Our Philosophy and Academic Goals

Educational Principles

The Graduate School of Arts and Letters sustains and promotes specialized research in the humanities and social sciences. It therefore involves a wide range of fields with a multitude of research subjects and methodologies: from human and historical sciences relying on analysis of written sources to empirical sciences driven by surveys and scientific experiments. Nevertheless, these multifarious fields are united by their common quest into the nature of humanity.

The humanity these days faces new difficult issues as advanced industrial technologies bring about rapid changes in society. Solving these problems requires knowledge and imagination accumulated and cultivated by the humanities and social sciences. Multifaceted elaborate understanding of the ‘humanity’ is necessary, if we wish to unravel entangled values and outlooks and determine the most benevolent conditions for the humanity, that is, the way to achieve universal ‘well-being’.

In order to answer this need, the Graduate School of Arts and Letters promotes advanced theoretical and empirical research in all fields. This research also lies at the core of sophisticated education, which pursues the following goals: 1) to foster high-level specialists able to actively expand and enrich the intellectual heritage of the humanities and social sciences, 2) to cultivate professionals who will rely on their erudition, deep understanding of human beings and humanity to support the healthy development of society.

In addition to pursuing cutting-edge research in their chosen area, the GSAL graduates must be able to transcend disciplinary and regional confines and determine the significance and potential of their academic field from a wide perspective. They must also possess wisdom and insight that will allow them to employ ‘knowledge’ for the advancement of humanity under all circumstances. It is therefore an essential goal for the GSAL to cultivate flexible and critical thinking through cross-disciplinary education.

Escalation of international mobility and changes in population demographics bring about increasing diversification of graduate students. In order to answer their individual needs and learning goals, the GSAL has created a common educational environment for Japanese and foreign students. It also continues to provide high-quality retraining opportunities for working professionals. Our ultimate goal is to foster individuals with keen insight into ‘humans’ and human ‘society’, who will be able to utilize both tolerance and flexible thinking to facilitate the sustainable development of human society.

Research Principles

Three departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Letters – Japanese Studies, Global Humanities, and Integrated Human Sciences – are committed to research on ‘humans’ and human ‘society’ from theoretical and practical standpoints. The common objectives of these departments are the continued development of fundamental knowledge, promotion of advanced interdisciplinary research on the global level, and application of the research results for the benefit of society. These goals are elaborated below.

  1. History of research in the humanities and social sciences is long and rich with discoveries. This fundamental knowledge must be efficiently preserve and develop from a long-term perspective. It is equally important to preserve and maintain research results and materials in a systematic manner.
  2. It is also necessary to develop novel academic fields that will address new issues brought about by changing times and to advance cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary research through international collaboration.
  3. Finally, the core mission of the GSAL is to support the sustainable development of humanity by utilizing the accumulated discoveries for the benefit of society.

Each department seeks to achieve the following research goals.

  1. The Department of Japanese Studies aims to advance both basic and practical research in areas such as linguistics, philosophy, history, sociology, and studies in literature. It also promotes pioneering Japan-related research with emphasis on comprehensive approach, interdisciplinarity and international exchange.
  2. The Department of Global Humanities aims to supply globalized society with reliable knowledge through methodologically grounded area studies based on analysis of literature and historical sources. It also utilizes interregional research to solve various problems of the contemporary society.
  3. The Department of Integrated Human Sciences aims to establish a practical academic discipline instrumental in designing effective projects for social improvement. To this end, the department pursues organic integration of theoretical and empirical research, as well as cross-disciplinary fusion of the humanities with natural sciences.

Policies Concerning Degrees, Curricula and Admission

Policy Concerning Degrees

Master's program

The Master's degree of the Tohoku University Graduate School of Arts and Letters is awarded to students who meet the following requirements:

Students of the Department of Japanese Studies must achieve outstanding results in the research field of their choice (Japanese philosophy, language, literature or history) and be able to employ their findings, professional expertise and multifaceted knowledge of Japan to tackle various issues on both local and global level. First and foremost, they must acquire skills and outlook that will allow them to address other people’s interest in Japan and to advance intercultural understanding.

Students of the Department of Global Humanities must achieve outstanding results in the research field of their choice (such as Religious Studies, Cultural Anthropology, or regional studies of various Asian and European countries), as well as gain excellent language skills and acute understanding of different cultures. Furthermore, they must be capable of facilitating the development of multicultural society with global perspective as their guiding principle.

Students of the Department of Integrated Human Sciences must achieve outstanding results in the research field of their choice (in the areas of philosophy, art sciences, sociology, psychology, or linguistics). In addition, they are expected to master advanced research skills and broad interdisciplinary outlook. Finally, students must be able to critically engage with and contribute to formation and development of sustainable society.

Doctoral program

The Doctoral degree of the Tohoku University Graduate School of Arts and Letters is awarded to students who meet the following requirements. Students must develop sufficient competence and skills to independently conduct original research in their respective fields and achieve excellent research results. Students must also be able to actively participate in intellectual exchange on the international level and possess broad understanding of the humanities and social sciences beyond their own field of study. Finally, students must be able to utilize those qualities as researchers and professionals in order to promote the well-being of human society.

Policy Concerning Curricula

Master's program

Graduates of the GSAL master’s program are expected to fulfil the requirements outlined in the diploma policy. The education at the GSAL master’s program is therefore organized and implemented according to the following principles.

Students of the Department of Japanese Studies are required to carry out research in one of the Japan-related fields with emphasis on multidisciplinarity and internationalization. Students of the Department of Global Humanities are required to study one of the European or Asian regions, with their research informed by cultural theory and designed to benefit human society. Students of the Department of Integrated Human Sciences are required to develop theoretically and empirically grounded pioneering studies on human beings based on interdisciplinary, critical approach.

All students will receive exhaustive learning guidance under the multi-advisor system in order to successfully achieve the aforementioned educational goals, gain professional knowledge and skills related to their respective specialties, engage deeply with their research subject and complete their master’s course and master’s degree.

All lectures, seminars and field work will be conducted under the semester system. Furthermore, an overview of the entire range of specialized fields in every department will be provided through comprehensive courses, while common courses will allow students develop creative thinking and other skills and competences indispensable in the era of globalization. The GSAL students will be trained to become high-level professionals and specialists.

Doctoral program

Graduates of the GSAL doctoral program are expected to fulfil the requirements outlined in the diploma policy. The education at the GSAL doctoral program is therefore organized and implemented according to the following principles.

Students of the Department of Japanese Studies will extend and deepen their multidisciplinary and internationally oriented research in one of the Japan-related fields. Students of the Department of Global Humanities will continue to assist human society by researching one of the European or Asian regions from the cultural theory standpoint. Students of the Department of Integrated Human Sciences will maintain interdisciplinary and critical approach as they continue pioneer theoretical-empirical studies on human beings. All students will receive professional research guidance in order to amass expertise and skills necessary for independent and original research in their respective fields and to gain competence on par with international research standards. They will also be encouraged to train and promote their research overseas. By the end of their education, the GSAL students will develop highly professional attitude that will allow them to assess significance and purpose of their research projects in relation to current social issues and scholarly research in general.

Admission Policy

Master's program

Graduates of the GSAL master’s program will become cutting-edge researchers in the humanities and social sciences capable of preserving and advancing academic knowledge in their specialty fields, as well as high-level professionals ready to utilize their specialized knowledge and global outlook in tackling various problems of contemporary society.

An applicant for the master’s program must demonstrate keen interest and spirit of inquiry towards research areas of the corresponding department: Japanese philosophy, language, literature or history (Department of Japanese Studies); basic theory of culture in general or culture of a specific European or Asian region (Department of Global Humanities); theoretical studies and empirical research on humans and human society (Department of Integrated Human Sciences). The applicant must also excel in problem discovery and logical thinking, and possess basic knowledge and academic ability necessary to complete education in his or her specialized field. Admission is determined by the screening of the applicants’ previous research accomplishments, such as a BA thesis, and by the results of written and oral exams designed to test applicants’ specialized knowledge, research and communicative skills, foreign language proficiency, and motivation.

Doctoral program

Graduates of the GSAL doctoral program will become high-level professionals with broad interdisciplinary outlook able to accomplish original, productive research in various fields of the humanities and social sciences and effectively utilize their discoveries for the benefit of human society. Applicants who wish to enter the doctoral program must therefore conform to the following criteria. Through their previous education and research they must have acquired general knowledge of humans, human society and culture. They must also possess sufficient expertise and skills to pursue independent professional research in their specialized fields. Finally, applicants must be determined to grow as professionals through education received at the GSAL. Admission is determined by the screening of the applicants’ previous research accomplishments (theses, etc.), and by the results of written and oral exams designed to test applicants’ specialized knowledge, research competence, communicative skills and motivation.