Exciting Winter Break

This is a new exchange program for GMU students! Founded just recently in 2004, Akita International University is still young and growing, yet on the cutting edge of internationalization.

AIU offers all English coursework in Global Business and Global Studies, with a focus on Japanese studies and Japanese language for exchange students.With a student body of less than 1000, small class sizes are the norm here. AIU ensures a supportive and personalized learning experience. In a city the size of Akita, chances to bond with local students and residents abound.

Discover the "real" Japan up north in Akita, away from the hustle and bustle of the huge and sometimes overwhelming urban sprawl of Tokyo, yet within 30 from Akita's JR railway station for when you need your city dose. Try your hand at rice farming, the traditional way! Learn how to balance dozens of glowing lanterns overhead in a street parade! Exchange students are encouraged to participate in numerous student clubs and activities, ranging from sports and dance to traditional Japanese art forms, such as aikido, calligraphy, and even a club dedicated to preparation for Akita's annual Kanto (lantern balancing) Festival.


Thousands of lanterns are balanced precariously and paraded through streets during the Kanto Lantern Festival.

Host families may be arranged for exchange students through the Home Visit Program of the local cultural exchange program, matching students with local families with whom they can meet on a regular basis throughout the semester.

Located along the Sea of Japan in northwest Japan, Akita Prefecture offers students the ideal setting for study abroad, with lush natural surroundings, close proximity to Akita City, and opportunities for involvement with the local community, including traditional festivals and rice farming. Heavy snowfall in the region make it ideal for winter sports while natural hot springs (onsen) allow for year-round relaxation.

Kansaku Shrine on Tazawako

Kansaku Shrine on Lake Tazawako, one of Japan's largest lakes, outside of Akita

Visa Information

Once accepted into a program, it will be your responsibility to apply for a student visa and/or residence permit (if required, based on your citizenship). You will receive details on this with your acceptance letter. Do not apply for a visa until after you have been officially accepted. Visit the Embassy of Japan's website for further information.

How to Apply

Consult the How to Apply section first and make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for a direct exchange program. Next, attend a Direct Exchange program information session. Do this prior to starting an application to ensure that you understand how to choose the right program and what is expected of you during the application process. Check the course offerings at the school you are interested in applying to and check to ensure that they match your course requirements. See “Choosing Courses Abroad” section below.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate program that offers courses that match your major, complete the online application and pay the $175 registration and processing fee. Please note that all supplemental documents are also required by the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please contact the program officer for further application forms and instructions specific to your program.

Choosing Courses Abroad

There is no list of pre-approved classes for you to take on a direct exchange program. It is your responsibility to select courses and get them approved for transfer credit. Please refer to the “Departments and Courses” link on the left-hand side of this page for a list of course options on this program.  You must then complete a Petition for Transfer of Credits Form to ensure that your courses will transfer back to Mason.

Petition for Transfer of Credits Form

Download Petition for Transfer of Credits [PDF]

Download petition form instructions for Akita

You can fill out the petition form prior to acceptance into a specific study abroad program and in fact, you should begin this process when you first consider applying.  Identify courses at the host institution that are similar to those at Mason that you need to take.  This will increase your chances of receiving transfer credit approval from the Departmental Advisors who must sign your petition form. Follow complete instructions from the link above and contact your program officer if you have questions. 

Make sure you find plenty of primary AND alternate course options before deciding on a specific program.  Schedules are subject to change and registration in your preferred classes is not guaranteed, so you should have sufficient alternate course options. Also, please keep in mind that you must enroll in the equivalency of at least 12 U.S. credits per semester.

*CGE reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, or any other unforeseen circumstances.