Sophia University is considered one of the top private research universities in Japan. According to the Times Higher Education, Sophia has the 20th place in its 2020 Japan University Rankings and is the top 4th private university in the country. Founded by the Roman Catholic religious order of the Society of Jesus in 1913, the University has grown from its 3 original academic departments of Philosophy, German Literature, and Commerce to 9 undergraduate Faculties and 10 Graduate Schools, with over 13,900 students in total.
Ever since Sophia was established, the University has been a leader in the internationalisation of Japanese universities. It had been conducting classes both in English and Japanese, and welcoming students from abroad from China, Korea, and even from Europe. Soon afterward, Sophia gained national repute as the leading institution in globalisation, foreign languages, and literature in Japan. As a prominent institution for research and higher learning in the fields of the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences, the University has been selected by the Japanese Ministry of Education to be one of 37 universities to receive funding for its internationalisation efforts through the "Top Global University Project".
Today, Sophia has international students from 77 countries. It also has forged agreements with 298 overseas universities in 59 countries. It also possesses student exchange programs with several other top universities throughout the world, including Georgetown University, Yale University, The University of Georgia, Sogang University, Hong Kong University, and the University of Cologne. Before 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, several politicians represented in the National Diet of Japan, and professors at various institutions.