These are the specifications, that I do already know:

  • [学校]{がっこう} = school, including [小学校]{しょうがっこう}, [中学校]{ちゅうがっこう}, etc.
  • [大学]{だいがく} = university (used frequently)
  • [大学校]{だいがっこう} = university (not a very common word)

But what I don't know is:

  • Is a 大学 technically a 学校, just like 小学校 etc., or do I have to say 学校と大学 every time when I talk about the whole [学校制度]{がっこうせいど} (education system)?
  • Though I know that 大学校 is not used very frequently, I know that the word technically exists. So is it any different from 大学 ? And will a Japanese understand if I use it or will I be corrected?
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    大学校 is quite different from 大学. Most 大学校 don't provide academic degrees. – Chocolate Jun 19 '16 at 5:43
  • You can not say so strongly, 防衛大学 probably the most famous, the defacto university, techinically speaking is 大学校,but generally is dealt as a university. See link They provide students with teaching social science.... – user7644 Jun 19 '16 at 6:12
  • 水産大学校link is almost same with 防衛大学。The campany in the link is an agency for teaching at school, at home etc, ベネッセ. – user7644 Jun 19 '16 at 6:18
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    防衛大学 (National Defense Academy of Japan) is not a 大学/university. It's a 大学校. – Chocolate Jun 19 '16 at 6:31
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    @OP is it(=大学校) any different from 大学 ? -> Yes, the word 大学校 is quite different from the word 大学. if I use it(=大学校)... will I be corrected? -> Yes, if you called 東京大学, 京都大学 or 慶応大学 etc. as a 大学 , you'd surely be corrected. – Chocolate Jun 19 '16 at 7:19

"What is 学校" is not an easy question; there are many definitions of it. but here's the summary:

enter image description here

  • Legally speaking, "the narrow definition" of 学校 (aka 一条校), as defined in the first clause of the law called 学校教育法, includes public and private 小学校, 中学校, 高校, 大学, and so on. And it also does include kindergartens (!) but does not include so-called 大学校.
  • Broader definitions of 学校 include so-called 大学校, 予備校 (prep schools) and even schools like driving schools, cooking schools and 代々木アニメーション学院. Many are categorized in Japanese laws either as 各種学校 or 専修学校, but there are unauthorized schools, too.
  • In everyday conversations, people don't consider kindergartens as 学校, of course.

In any case, you don't have to say 「学校 and 大学」 because, whatever definition you adopt, 学校 always includes 大学.

大学 and 大学校 are, at least legally speaking, very different. 大学校 is even not defined by 学校教育法, and any organizations can call themselves 大学校. But roughly speaking, 大学校 refers to various kinds of "university-level" academies/schools which are not 大学 as defined in 学校教育法. That means, when you have to say something strictly, you have to treat 大学 and 大学校 separately. For example, here is the Microsoft's explanation about who can receive their academic discount:

enter image description here

It is true that, practically, 大学 and some 大学校 look very similar. This is mainly because people typically enter 大学/大学校 right after graduating from 高校, after passing the entrance exams, at the age of 18–19. Native Japanese speakers who are not particularly good at the Japanese education system cannot explain the difference well.

大学校 are not similar to 大学 in that:

  • As already stated, the term 大学校 itself is not defined in the Japanese laws. Many famous ○○大学校 are not regulated by 学校教育法 at all (thanks to @broccoliforest for pointing this out), but are managed by various government bodies, and are individually defined in various laws (cf. 省庁大学校). Some of them are actually very famous and popular. On the other hand, there are many minor organizations which call themselves 大学校. So 大学校 is rather a "conventional naming method" used by those who want to consider their institutions as "university-level".
  • Most students of 大学校 cannot gain academic degrees. A few government-run 大学校 do provide academic degrees, but this is done via a special government organization, because 大学校 cannot provide academic degrees alone.
  • Students of some 大学校 are actually employees, and even paid salary from their schools.
  • 1
    話をややこしくしてすみませんが、一番上の図では「学校教育法に基づかない学校」と「学校教育法1条に基づかない学校」が混同されているような気がします。「各種学校」「専修学校」は学校教育法で定められている区分ですが、「大学校」と称する学校でこれに含まれるのは朝鮮大学校だけだと思います。いわゆる「省庁大学校」を含む他の学校類は文科省から見ると「無認可校」と同じ扱いになると思います。 – broken laptop Jun 19 '16 at 9:42
  • げげ。幾らなんでも防衛医大の類は「各種学校」くらいの扱いはされてるだろうと思い込んでいたんですが、この記事見る限り、あの辺は学校教育法の枠の完璧に外なんですか…ひい…直します – naruto Jun 19 '16 at 9:54
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    ちなみに完全に無認可の学校でも相当学校らしいものもあったりします。今調べたのですがブラジル人学校などはブラジル政府の認可を受けていて日本の公的認可は取っていないものもあるそうで…。 – broken laptop Jun 19 '16 at 10:18
  • This is great! I haven't even hoped for such a comprehensive answer. To be honest, I had my difficulty understanding the widely known English wikipedia article about 大学校, but you perfectly explained that as well. どうもありがとうございました。 – Matmarbon Jun 19 '16 at 10:30
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Earthliŋ Jun 22 '16 at 10:46

学校 means a building or place in which people are educated. There are many kinds of 学校.

学校 which is set by Basic Act on Education are 幼稚園、小学校、中学校、義務教育学校、高等学校、中等教育学校、特別支援学校、大学(短期大学および大学院を含む),高等専門学校. Their name is set by its purpose and the studying number of years. It is said that they have formal kind.

大学 and 大学校 are different. 大学 means university and academic degree is given to the graduates.

The name 大学校 is unbounded by law, so there are many kinds of 大学校. For example, 防衛大学校 is close to 大学, 農業大学校 which was established by prefectures are close to special technical school.

The difference of them are written in this link. http://chigai-allguide.com/%E5%A4%A7%E5%AD%A6%E3%81%A8%E5%A4%A7%E5%AD%A6%E6%A0%A1/


Let me challenge myself, so that your understanding will be clearer.

You are telling us that

These are the specifications, that I do already know:

​学校{がっこう} = school, including ​小学校{しょうがっこう}​, ​中学校{ちゅうがっこう} ​, etc.

Personally saying, most of Japanese 大学 is techinically or not, considered by many to belong to the category of 「school」. Thus by being asked,

•Is a 大学 technically a 学校, just like 小学校 etc.,

I thought at this time, I must here repeat again, technically or not, you were not sure 大学 belongs to 「schools」, am I wrong here?

If I must say technically,

From the list of Japanese Educational Law,


Now, Japanese School Education Law dictates "This law decrees 学校{がっこう}includes, 幼稚園{ようちえん},kindergardens, 小学校{しょうがっこう}, elementary schools, 中学校{ちゅうがっこう}, junior high schools, 高等学校{こうとうがっこう},high schools, 中等教育学校{ちゅうとうきょういくがっこう}( which is generally known as 中高一貫校{ちゅうこういっかんこう}, combined junior high and high schools ), 特別支援学校{とくべつしえんがっこう}special support education schools, ( schools for variety of people with many types of disadvantages ), 大学{だいがく}, universities, 高等専門学校{こうとうせんもんがっこう} ( technical colleges )"

But, before knowing these details further, I think you should be aware 大学 is even technically or colloquially considered, and sometimes called 学校.

I must confess, I was either not sure about 大学校.

Howeven, for your furher info, only for the further info, kindly refer to here

From the link,


大学校 is basically not 大学 so that they do not give you generally academy degrees, but 大学校s such as 防衛大学校 and 防衛医科大学校 of the Ministry Of Defense or 海上保安大学校 and 気象大学校 of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will give you degrees such as those of Bachelors, or Masters, Doctoral, should the so-caled 独立行政法人, an independent agency evaluate and admit the course of schools is equivalent with that of 大学.

Has your understandng become clear enough to be the level of your requirement??

P.S I will be out almost all day on 6/20, Japanese time. Thank you.

  • 2
    Thank you very much! This explains it all :) You said, that "学校​ = school, including e.g. ​小学校 and ​中学校" is "actually technically saying, not correct". But I do not understand, why? I think either me or you are misunderstanding something. Could it be, that you missed the "e.g." in my quote, or is it something else, I didn't see? – Matmarbon Jun 18 '16 at 23:36
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    「including」も「e.g.」も、「例えば~」という意味のはずです。「学校 = school(例えば小学校や中学校)」という説明の、どこが間違っているのですか? – naruto Jun 19 '16 at 3:28
  • Because the questioner is asking "Is 大学 technically a 学校?” and as you can see in my answer that the Japanese School Education Law dictates 学校 includes 大学, so that you can assume the questioner is not sure 大学 would be a school or not... – user7644 Jun 19 '16 at 3:44
  • oh, sorry I was asked by the questioner. The reason what I said such was I assumed you were not sure when you said, 学校{がっこう}= school, including e.g. ​小学校{しょうがっこう}and ​中学校{ちゅうがっこう}but at the same time, you are asking •Is a 大学 technically a 学校, I assumed then you had some conflict about the definition about the relationship between the school and 大学 and the scope of "including" was not clear then...sorry for having said like this. ​ – user7644 Jun 19 '16 at 3:58
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    「大学が学校かどうか」の話じゃなくて、「小学校や中学校が学校かどうか」についてMatmarbonさんは混乱しているのです。「小学校や中学校を学校に含めるのは厳密には正しくない」と読めてしまう文章をKentaro Tomonoさんは書いてしまっているので。おそらく「学校とは小中学校に限らない」といいたかったのでしょうけど。 – naruto Jun 19 '16 at 5:41

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