Sophia University



Founded in 1913, Sophia University is the first Catholic university established in Japan.  In following with its Jesuit tradition and philosophy of "Men and women for Others, with Others," Sophia's educational and research mission are rooted in human development, raising awareness of the problems facing humanity.  "Sophia," taken from the Greek root, means "the wisdom which is expressed in ethical activites that further the goals of human existence." This is the type of wisdom that Sophia hopes to impart upon its students.  Recognized as one of the best private universities in Japan, Sophia has an enrollment of over 12,000 undergraduate and over 1,200 graduate students.  Of which, about 10% of the overall student body comprises of international students.  More than 700 international students participate in some form of study abroad at Sophia each year. This program is university-wide, meaning any undergraduate Pitt student regardless of major may participate. 

Fact sheet: 
Learning Objectives: 

As an active and engaged participant on this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • the ability to succeed independently in a foreign education environment.
  • non-US based perspectives on your field of study and/or future career path.
  • a global network of peer in similar fields of study and connections with faculty in Japan.
Location Description: 

Tokyo, the bustling capital of Japan, is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with an estimated 35 million people. Officially Tokyo refers to the metropolitan area that consists of 23 special wards or districts. Historically known as Edo, the area was not formally renamed Tokyo until 1868 when the political capital was moved from Kyoto. Tokyo not only acts as the political heart of Japan, as the seat of government, but also the financial center. There are over 50 companies whose headquarters are based in the city.

Housing Description: 

Sophia offers options for university-affiliated housing or private accommodations. Although Pitt students are not guaranteed spots within university-affiliated housing, Sophia will provide instructions on when and how to apply for housing. See Sophia’s general housing website.  
Although Sophia University is not able to offer housing on its campus due to its centralized location, it does offer housing within commuting distance.  The dormitories that are managed by Sophia or its affiliates are located in the suburbs and students are advised to expect an average commute time of 45 to 90 minutes, via Tokyo's efficient and punctual public transportation system.  Housing for exchange students include both gender-specific and co-ed options. 


Academic Description: 

At Sophia University, courses are mainly taught in Japanese, with a select few in English. Both the Faculty of Liberal Arts (FLA) and the Faculty of Science and Technology offer courses in English. More courses from FLA are taught in English, whereas there is a limited number of courses from the FST. Credits taken at Kobe are equivalent to credits received at Pitt according to a 1:1 ratio. For example, 3 credits at Sophia will transfer as 3 Pitt credits. 
All credits taken at Sophia require approval by both your academic advisor(s) and study abroad program manager. Additionally, for the purpose of full-time status here at Pitt, students should be prepared to take what is equivalent to at least 12 Pitt credit hours. Courses taken at Sophia will be treated as transfer credits and will be marked as pass/fail (S/NC) on a Pitt student's transcript. In other words, transfer credits will not affect your Pitt GPA. Actual grades earned will appear on the transcript from the exchange university. 
As a part of the cultural experience, Sophia University's Center for Language Education and Research offers Japanese Language Courses specifically designed for visiting students. These may be considered for credit or not for credit. Verify with the study abroad program manager regarding their transferability.
There are 3 types of courses offered at Sophia University according to patterns I - III described below. Patterns I and II are "quarter courses", and III takes the format of "semester courses". As it depends on the course, please see the syllabus for further information.

  • 1 course per week for 8 weeks (including examination days)
  • 2 courses per week for 8 weeks (including examination days)
  • 1 course per week for 16 weeks (including examination days)

*1 course is regarded as 120 minutes at Sophia University. (Actual lecture is 90 minutes.)
For a full list of courses, students may visit Sophia's Exchange Programs page under "Course Information" including a full list of courses offered in English.

Students who have attended this program in the past have taken classes in the areas of:: 
Gender Sexuality & Women's Studies
History of Art & Architecture
Political Science

Like Pitt, Kobe University’s grading scale follows the practice of assigning letter grades, such as A, B, C, D and F.  


For Pitt transfer credit, in order to earn a grade of “S,” (satisfactory) at Pitt, you must make an equivalent to a grade of “C” or higher. An equivalent to a “C-” or lower will result in a grade of “NC” (no credit) at Pitt.


Sophia will provide hardcopy (or electronic transcripts) to the University of Pittsburgh’s Study Abroad Office. Make sure that you follow their instructions on how to ensure that an official copy of your grades are receive. Hardcopies should be sent the following address: 3959 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA. Electronic copies should be sent to the designated exchange program manager under “SAO Staff.”  


Exchange university transcripts typically do not arrive from the exchange university until 3 to 4 months after the end of exchange period. Therefore, Pitt students should be mindful of how this may affect their ability to graduate, especially when exchanging during one's senior year. Another consideration is how this may affect your financial aid package, as the S/NC grades are not posted until transcripts are received. 

Pitt students may utilize the following online resource to understand the grading scale within this host country.


Program Fees: 
Pitt students participating on an exchange program will pay regular Pitt tuition and fees, according to their in-state or out-of-state residency status. In addition to the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, this also includes all Mandatory Fees, such as the Student Activity Fee, Wellness Fee, Computing and Network Services Fee, and the Security, Safety, and Transportation Fee.  
Pitt Students on financial aid and/or tuition scholarships will need to consult the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid or respective entity providing the funds to confirm coverage for study abroad. 

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition* $9,880 $17,982
Mandatory Fees $645 $645
Study Abroad Fee $400 $400
Total Billed by Pitt* $10,925 $19,027
*The tuition rate listed is defaulted to reflect the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. For Pitt students of another Pitt school or campus, the tuition rate will reflect the home school or campus. See posted rates on the Institutional Research page.
How Much To Budget: 

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Travel Expenses: Airfare, Passport, Visa, Resident Permit  $2,500
Room & Board $5,600
Personal Expenses $3,500
The Estimated Costs reflect information provided by Sophia and are reported to OAFA to calculate financial aid packages.The listed costs are defaulted to one semester. Multiply the costs by two for two semesters. 
Personal expenses vary with individual students. Review the Sophia's website for more information, and visit our budgeting page for more information. 

Students studying abroad through Pitt Study Abroad are automatically provided health insurance coverage during the official program dates. However, you may need to purchase additional insurance if the exchange university you will attend requires purchase of a specific health insurance coverage per their regulations. It is your responsibility to ensure you know the cost of that insurance prior to committing to the program.

Program Dates: 

Pitt students enroll at Sophia for either a full semester (spring) or a full academic year (two full semesters). Sophia's academic calendars may differ from Pitt's normal fall (August through December) and spring (January through April) semesters, so Pitt students should check the academic calendar at the exchange university. Unlike Pitt, Sophia’s academic calendar follows a Spring-Fall progression, meaning Spring is the first semester followed by the Fall semester as the second. Because Sophia’s academic calendar varies significantly from Pitt’s, exchanging for only the fall semester is not possible. However, if a single semester at Sophia is desired, then the Spring (or second) semester is the only option. The dates listed above are estimated and therefore subject to change according to the host university’s schedule.

Dr. Shawn Alfonso Wells

Hujambo, Hola, Bon jour! I am the Exchange and Panther Programs Manger. I have a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and am an Adjunct professor of Anthropology who has taught in the Anthropology, History, Sociology, and Africana Studies departments at Pitt and CMU. I recently helped students to achieve their goals as their Academic Advisor. I did my fieldwork on Color Classification in Cuba and have led many ground breaking experiential student trips to Cuba. I love learning about different cultures and want to help facilitate students being able to travel abroad learn the world. I look forward to assisting you to achieve your goals.


Schedule a Zoom appointment with me below or get in touch with me through email to discuss exchange options and your future global experience.


Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!

  • Click here to schedule an appointment with me through Pathways.
  • Log into Pathways with your Pitt username and password
  • Select Find Available Time
  • Select the time that works for you
  • Click the schedule button
  • You will see a confirms message on the screen. You will also receive a confirmation in your Pitt email.

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email!

Application Instructions: 

Pitt sends a limited number of students per semester to Sophia. In addition to applying to the Pitt Study Abroad application above, be sure to review Sophia's website regarding their application requirements for incoming exchange students. A formal nomination from Pitt Study Abroad is required for Pitt students to be recognized as an exchange student at Sophia. Therefore, Pitt students must complete all necessary Pitt Study Abroad steps in addition to Sophia's requirements. In other words, acceptance by Pitt Study Abroad does not guarantee acceptance by the exchange university.  
The exchange university may require the following to be submitted through an online application. Requirements may include but are not limited to the following:  

  • Application Form 
  • Copy of Valid Passport 
  • Official Pitt Transcript 
  • Official Pitt Verification of Enrollment 
  • Statement of Intent or Purpose 
  • Resume or CV 
  • Official Language Evaluation 
  • Up to 2 instructor letters of recommendations 
  • Up to 2 passport photos 


Additional Information: 

Language Requirements: Non-native English speakers will be required to show evidence of English proficiency either through the IELTS or the TOELF. In order to take courses in <<>> at <<>>, Pitt students will be required to submit evidence of <<>> proficiency through <<>>. Please check with <<>> regarding these requirements.  
However, a majority of the courses are conducted in Japanese, with a select number of courses in English.  Students wishing to take courses in Japanese, must have a minimum proficiency at the N1 Level.  The official is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験N1) administered by the Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services.  Please see details here.  Exchange sudents who are intending to take courses in English are required to register for Japanese language course each semester, as a part of their enrollment, either without any prior knowledge of Japanese or with some experience with the Japanese language.  

Insurance Requirements: 

Students studying abroad through Pitt Study Abroad are automatically provided health insurance coverage during the official program dates.  


However, <<country>> requires Pitt students to purchase additional coverage through their national health plans. See the details here.   
Insurance: Students are required to join the National Health Insurance system while exchanging at Sophia University.  With enrollment in the Japanese National Health Insurance, students will only pay 30% of all medical costs when visiting doctors.  Sophia further recommends that students enroll in some form of travel insurance to cover emergencies.  For additional information, please consult Sophia's webpage.  

Visa Requirements: 

In order to study as a student in specific countries, a visa is required. A visa is formal endorsement by the host country to grant permission for an individual to enter, live or stay in that country for a specific purpose and period. In addition to a visa, some host countries may require a residency permit upon arrival. 


For those without <<>> nationality, students must obtain a <<>> student visa to study in <<country>>. For an overview regarding the visa process, please review <<>>'s website.  Also, check the <<>> Embassy or consulate closest to you for additional information. <<>> will provide general direction after formal admission on for how to apply for either the visa and/or residency permit. Pitt students should also research the visa and/or permit process through the specified country consulate website. In general visa and/or permit application requirements include but are not limited to the following requirements:  

  • Visa application 
  • Valid Passport 
  • Verification of acceptance from sponsoring university (exchange university) 
  • Financial Documents, such as bank statements, tax documents or pay statements.   
  • Passport photos 
  • Application fee 
  • Medical/physical examination (likely to require a doctor's appointment so plan accordingly) 

Visa: Students who are not Japanese citizens are required to have the appropriate visa paperwork in order to study as an exchange student at Sophia University.  For specifics regarding the visa process, please review Sophia's webpage.