History and unique features
The University of Tsukuba was established in 1973 as the first comprehensive university in post-WWII Japan to spearhead nation-wide university reform policy. The main campus is located in the northern part of Tsukuba City, 60 km northeast of Tokyo with one of the largest campuses of the country (2,700 hectares). The City center is only 45 minutes from Tokyo by train or bus. There are direct bus services to the Narita International Airport, the Haneda Airport, and Tokyo Disneyland!
The University has emphasized openness, innovative systems for education and research, and new university self-governance in undertaking the reform policy. Through its unique curriculum and research incentives, it has cultivated many leaders and scholars with advanced knowledge. The size of the University has expanded since its foundation and, as of May 2016, 9,909 undergraduate students and 6,743 graduate students are studying in degree programs. Among them were 1,759 international students from 110 countries. The total number of faculty members is 2,895.
We have always strived to be a unique, active, and internationally competitive university with superlative education and research facilities. Our effort has proved to be successful as the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology recognized in 2009 our University as one of the thirteen “leading universities” in Japan. As of 2015, the University has produced three Nobel Prize laureates in physics and chemistry along with many distinguished scholars in sciences and humanities. Our distinguished kinesiology and sports department has produced several Olympic medalists.
Another distinctive characteristic of the University is to have many affiliated universities and several overseas offices throughout the world. As of June 2016, there are more than 322 MOUs, which encompass 62 countries.
Tsukuba — the Science City
Tsukuba City is known as “Science City,” as it houses more than 290 leading research institutions or 40% of Japan’s research institutions. These include the National Institute for Environmental Studies, the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. In addition, several private research institutions are located in Tsukuba. A close collaboration has been established between these research institutions and the University of Tsukuba through joint course/program at graduate levels such as the Cooperative Graduate School System for the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences and the Doctoral Program in Sustainable Environmental Studies with the National Institute for Environmental Studies.
The University of Tsukuba has the on-campus industrial liaison center, which facilitates R&D cooperation between academic institutions and a number of on-campus venture companies. As of 2016, 93 ventures are operating on campus (e.g., software, biomass conversion substances of biological resources, and medical analysis equipment). The University also has about 30 inter-department education institutes, including the Agricultural and Forestry Research Center, the Terrestrial Environment Center, the Shimoda Marine Research Center, and the Gene Research Center.
The Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences was established in 2000 by incorporating five preexisting graduate programs: Structural Biosciences, Functional Biosciences, Appropriate Technology and Science for Sustainable Development, Biosphere Resource Science and Technology, and Life Sciences and Bioengineering. The founding concept was to nurture researchers and train practicing professionals in the field of basic, applied and interdisciplinary studies in earth, life and environmental sciences.
Since then the Graduate School has expanded by adding more programs, including the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences, which was originally established as the first graduate school in Japan on environmental studies. This program has uniquely merged science-technology studies with arts and humanities. The strength of this program is also seen in its diverse field-oriented internship studies in Japan and overseas.
The Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences offers nine doctoral programs and four master's programs with more than two hundred full-time faculty members. Of these programs, the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences has accepted JDS Fellows since 2007. Interdisciplinary education and research institutions, international cooperation and international competency are important goals of this Graduate School.
1. Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences
(a) Building the Foundation
After admission, JDS Fellows will belong to the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences, and they will set out the process of acquiring master’s degree in environmental sciences in two years. In order to receive the degree, they need to acquire 30 credits or more from the courses that are recognized by the Master’s Program. They also complete master’s thesis and pass oral examination as partial fulfillment of the degree requirement.
One unique aspect of our Master’s Program is that compulsory seminar and fieldwork courses encompass wide-ranging topics, including hydrology, meteorology, forestry, ecology, agricultural sciences, biology, environmental engineering, waste management, environmental economy, soil sciences, remote sensing, history, and environmental ethics. Here students have rare opportunities to understand that rural/urban development and environmental issues are interconnected. This education process is uniquely heightened by a set of field activities, in which students learn how to examine some specific case in the field within this interconnected context.
(b) Road to Becoming Leader/Expert
With this basic training as their intellectual foundation, students then focus on some specific topics for their research interests. Here JDS Fellows can choose to take a certificate program, “Sustainability Science, Technology, and Policy (SUSTEP),” which aims to foster science communication skills with broader interdisciplinary understanding.
The SUSTEP Program developed as a result of 8 years of past experience in administering 4 certificate programs. After completing requirements, a student will receive a certificate and supplement. The supplement verifies the contents of inductee’s learning history, including GPS.
Another distinctive feature of the our certificate program is that students have rare opportunities to meet and interact with distinguished leaders and experts from not only Japan but also Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and other countries at seminars the SUSTEP Program organizes a few times a year. Through these opportunities, JDS Fellows can establish international networks that can benefit their future career development. In addition, the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences has established a consortium with graduate schools in Asia, Europe and Latin America that stimulates JDS Fellows’ research progress. In 2015, the SUSTEP Program joined the world-wide university network, “the Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES),” which is one of UNEP’s flagship programs. As part of membership activities, we send a number of students to Tongji University each year for sustainability conference and workshops.
However, global leadership and expertise do not simply mean that students take courses and listen or go abroad for conferences. In our degree program, JDS Fellows actively participate in learning processes. We provide courses that foster their presentation, writing and debating skills in English. The quality of these courses can match the ones at North American graduate schools. In addition, JDS Fellows have opportunities to present their research topics and engage in debates at international internships in Asia. These opportunities have successfully enhanced the confidence and international competitiveness of our past JDS Fellows. The SUSTEP program also offers the academic writing support center, which provides professional support and advice for JDS Fellows and other students in writing in English. In addition, JDS Fellows can take academic writing seminars for writing reports and journal articles in English.
2. Our JDS Specials: Tailor-Made Program
Our educational activities for the JDS Special Program have focused and will focus on four major areas: (1) academic seminar, (2) overseas seminars and field surveys, (3) internship trips in Japan, and (4) the improvement of the educational environment. Each year the SUSTEP Committee of the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences discuss and decide detailed plans for seminars and activities that meet the needs of JDS Fellows each year. All Fellows will receive guidance about how their special program is going to be administered. This “tailor-made” practice has become norm among our committee members.
(1) For the international seminar, we invite distinguished experts from renowned universities or research institutions. We select these speakers on the basis of not only their name value but also their educational merit. In this seminar, JDS Fellows not only listen to lectures but present their research topics. The students then receive comments on their presentations from these guest experts so that the Fellows can improve their researches and capacities. This interaction also means to expand the Fellows’ academic networks, which can be useful after their graduation.
(2) If necessary, JDS Fellows will travel to the country/region to enhance knowledge about their theses research topics with at least one faculty member of the University of Tsukuba. There they learn how to conduct research and survey for data collection. Also, faculty members will establish/maintain the network with JDS alumni in order to self-evaluate the effectiveness of our JDS Special Program. This will provide opportunity to improve our program for JDS Fellows.
(3) The SUSTEP program committee will organize domestic internships that meet the research interests of JDS Fellows each year. In the past, we have taken JDS Fellows to places where they could observe and examine the issues that are related to Japanese rural development, biodiversity and Satoyama, local environmental conservation and traditional knowledge, the impact of mining developments, tourism and local economy, environmental disaster prevention and public works policies, climate change and energy problems.
(4) In the last five years, the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences has managed webpages that are specifically designed for JDS Fellows. The webpages have provided information for current JDS Fellows, graduates, and prospective Fellows. In 2012, the English version of the official website for the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences was renewed to enhance teaching capacity. In 2014, we uploaded another website for the SUSTEP program along with our promotion video (available also in YouTube). The video was made entirely by our students and faculty members. By using the websites, JDS and other students can now receive course information, reading materials and important news about courses. We intend to improve the quality of on-line accessibility and the education environment for JDS Fellows.
Another good news for upcoming JDS Fellows to our Program is that the entire building that our program uses (Natural Science Buildings) are completely renovated with enhanced earthquakes resistance and security. The Fellows have a free WiFi access in their study rooms. There is also a lounge space with kitchen facility. Laboratories and classrooms are designed for multiple purposes to facilitate group discussion or study.
For all students who belong to the Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences, the basic requirement for course work is to take 30 credits or more, including 18 credits from compulsory courses. Most of the compulsory courses are directly relevant to thesis completion, which is also required to complete the degree.
Compulsory Courses (Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences) (18 credits)
Elective Courses (Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences) (12 credits from below)
(1) Applied Environmental Ethics (Introduction to English Presentation and Debate);
(2) Climate System Study I;
(3) Climate System Study II;
(4) Cultural Ecology;
(5) Ecological Soil Resources;
(6) Environmental Analytical Chemistry;
(7) Environmental Field Appraisal;
(8) Environmental Health Perspective;
(9) Environmental Law;
(10) Environmental Microbiology;
(11) Environmental Policy Appraisal;
(12) Environmental Remote Sensing;
(13) Environmental Risk;
(14) Environmental Science Practicum I;
(15) Environmental Science Practicum II;
(16) Environmental Science Practicum III;
(17) Integrated Water Science and Technology;
(18) International Field Appraisal I;
(19) International Field Appraisal II;
(20) Introduction to Environmental Governance;
(21) Introduction to Environmental Policy;
(22) Introduction to Environmental Stress;
(23) Introduction to International Health;
(24) Introduction to Waste Management;
(25) Introduction to Water Environment;
(26) Integrated Water Science and Technology;
(27) Landscape Planning;
(28) Policy and Planning for Forest Conservation;
(29) Prevention and Mitigation of Sediment Disaster;
(30) Regional Air Pollution;
(31) Simulation of Environmental Policy;
(32) Soil and Water Environmental Colloid Science;
(33) Spatial Information Engineering in Environmental Science;
(34) Terrestrial Ecology;
(35) Utilization and Recycling of Bio-resources;
(36) Vegetation Science.
*In alphabetical order by course title.
Other Education Programs in English in the Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences
The List of Faculty Members as Potential Supervisors for JDS Fellows
*potential supervisors for JDS Fellows
Please see : http://www.envr.tsukuba.ac.jp/~jds/people03.html
ZHANG Zhen Ya*
|TAKAMI Akinori||TIN TIN Win Shwe|
|Cooperative Associate Professor|
|SUGATA Seiji||KOIKE Eiko||NAGASHIMA Tatsuya|
The Master’s Program in Environmental Sciences has adopted the advisory committee system for the instruction of individual study/research. The standard time frame for the completion of the Program is two years or four semesters. The following table shows the academic schedule that is applied to JDS Fellows:
|Pre-admission guidance (curriculum, campus life, etc.)
Domestic internship for all JDS Fellows (September)
|FIRST YEAR (October 2016-March 2017)|
|Fall semester (October-March)
|SECOND YEAR (April 2017-March 2018)|
|Spring semester (April-September)
|THIRD YEAR (April-September 2018)|
|Spring semester (April-September)
On the main Tsukuba campus, where JDS Fellows study, there are 60 student residence buildings, which can accommodate 4,000 persons (3,446 single rooms; 153 couple units; 250 family units). It is possible that all regular students, including JDS Fellows, can find a room. These housing complexes are conveniently located within the campus.
Library: The Best in Japan
The University of Tsukuba libraries hold more than 2,600,000 books (more than 1,022,062 foreign language books) and 31,687 journals (12,804 foreign language ones, mostly in English). This open-access holding is the largest in Japan. There are also 27 research databases and 25,721 e-journal/book titles (non-Japanese title 25,092). The library website uses OPAC search catalogue, which allows to explore all forms of information (e.g., newspaper articles, magazine, journal articles, and electronic resources) by simple keywords. Considering that Japanese libraries tend to have relatively small collection of books in English, our university libraries offer the best research conditions in English. The main library offers guidance for researchers and students in both English and Japanese (about 148 times a year).
International Student Center
The International Student Center of the University of Tsukuba is one of the largest international student support facilities among national universities in Japan, offering wide-ranging services. It offers a good range of courses on Japanese language and culture. Past JDS Fellows have taken some of these courses. Another service is the consultation for international students, including concerns about their job search and living. The Center’s full-time faculty members and office personnel regularly consult students. The Center also provides information and services for those who are interested in studying at the University of Tsukuba.
World-class Sport Facilities
The University of Tsukuba has provided world-class sport facilities for many Olympic athletes on campus. Not only Olympians but also many other athletes joined professional sports as well. Some of these facilities, including swimming pool, track fields, and gymnasiums are open to all students. Some JDS Fellows have regularly taken advantage of these facilities.
In June, those of us who have taught JDS Fellows in this master’s program come together and listen to JDS Fellows’ final presentations about their thesis researches. We recollect then how these Fellows started their studies. Some of them looked anxious without fully comprehending what was expected in graduate education for “masters.” Now, in less than two years, we see that the Fellows can communicate with us about their research results in English almost fluently. We also see confidence in their faces. All audiences, including faculty members, now listen to them carefully and learn from their presentations. We see that the Fellows now have much larger capacities, knowledge, and insights than they did two years ago. If you decide to join us, this is probably what you expect to see yourself in two years, a very small fraction of your lifetime.
Ms. Phetsila KHAMTHONGVEUN
(JDS 2008-2010, Bank of the Lao P.D.R.)
The University of Tsukuba is one of the leading academic universities for highly achieving students studying in Japan. It facilitates courses for international students and a yearly review and refresher for them.
The professors, staff and students in International Area Studies are passionate and gracious. Professors not only supervise academic progress but career development as well. The staff is cooperative and supportive and the student group has a strong feeling of solidarity, as we loved sharing experiences and culture and supporting other. Beyond studying in the university campus, we also had the opportunity to explore the study tours in famous places in Japan for an in-depth understanding of Japanese history and culture in Okinawa and Hokkaido. The scene of the cherry blossom and the fascinating trail of the trees surrounding the campus are all unforgettable for me.
In terms of the benefit of studying in Japan; it boosted my confidence, increased my self-awareness for responsibilities and professional development. So, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Japanese Government (JICA) for supporting the scholarship to Lao PDR and to thank the Lao Government for giving me this wonderful chance to study in Japan.