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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr.)

SPECIAL REPORT

Striving for a bridge between theory and practice - "Professional Graduate School"

With the aim of creating workers with a high level of professionalism our university has established professional graduate schools.
Here we will present the significance of the united theoretical and practical curriculum that can only be seen in the professional graduate schools, and the educational effects it plays on undergraduate education.

Part.1

Professional graduate schools answering the demands of the times

We asked some questions about the background and significance, aims and educational effects of the professional graduate schools.

Acquiring the skills to solve various issues in modern society at the workplace- The professional graduate school

Aiji Tanaka Executive Director (Director-General, Academic Affairs Division)

Producing workers with a high level of professionalism

——What targets were originally set for the professional graduate schools?

In a word, to be different from the two-stage graduate schools nurturing researchers, and this is a graduate school which creates businessmen with high levels of professionalism.

In the US there are many professional schools, the equivalent of professional graduate schools in Japan, so people are more familiar with graduate schools than in Japan. For example, there are medical schools for prospective doctors and law schools for those wishing to join the legal profession, business schools for those wanting to learn management and journalism schools for budding journalists. In the case of business and journalism schools, most students will enter after gaining practical experience in the working world. That kind of career path is readily accepted in society there.

On the other hand, the professional graduate school system started in Japan in 2003.Practical educational methods were introduced, and rules for the placement of a fixed number of professional instructors set.

——What is the background to the introduction of the professional graduate school system in Japan?

Graduate student voices (From the Student Affairs Division's 2010 29th Student Life Survey Report Top 5 replies)

In a society which has become complicated with the progress of science and technology and globalization, it has become highly necessary to have people with a high level of professionalism who can take the burden of solving various issues. Furthermore, in Japan up until now, companies have spent a lot of time and money in human resource training, but now they can't afford to do so, and with the circulation of resources, they have become unable to train employees at their own expense. That is where the hope for universities to fill that role has been placed. That tendency will continue to grow stronger. Also, professional graduate schools take on the role as a place for people to restudy topics they have found through their work.

Data shows that in America 16% of managers of top level companies hold doctorates and 75% hold either a doctorate or Master's degree. Study at graduate school enhances awareness useful to problem solving in the real world. On a list of academics making policy decisions are Presidential Aide in the Clinton administration and prominent political scientist, Joseph Nye, and Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences recipient, Joseph Stiglitz. In contrast, in Japan, there is a tendency that university education is relatively looked down on. But, analysis skills, for example, can't be mastered in practical work alone. If we don't make a society which uses people who have learnt systematic knowledge at graduate school and acquired a high level of professionalism, it will be difficult for Japan to compete internationally in the future.

In teaching students, I have personally felt the merit of systematic learning at university. Even at undergraduate level, when looking at exam answers, compared to their first and second years, students clearly show more analytical thinking and their quality of answers have improved in their third and fourth years. Also, they don't only learn facts and theory, but by having high quality students working hard and discussing matters such as verifying the validity of such theories, I feel their skills will grow even more.

Diverse professional graduate schools using Waseda's wealth

——What kind of professional graduate schools are at the university?

Currently, if classified in large groups, we have four professional graduate schools which cover all fields exemplified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The first is Waseda Law School. One can, of course, systematically acquire practical skills and professional knowledge required as a lawyer, but only our university offers a program where you can obtain American legal qualifications by attending one of our cooperating schools in America. The second is commerce related with MBA courses offered at Graduate School of Commerce (Waseda Business School), the Graduate School of Accountancy, and the Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law. The third is Okuma School of Public Management. Usually, officials from the national government, local governments, international organizations and NPO/NGO will come here to learn professional knowledge relating to administration and public policy. Current legislators are also enrolled here. The fourth is the Graduate School of Teacher Education. As a place aiming to raise school education leaders, education from the free stance of a private university is gaining attention, with many current teachers from primary, middle and senior high schools in attendance.

At the Law School and the Graduate School of Accountancy, it is required of most students to get a qualification, but at our university we don't just prepare them for qualifying examinations, we also put major focus on nurturing skills that become the foundations for becoming useful workers in the real world.

Each school has merits of having a diverse range of students, teachers and subjects available in large scale schools, and starting with preeminent libraries in Japan and a graduate network, it can be said that the numerous assets Waseda has behind it is the great strength.

——What are your plans for the future?

Raise the level of education even more. Each professional graduate school is operating with high ideals, but, in the end, the quality of education is evaluated on the efforts shown by graduates. I think we have to double our efforts in the future so, in ten years from now, Waseda professional graduate school graduates will be said to be indispensable to society.

Aiji Tanaka
General Executive Director, Academic Affairs Division, Waseda University

Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Economics. Born in 1951. After graduating from the Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University, he received his doctorate from the Political Science Research Department, Ohio State University Graduate School (PhD in Political Science.) Leader of the Global COE base "Political Science System Building". Has worked as Dean of Academic Affairs and Waseda Portal Office Chief. Took up his current position in November, 2010.