The Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) study abroad program is a product of the strong sister-state relationship between the State of Michigan and Shiga Prefecture. It is located on the shore of Lake Biwa in the City of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Their programs are dedicated to building relationships between Japanese, Americans, and other nationalities through active learning and participation in language, culture, family life and society. JCMU has been welcoming students of all majors since 1989. UWM adopted this program for UWM credit in 2011. Students may spend a semester or year on the program for UWM credit. Short courses are not included in the agreement.
JCMU sets the program dates for their program. Fall semester is from early September to mid/late December. Spring semester is from early January to late April. Dates are in-country. Students should allow sufficient travel time to arrive on time for the start of the program. Please refer to the JCMU webpage for exact dates.
PLEASE NOTE THAT JCMU'S APPLICATION DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 16, 2019.
Please see the top of the program page for cost information. Click on the term you are interested in and you will be directed to a budget sheet that contains program fees and other important financial information.
The program fee is set by JCMU. JCMU will invoice UWM for the program cost and this cost will be posted to students' PAWS accounts along with CIE administrative fees and mandatory health insurance fees. Please visit the UWM study abroad "Fees & Policies" page for details about program fees. Students should consult the JCMU website for latest program cost projections and inclusions and exclusions.
All students participating in the programs take 10 credits of Japanese language as well as one or two elective courses.
The JCMU Japanese language program offers four levels of instruction: elementary, lower intermediate, intermediate, and advanced. Each level is designed to help students improve their proficiency through combination of in-class instruction and outside activities. The language program as a whole aims to produce students who can communicate effectively in a variety of socio-cultural contexts both in spoken and written Japanese.
Students will be placed into the level best-suited to their abilities after taking a placement test at the beginning of the program. The placement test consists of a written test and a short interview.
Students participating in JCMU semester programs enroll in one or more elective courses in addition to Intensive Japanese Language. These courses further extend the effective use of acquired language skills by providing an understanding of the appropriate contexts for use and a deeper understanding of the cultural background shaping the Japanese language.
Elective courses vary each year, each involving various aspects of Japanese culture. All elective courses are taught in English. Courses will be facilitated by JCMU Visiting Scholars, Shiga University, University of Shiga Prefecture, or online. Independent study options are also available, but must be arranged in advance in consultation with a faculty member from your host institution and JCMU staff.
More information is available here.
JCMU is structured on the US academic system. Students will be in class primarily with other US-based students and will be expected to uphold US university standards while also following Japanese university behavior expectations.
JCMU places a strong emphasis on attendance and punctuality.
Additional Program Information
The JCMU campus consists of beautiful and spacious buildings configured in an academic building, an adjoining residence hall facility, a lakefront garden, a basketball court and a tennis court, as well as open space for students to play ball. A CoCo's restaurant is adjacent to the academic building and students often frequent the restaurant for lunch. The entire facility is on the waterfront of Lake Biwa with a public beach only a short walk away.
Hikone is a rural castle town of about 100,000 people located 45 minutes from the closest metropolitan area. Because of this, life in Hikone is not always what JCMU students expect. It is a friendly town with things to do, but few people speak English, it has limited shopping, and there is little nightlife.
Many JCMU students love Hikone and quickly come to call it home, making many friends, but students should not expect life in Hikone to be like life in Tokyo or another urban center.
To engage students in the local community and to give them a better understanding of Japanese culture, JCMU arranges numerous activities with instructors, groups and demonstrators from the local community and universities in Hikone. JCMU students are able to experience many aspects of Japanese culture and life through these programs.
JCMU students' language and cultural understanding is further enhanced by their planned participation in other activities: long-term homestays, weekend homestays, excursions to important historical and cultural sites, and a wide variety of community-based activities and events both in and outside of the institution.
The JCMU website has lots of information about the program. UWM students interested in this program are strongly encourages to explore it in depth.
Housing and Meals
Most program participants live in the JCMU residence hall but there are also limited spots for students who would like to do a home stay.
The residence hall, located next to the academic building, contains a newly refurbished lobby/lounge, a computer lab, laundry room, television/recreation room, fitness room, student apartments and faculty apartments. The building contains apartment suites designed to accommodate a total of 70 students, live-in faculty and administrative staff. Apartment suites have two single bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. There are also two apartments specially designed to be fully accessible to students with disabilities.
Student apartments are designed for double occupancy, each with a private bedroom/study and shared kitchen and bathroom. Each apartment is separately metered for utilities, including telephones, and the Housing Fee covers apartment rent, utilities, maintenance, and interim period cleaning.
Kitchenware (dishes, utensils, pots and pans) come standard in each room, as does bedding. The kitchen is equipped with a stovetop (no oven), sink, cupboards, mini-fridge, microwave and toaster oven.
Food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies must be purchased by the students. Students must purchase their own food from the local grocery story and cook their own meals, though a CoCo's restaurant is attached to the JCMU Academic Building and many students eat there for lunch.
Home stays with local families offer the ultimate opportunity to meet and interact with Japanese people. From within the Japanese family structure, students will gain a deeper appreciation of Japanese values, behavior, and sense of balance between personal and group responsibilities while developing their language skills.
Home stays are an important part of the Japan experience. All host families have been carefully selected by the Homestay Coordinator and the homes have been inspected prior to approval. JCMU arranges home stays of various durations, based on family availability and student preferences. Students may, for example, live for one month in the Residence Hall apartments and stay one month with a family, or live for the whole summer in the Residence Hall and spend an occasional weekend with a family.
All students will live in the Residence Hall for their first week at JCMU and those interested in a home stay will then meet with the JCMU Home Stay Coordinator for an interview, who will then place the student in a home stay.
All students participating in a home stay will have their own bedroom and no home stay will be further than an hour's commute from JCMU by train and bicycle. JCMU will cover the cost of commuting on class days if the student needs to use a train. Generally, students need to take a train no later than 7:30~8:00 a.m. each morning in order to be on time for class. Home stays will include two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. The student is then responsible for lunch and any additional meals or snacks they may want.
Unpaid internships for students are not part of Japanese culture and, as a result, students hoping to do an internship there might struggle to find one. JCMU does not offer an internship option for students doing a semester or year-long program but they do have a summer internship program that UWM students are welcome to apply for. Students would receive transfer credits rather than UWM credits for the internship but it could still likely be used to fulfill a UWM internship requirement.
Students interested in this option should still plan to work with the UWM study abroad office to guarantee credit transfers and to be eligible to use UWM financial aid. Students will need to follow UWM and JCMU application requirements and deadlines.
Scholarships and Grants
Financial aid, scholarships and grants may be used for our programs. Attend a Financing Study Abroad 101 Session.
Based on eligibility, students may apply for any scholarship either through our office or elsewhere. For a general list of study abroad scholarships and grants, visit our webpage.
Are you a Pell Grant recipient? Check out the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Also, consider applying for the Freeman-ASIA Scholarship.
We encourage students to search widely for other scholarships that can be applied to their study abroad program.
Applying for a Passport
Passports need to be valid for at least six months past the program's end date. The CIE Study Abroad office strongly recommends that you expedite your passport application. Information on how to apply for a passport can be found here.
Japan Program Comparison:
||AY, Fall, Spring, Summer
||Homestay, Res. Hall
|Language Requirement (Semesters)
|Areas of Study
||Communication, Film, Japanese, Sociology...
||Business, Economics, Japanese, Psychology...
||Art, History, Japanese, Political Science...
||Business, Economics, History, Culture...
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Center for International Education
Garland Hall 138