrival date: No later than September 26 for new YOUC students
Orientation for students: September 29
Placement tests for Japanese courses and other necessary procedures: Late September

Fall Semester
October 1 - Mid-February (optional elementary Japanese language head-starter begins in mid-September)
The Fall semester also includes a break beginning just before Christmas until about January 9.

Spring Semester
April 1 - End of first week in August
Students are requested to remain until the graduation ceremony, second week in August.

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Additional Resources

Host Institution Information (external links)
Otaru University of Commerce
YOUC Program
Class List

Country Information (external links)
Japan - Lonely Planet
Otaru - Lonely Planet
U.S. Department of State Information
Country Specific Information - Japan
Culturegram - Japan

VISA (external links)
Consulate-General of Japan in Detroit


Program faculty directors:
Professor Jeffrey Angles
Professor of Japanese Literature & Translation Studies

Professor Rika Saito
Associate Professor of Japanese Language & Literature

Professor Carlos Pimentel
Assistant Professor of Japanese Language

WMU Study Abroad:
Yumi Takahashi-Ede
Study Abroad Specialist
2425E Ellsworth Hall
Phone: (269) 387-5890

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