Tohoku University

Future Global Leadership Program

Degree Courses Taught in English

25th Wed 18:14:24 UTC    26th Thu 03:14:24 Asia/Tokyo

International Postgraduate Program in Human Security

・Graduate School of Agricultural Science
・Graduate School of Medicine
・Graduate School of International Cultural Studies
・Graduate School of Environmental Studies

Degrees Offerred:
・Master of Agricultural Science, Doctor of Philosophy (Agricultural Science)
・Master of Medical Science
・Master of International Cultural Studies, Doctor of Philosophy (International Cultural Studies)
・Master of Environmental Studies, Master of Interdisciplinary Studies, Doctor of Philosophy (Environmental Studies)

Number of students: 8 for master’s students and 3 for doctoral students
Admission: April, October
Campus: Amamiya, Seiryo, Kawauchi, and Aobayama

General inquiries

Admission inquiries:
Agricultural Science
International Cultural Studies
Environmental Studies

Special Report: A Personal Touch to Lecturing

Meet the Students!

Innovative Program for the Betterment of Humankind

The issue of human security has risen to the top of the global agenda since the end of the Cold War, largely superseding the traditional concept of national security. At Tohoku University, four graduate schools, utilizing their specialties, are cooperating in research and education on such topics as the disparities between rich and poor, environmental degradation, food safety, and public health. Tohoku University launched a course taught in English in 2005 for international students to foster researchers with the expertise and determination to tackle human security issues.

A Course that Fosters Leaders

The International Postgraduate Program in Human Security was established by Tohoku University in April 2005 with the goal of contributing to people’s security by tackling such fundamental issues as food shortages, poor public health, lack of education and social conflicts.

Professor Hitoshi Yonekura

Professor Hitoshi Yonekura

Four of Tohoku University’s graduate schools have joined forces to make this course taught in English a success. Integrating their faculty resources and research skills, they offer an interdisciplinary research program designed to endow highly motivated postgraduate students from overseas and Japan with the expertise required to become effective leadersU+2014whether in their own countries or internationally, working as experts, researchers, thinkers and professionals capable of identifying and tackling obstacles to the achievement of a secure way of life to which people throughout the world aspire.

The four schools are the Graduate School of Agricultural Science, the Graduate School of Medicine, the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies, and the Graduate School of Environmental Studies. By pooling their expertise and resources, they have created a program that covers the fields of food and agriculture, public health, society, and the environment.

Students Motivated to Make a Difference for the Betterment of Society

One of the most important requirements for applicants is to have a keen interest in dealing with the issues of poverty, poor health and social conflict that blight the world. The program is designed with students from developing countries in mind who wish to devote themselves to problem-solving in the cause of improved human security.

Prior to enrollment for the master’s course, applicants typically must be graduates of a university or have completed 16 years of education. Applicants for the doctoral course typically must have acquired a master’s degree prior to enrollment.

Applicants should also have an excellent level of English and obtain a score of at least 550 on the TOEFL Paper-based Test.

Each of the four participating graduate schools accepts two master’s students and one doctoral student, with the exception of the Graduate School of Medicine, which accepts two master’s students only.

Each graduate school (Agriculture, Medicine, International Cultural Studies and Environmental Studies) conducts its own admission examination. Therefore, applicants need to confirm the application deadline with the school to which they are applying. The documents required include university transcripts and a research proposal.

The graduate schools’ contact information and more details on procedures can be found in the Human Security brochure ( Detailed information on enrollment, will be provided together with the notification of acceptance.

Four Areas of Study

The International Postgraduate Program in Human Security consists of four fields of study: Food & Agriculture, Public Health, Society, and the Environment. Each field is headed by the corresponding graduate school, which provides a curriculum designed to cover the various issues and problems relating to its field, as outlined in the following synopses.

Food & Agriculture: Focuses on food security at the national and household level, including research on sustainable farming and on rural development and institutions.

Public Health: Focuses on preventable deaths, as well as factors contributing to infectious diseases, disasters, and patient safety among other issues.

Society: Focuses on problems undermining security, including human rights violations, gender bias, and the status of refugees.

Environment: Focuses on changes in the environment that impact people’s lives, including changes to the soil, ecosystems, and water.

To graduate from the 2-year master course, students are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits. Each of the graduate schools provides two subjects for the common category (core program). There are eight subjects in the common category. Students must take a minimum of five or six subjects (depending on the field of study) from the common category. Typical common subjects include Food Economics, International Health, Human Security and Global Society and Hydro-Environment Studies (see Table 1).

In addition, each graduate school requires its master’s students to obtain the same credits in the student’s major category, which includes the master’s thesis (see Table 1). A program certificate (in addition to the master’s degree) will be issued to students who complete subjects for the certificate (the exact number of subjects is determined by the graduate school in which the student is enrolled).

To graduate from the 3-year doctoral course, students are required to obtain credits by taking subjects and seminars in their major field of study and presenting a doctoral thesis (see Table 2). The number of subjects and credits will be decided by the graduate school in which the student is enrolled.

All students will have the opportunity to attend special lectures given by speakers from Japan and overseas, with each school arranging study tours appropriate for the student’s major. Students with sufficient Japanese language ability may also take subjects at their school taught in Japanese.

First-year students can take advantage of a tutorial system whereby Japanese students act as tutors to help them settle into the academic community at Tohoku University and into life in Sendai.

Emphasis on Practical Research

“The Human Security Program is now in its fifth year,” says Professor Hitoshi Yonekura of the Department of Resources and Environmental Economics at the Graduate School of Agriculture. “And we see human security becoming a more influential paradigm with every passing year.”

Each graduate school provides its own special courses for students enrolled in the Human Security Program. In the School of Agricultural Science, for instance, the fields of study are International Development Studies, Agricultural Economics and Management, and Field Science and Technology for Society.

International Development Studies focuses on developing countries, particularly on rural development in Southeast Asia.

“Right now we are looking at rural poverty in these regions, as well as resource management in local communities,” says Yonekura. To do this, he and his students have conducted economic surveys of households in several Indonesian villages. They have analyzed the data collected, such as household income and expenses, and used the results “to study why these people are so poor.”

Agricultural Economics and Management primarily looks at farm management in Japan. Students analyze farm and food management systems and conduct cost-benefit studies of rural projects.

The Human Security Program also works hard to find internships for students both in Japan and overseas with companies, governmental bodies, and international aid organizations. “This is a good way to get practical training,” says Yonekura. “And there is always the possibility of interns being recruited for permanent positions.”

Yonekura emphasizes that the faculty members are keen to make the Human Security Program as practical as possible. “We arrange for students to leave the campus for fieldwork where they can get hands-on experience while pursuing their studies,” he says. “And not only in Japan, but also overseas. We’ve sent students to the Philippines and Indonesia, for example, to study in the field and learn from reality.”

The Indonesia Linkage Program

Tohoku University is also a participant in the Indonesia Linkage Program funded by the Indonesian government. Japanese universities participating in the program accept students from five Indonesian universities and institutes. Tohoku University accepts up to four students each year from Brawijaya University in East Java.

“This is a double-degree program, so Brawijaya University awards a master’s degree to the students and so does Tohoku University,” says Yonekura.

All four students join the Human Security Program. They study at Brawijaya for the first year and complete an early draft of their thesis. Then they come to Tohoku University in the second year. Upon completion of the program and their thesis, they are awarded a master’s degree and a program certificate from Tohoku University.

“These students are usually Indonesian local government officials,” says Yonekura. “A typical thesis would be on environmental protection or the livelihood of local communities. With this program we aim to increase the skills of these local government officials so that when they return home they will be able to develop human security programs in their own communities. That’s why the Indonesian government sponsors this Linkage Program.”

Yonekura adds that it is the hope of all faculty members that graduating foreign students will return to their countries with fond memories of Japan and then pursue careers in which they will be able to work for human security.


Table 1: Master Curriculum

Table 2: Doctoral Curriculum

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