Sophia University

Sophia University (上智大学, Jōchi Daigaku) is a leading private research university in Japan, with its main campus located near Yotsuya station, in Central Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. It takes its name from the Greek Sophia meaning "wisdom". The Japanese name, Jōchi Daigaku, literally means "University of Higher Wisdom".

Sophia University
Latin: Universitas Sedis Sapientiae
(University of the Seat of Wisdom)
MottoLux Veritatis
Motto in English
Light of Truth
TypePrivate Roman Catholic Research Coeducational Higher education institution
FounderSociety of Jesus
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliations
ChancellorFr.Tsutomu Sakuma, SJ[1]
PresidentYoshiaki Terumichi, PhD[2]
Academic staff
* 522 (Full-time)
* 749 (Part-time)
Administrative staff
Other students
165 (Law)
7-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda
, ,
-Yotsuya main campus
-Mejiro campus
-Ichigaya campus
-Shakujii campus
Alma Mater songSophia
Sports8 varsity teams
MascotEagle named

It has exchange programs with several other top universities throughout the world, including Georgetown, Yale, The University of Georgia, Sogang University, Hong Kong University, and University of Cologne. Prior to 1957 the university only admitted male students to degree programs, but the numbers of male and female students are now more or less equal. Sophia’s alumni are referred to as "Sophians"; they include the 79th Prime Minister of Japan, Morihiro Hosokawa, a number of politicians represented in the National Diet of Japan, and professors at various institutions.


Sophia University was founded by Jesuits in 1913. It opened with departments of German Literature, Philosophy and Commerce, headed by its founder Hermann Hoffmann (1864–1937) as its first official president.[3]

In 1932, a small group of Sophia University students refused to salute the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in the presence of a Japanese military attache, saying it violated their religious beliefs. The military attache was withdrawn from Sophia as a result of this incident, damaging the university's reputation. The Archbishop of Tokyo intervened in the standoff by permitting Catholic students to salute the war dead, after which many Sophia students, as well as Hermann Hoffmann himself, participated in rites at Yasukuni. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples later issued the Pluries Instanterque in 1936, which encouraged Catholics to attend Shinto shrines as a patriotic gesture; the Vatican re-issued this document after the war in 1951.[4]

Sophia University continued to grow by increasing the numbers of departments, faculty members and students, in addition to advancing its international focus by establishing an exchange program. Many of its students studied at Georgetown University in the United States as early as 1935. Sophia's junior college was established in 1973, followed by the opening of Sophia Community College in 1976. With the founding of the Faculty of Liberal Arts in 2006, Sophia University presently holds 27 departments in its eight faculties. Its current president is Yoshiaki Terumichi. Toshiaki Koso serves as head of its board of directors. Since 2008, the Global Leadership Program was started for students from four Jesuit universities in East Asia: Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, Sogang University in South Korea, and Sophia University in Japan.[5] In 2016 the University reached out to the four Jesuit junior-senior high schools in Japan, joining them in the Sophia College Corporation to help them pass on the Jesuit charism to their lay faculty through workshops and other assistance. These schools are Sophia Fukuoka, Glory Academy, Hiroshima Academy, and Rokko School,[6]

Sophia's Research Institutes Division includes 11 research institutes with about 200 researchers.

  • Institute for Christian Culture
  • Institute of Global Concern (IGC)
  • Institute of Medieval Thought
  • Iberoamerican Institute
  • Linguistic Institute for International Communication
  • Institute of Comparative Culture
  • European Institute
  • Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Institute of American and Canadian Studies
  • Institute for Studies of the Global Environment
  • Institute of Media, Culture and Journalism[7]


Sophia's main campus, at Yotsuya, is urban, consisting of roughly 25 large, modern buildings in the center of Tokyo. The majority of Sophia's 10,000 undergraduate students spend nearly all their time here. The faculties of Humanities, Law, Foreign Studies, Economics, Liberal Arts, and Science and Technology have their home here, as do the main library, cafeteria, gymnasium, chapel, bookstore, and offices. In April 2006, the Faculty of Comparative Culture (FCC), which had been located at the smaller Ichigaya campus, moved to the main Yotsuya campus and changed its name to the Faculty of Liberal Arts.[8] Nearly all of Sophia's foreign exchange students study at FLA.

The Tokyo office of the Council on International Educational Exchange, the student exchange organization, which oversees roughly half of the international students, is also based on the main Yotsuya Campus. The Shakujii (Tokyo) campus houses the Faculty of Theology. The Hadano campus in Kanagawa Prefecture is home to the Sophia Junior College, as well as a number of seminar halls and athletics complexes.[9]

Academic rankings

University rankings
Toyo Keizai National[10]General 41
WE National[11]Employment 8
NBP Greater Tokyo[12][13]Reputation 4
Shimano National[14]Selectivity SA
Program rankings
Social Sciences & Humanities


BE Success National[15]Qualification 17
BE Pass rate National[16]Qualification 29

There are several rankings below related to Sophia University.

Alumni rankings

Alumni of Sophia have good employment prospects in Japanese industries. According to the Weekly Economist's 2010 rankings and the PRESIDENT's article on 2006/10/16, graduates from Sophia have the 8th best employment rate in 400 major companies, and the average graduate salary is the 6th best in Japan.[17][18]

Popularity and selectivity

Admission to Sophia is highly selective and competitive in Japan. As such it is considered as one of the top private universities along with Keio University and Waseda University. Typical acceptance rate is 5%.[19] Its entrance difficulty is considered one of the toughest along with Waseda and Keio among 730 private universities.[20][21][22]

Notable faculty

Notable alumni

Government, politics, and society



Media and literature



  3. "Hoffman".
  4. Breen, John (1 March 2010). "Popes, Bishops and War Criminals: reflections on Catholics and Yasukuni in post-war Japan". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  5. Profile,; accessed 22 September 2014.
  6. 日本管区. イエズス会日本管区 [The Society of Jesus - Japan Province]. (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  7. "Research Institutes Division". Sophia University. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  8. "FLA". Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  9. "Hadano".
  10. "Truly Strong Universities" (in Japanese). Toyo Keizai. 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  11. "Employment rate in 400 major companies rankings" (in Japanese). Weekly Economist. 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  12. "Nikkei BP Brand rankings of Japanese universities" (in Japanese). Nikkei Business Publications. 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  13. "Nikkei BP Brand rankings of Japanese universities" (in Japanese). Nikkei Business Publications. 2009. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  14. "GBUDU University Rankings" (in Japanese). YELL books. 2009. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  15. "Bar Exam Successful Applicants rankings" (in Japanese). Shikaku Seek. 2010. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  16. "Bar Exam Pass rate rankings" (in Japanese). Shikaku Seek. 2010. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  17. "Employment rate in 400 major companies rankings" (in Japanese). Weekly Economist. 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  20. National and Public universities apply different kind of exams. so it's only comparable between universities in a same category.
  21. e.g., Yoyogi seminar published Hensachi (the indication showing the entrance difficulties by prep schools) rankings
  22. Japanese journalist Kiyoshi Shimano ranks its entrance difficulty as SA (most selective/out of 11 scales) in Japan. 危ない大学・消える大学 2012年版 (in Japanese). YELL books. 2011.
  23. Lambert, Bruce (January 26, 1992). "Bettina L. Chow, Model and Designer, Dies at 41".

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