Syrian Scholars Initiative

SSI 2022 top page

Application will open on September 1, 2021 for students who wish to matriculate in September 2022. Please review the information on this page to prepare for application.
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What is SSI?

The Syrian Scholars Initiative (SSI) is a full scholarship that supports Syrian students who were displaced by the conflict throughout their entire undergraduate education at ICU. It covers tuition, various university fees, housing, living expenses, insurance and one-way travel to Japan. 

The initial cohort of two Syrian students matriculated at ICU in September 2018. We now have four Syrian students on campus. We were unable to receive new students in 2020 due to travel restrictions under the pandemic, but envision two students matriculating in 2021.

What is ICU?

ICU is a private, four-year liberal arts college in Tokyo. Founded on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ICU aims to cultivate “responsible global citizens” who will contribute to world peace and to help people from diverse backgrounds live together harmoniously. ICU has been a pioneer in liberal arts education in Japan since its founding in 1953, pursuing, as its name suggests, international, Christian and academic missions.

Although founded on Christian principles, ICU does not proselytize. The majority of students are not Christian. All undergraduate students are required to take “Introduction to Christianity,” but otherwise participation in Christian programs is completely optional. This scholarship is not limited to Christian students – we accept applications from students of all faiths and religions.

Please visit ICU’s website for information on the majors offered (fields of study), student life, location, etc. 

Application Timeline

2021-22 SSI timeline (1)

Application Information

    • Syrian national currently residing in Turkey or Egypt
    • Single with no dependents
    • Graduated from high school (certificate required)
      *If you have not graduated from high school, you can take the GED.
    • Possess a good command of the English language 
      *Minimum score requirement for IELTS is 6.5, TOEFL iBT is 79
      (ICU will not consider any applicant who has a score below the minimum requirement.)
    • Demonstrate a strong interest in studying in Japan and in the Japanese language
    • Demonstrate an interest in pursuing a major offered by ICU

      *You do not have to be Christian to apply.
      *You do not have to have a valid Syrian passport, but we strongly encourage you to apply for one in Turkey/Egypt.
      *If you are a non-Syrian refugee currently in Turkey or Egypt, and are interested in this scholarship opportunity, please email . We are currently unable to accept applications from non-Syrian students, but there is a possibility that eligibility will be expanded. We will let you know in case there is any change.

  • The timeline for application for enrollment in 2020 will be announced in spring 2019.

    September 1, 2021 JICUF SSI application opens
    October 15, 2021 JICUF SSI application closes
    Early November  2021 Shortlisted candidates notified
    November 2021 Interviews (shortlisted candidates only)
    December 2021 JICUF SSI results announced
    January 2022 Apply to ICU (Online entry)
    February 2022 ICU results announced
    Summer 2022 Travel to Japan
    September 2022 Matriculation at ICU
  • Application will open on September 1, 2021 and close on October 15, 2021 (11:59pm Turkey time).
    Before application opens, please make sure that you have all the necessary documents listed under the “Required Documents” tab. You will be able to upload all necessary documents through the application portal.

    Document Screening & Interviews
    Once you have submitted your application, it will be examined by our document screening team. 
    A small group of successful candidates will be invited for interviews in November.
    The finalists will be selected in December. 
    Application to ICU
    The finalists will apply to ICU in January 2022. Most of the necessary documents have already been submitted to JICUF, so this process should not be difficult. JICUF staff will also assist the application process.
    Admission to ICU
    The results will be announced by ICU in late February, 2022. Upon acceptance, the scholars will begin preparation for travel to Japan. 
    Scholars will begin studies at ICU in September 2022.
    (If possible, the scholars will participate in a summer course in Japanese on the ICU campus in July and August.)
    • Application form which will include ..
      – Personal statement (400-500 words) on why you would like to study at ICU, and what your plans are after graduation
      – Short essay (400-500 words)
    • Transcript/report card 
    • Educational certification such as Syrian Baccalaureate, IB, SAT with essay, ACT with writing, GCE A levels, etc. Please inquire if you have another type of certification.
      *You only need one type of educational certification.
    • IELTS or TOEFL score* Minimum score: IELTS 6.5, TOEFL iBT 79, PBT 550
    • 2 letters of recommendation**
    • Copy of legal document (passport, temporary protection card or visa)
    If you are unable to obtain any of the above documents, please contact us at as soon as possible. We will work with you to gather supplementary documents.

    *Note on TOEFL/IELTS

    If you do not already have a valid score, please arrange to take a test in a convenient location as soon as possible. JICUF will accept a copy of the PDF score report which is downloadable approximately 2 weeks after the test. However, please note that ICU requires an official TOEFL or IELTS score to be sent directly from the testing institution by the specified deadline (end of January 2020) . 

    For more information on TOEFL, please visit the ETS website.
    For more information on IELTS, please visit their website.

    **Note on Recommendation Letters

    One recommendation should ideally be from the high school principal or guidance counselor, and the other should be from an instructor of a core academic subject. 

    If you are currently attending or have attended university, one letter can be from the university dean, department head or academic advisor, and the other can be from a university instructor of an academic subject.

    If it is not possible to get letters from these people, please contact, and we will be happy to discuss alternatives with you.


    Q: Where is ICU? 
    ICU is located in Mitaka City in Western Tokyo. The closest train station is Musashisakai on the Chuo Line, and it is located about 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo. 

    Q: How many students are enrolled at ICU?
    As of October 2020, there were 2,908 undergraduate students and 197 graduate students. (Total number of students was 3,105.)

    Q: What fields can I study at ICU?
    ICU offers 31 majors. The list is available here.
    Please note that ICU does not offer engineering or medical science.

    Q: How many international students are there at ICU?
    As of October 2020, there were 336 international students, which is about 10.8% of the total student body. The international students came from 50 countries.

    Q: Where will I live if I am accepted to ICU?
    You will live in one of the dorms on campus. ICU has housing for 900 students. The newest dormitories opened in April 2017.

    *Visit ICU’s website to learn about its curriculum, student life, mission and history, etc.


    Q: Do I have to be Christian to apply?
    No, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria listed on this page, you can apply regardless of your religion. 

    Q: I do not have a passport. Can I still apply?

    Yes, you can apply even if you do not have a passport. However, we strongly encourage you to apply for a passport before traveling.

    Q: Is there an age limit?

    No, there is no age limit to SSI. However, mature students who already have a bachelor’s degree and/or significant professional experience are unlikely to be selected.

    Q: I do not have a Syrian Baccalaureate. Can I still apply?
    If you graduated from a Turkish high school, please present your Turkish certificate. If you have other education certificates, please inquire in advance. (

    Q: I don’t have a TOEFL or IELTS score. Can I apply with another certificate?
    No, ICU requires either a TOEFL or IELTS score. If you do not have a score, please register to take either test as soon as possible. Please note that the official score must be sent directly to ICU (for TOEFL, ICU’s institution code is 0860). However, you can send a PDF copy of your score report to apply for SSI.

    Q: My TOEFL score is lower than 79 (or my IELTS score is lower than 6.5). Can I still apply for SSI?
    Unfortunately, these are minimum scores required for admission to ICU. Therefore, you are unable to apply for SSI.

    Q: Do I have to know Japanese to apply?
    No, prior knowledge of Japanese is not required to apply to ICU or this scholarship. However, all international students at ICU are required to study Japanese. If you are not interested in learning the language, this scholarship is not the right opportunity for you.

    Q: Can I apply if I have not graduated from high school?
    The only way you can apply if you have not graduated from high school is to take GED, which is a high school equivalency exam. In Turkey, it can be taken in Istanbul only.


    Q: What is covered by SSI?
    SSI covers full tuition, housing, living expenses, health insurance, travel from Turkey/Egypt to Japan (including domestic travel within Turkey/Egypt if the student does not live in Istanbul or Cairo), visa application fee. 


  • Application for the Syrian Scholars Initiative will open on September 1, 2021. 

    Please check back!

31 Majors Offered at ICU

Above are the majors offered for undergraduate studies at ICU. For details about each major, click on the above image.

Where is ICU?

Upcoming Information Sessions


Webinar dates for 2021 will be posted in April.

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quick checklist

Please read the full instructions under “Application Information.”

You can apply if you are:
– a Syrian national in Turkey or Egypt
– a high school graduate
– proficient in English
– interested in Japan and Japanese
– interested in a major offered at ICU
* You do not have to be Christian.
* You do not have to have a passport but it is strongly recommended that you apply for one.

You cannot apply if you are:
– living outside Turkey or Egypt
– looking for a graduate scholarship
– interested in a major not offered at ICU
– have not taken IELTS or TOEFL

*If you are a non-Syrian refugee currently in Turkey or Egypt, and are interested in this scholarship opportunity, please email . We are currently unable to accept applications from non-Syrian students, but there is a possibility that eligibility will be expanded. We will let you know in case there is any change.

You must submit by Oct. 15, 2021:
– Online application form
– TOEFL or IELTS score
– Copy of Turkish legal document
– Educational certificate
– Transcript/report card
– Copy of passport (if available)
– 2 recommendation letters
* Everything must be in English. If the original document is not in English, you must attach a certified English translation.

Click here to view a Sample Application.

Aikido ICU

Please Support SSI

Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, it has quickly become the top source country of refugees with 6.7 million registered refugees as of December 2018. With the backdrop of this global refugee crisis, JICUF, in partnership with ICU and Japan Association for Refugees (JAR), established the Syrian Scholars Initiative (SSI). SSI aims to support Syrian refugee youths currently residing in Turkey for their entire undergraduate education at ICU. SSI will cover tuition, housing and living expenses. We aim to provide comprehensive support for the students, including academic, legal and psychological support. Our first two scholars matriculated at ICU in September 2018, and two more in September 2019.

However, providing scholarships for subsequent cohorts depends largely on our ability to raise additional funds. We ask for your support to help provide higher education opportunities to additional youths whose lives have been affected by war. 

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