Preamble

The author is a current Masters Degree student in the English Economics Program in her second year so that it will be written from her perspective. The opinions that are shared in this article are only one person’s point of view, and are entirely meant to help provide potential candidates with insider information that cannot yet be found online or is challenging to find online.

What is the Official Title of the Program?

The title of the program is extraordinarily long, so no one seems to use the official title. Instead, when we reference the program colloquially, we say we are part of the “EA Program.”

The official title is “International Graduate Program for East Asia Sustainable Economic Development Studies.”

Why Was This English Economics (EA Program) and Others like it Established?

Historically, Japan has been a homogenous country that prides itself on having a safe, hospitable, and friendly environment for tourists. Since it is a tiny country and for a variety of other reasons, the Japanese government has historically been anti-immigration, offering very few venues for foreign people to live here indefinitely.

Unfortunately, Japan has finally recognized its double dilemma — an aging population, mixed with an incredibly low birth rate. As a result, the government decided in 2014 to begin “internationalizing” the top national universities, in an attempt to attract more top, foreign talent to Japan. After all, with an aging population and declining birth rate, the available labor force is also subsequently, decreasing.

Top global university in Japan ranking
https://tgu.mext.go.jp/en/universities/index.html

The Top Global Universities Program is a result of the Japanese government’s efforts to try and increase its schools’ international rankings, while also encouraging more top global talent to study and research in Japan. Furthermore, it has a wide range of goals to help broaden the scope of programs available for both foreign and Japanese students, increase the number of foreign professors, or Japanese professors who have received a degree overseas, and increase the number of students sent abroad on inter-university agreements.

The statistics of Foreign Universities
https://tgu.mext.go.jp/en/about/index.html

In 2013, over 16, 169 foreign students were studying in Japan. By 2023, the Japanese government plans to increase the number to 761,622.

Who are the Participants in This EA Program at Kyoto University?

I joined this school in October 2017, with 12 other students. Besides myself, we have another young Chinese woman who was born in America, and as a result, has American citizenship.

Then we have a Japanese ethnic student, who grew up in the Philippines and Canada, as well as a half-Japanese and half-Filipino student, Kazumi.

Over half of the program’s participants are from China, but every one of them has an impressive background and story. We also have one student from Indonesia, and one from Kazakhstan.

Moreover, the EA Program was officially launched in 2009 under Professor Hisano’s direction, and have now had over 80 students from a diverse set of countries.

Why Does this EA Program at Kyoto University Start in October Versus April?

Traditionally, all schools in Japan start in April. However, on the international level, most schools traditionally start in the September or October timeframe.

A beautiful tree in front of Kyoto university's campus
https://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/

Some of the English programs at Kyoto University, start in April, whereas, this English EA Economics particular program begins in October. I assume that, when possible, the government attempted to create programs that mimicked the international schedule, versus the Japanese schedule.

Why Did I Chose the EA Program at Kyoto University Versus the English Management School’s IPROMAC  Program at Kyoto University?

Kyotou University research news home web page
https://www.gsm.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/admission-information/admission-guidelines.html

After many conversations with my Professor, Chihiro Suematsu, and students who were part of the IPROMAC program at Kyoto University, I decided that the English EA Economics Program was the best for me, because of the ability to spend more time researching (with half the number of units necessary to graduate compared to the English Management School’s IPROMAC. 

What are the Application Requirements for the English Economics Masters Degree Program at Kyoto University?

The Master’s Degree requirements are subject to change, so it’s always best to refer to the website. Here is the website for the English Economics Masters Degree Program Application

Different View from Kyoto University
http://www.econ.kyoto-u.ac.jp/kueac/application/doctoral/

What are the Application Requirements for the English Economics PhD Degree Program at Kyoto University?

The PhD Degree requirements are subject to change, so it’s always best to refer to the website. Here is the website for the English Economics PhD Degree Program Application.

What are the Best Elements About This EA Program at Kyoto University?

Honestly, the best thing about this program is the freedom to choose a topic that you are genuinely passionate about, as long as you can prove during the interviews that it relates to sustainability. Also, you don’t necessarily have to research a topic that relates to Japan. In fact, some students are researching GMO crops in the Philippines.

In my case, I argued that empowering women with more career options in Japan, whether it’s starting entrepreneurship or returning to the workplace after having a child, is sustainable. Why? Because if women have the ability to run their own business under their own terms, then they can more easily manage both a household and a career. Furthermore, the Japanese government is actively promoting both women’s entrepreneurship in Japan, as well as programs to help women re-enter the workforce after having a child, or even getting married. After all, Japan’s economy will continue to shrink, if it does not have a viable, healthy, and robust workforce.

Women's empowerment and gender equality home page
https://juliegramlich.org/entrepreneurs/

Historically, Japanese women have left the workforce after getting married, and especially after having a child. There are many societal pressures for women to choose to stay at home to raise the children, take care of the household finances, and take care of the elderly parents.

However, the times are changing, due to the rapidly shrinking workforce, and the stagnant salaries, making it more of a requirement for women to work outside of the house. Currently, many women are working at part-time jobs with no benefits or upward mobility. But at least, they are working and have that option.

What is Something that Could be Changed About This EA Program at Kyoto University?

Nothing is perfect in life. And there’s a common saying that private school students in California are hand-fed career counseling, scholarship options, college admissions help, etc. on a silver spoon; whereas, public school students must fight tooth-and-nail for information about scholarships and admission information by dealing with bureaucratic administrations. But this is positive too, as public school students are forced to take the initiative to get things done, and must consistently be their own advocate.

Likewise, Kyoto University as its thorny edges, but if you prevail, you will be all the more victorious. Sometimes, it takes courage; sometimes it takes persistence. Overall, it teaches you how to be your own advocate and different forms of negotiation. After all, no individual, company, institution, system, or country is perfect, so we all must learn how to work with imperfections.

And on the bright side, you may even be taught by a Nobel Prize winner, or at least be able to attend a lecture. What more can you ask for?

In Conclusion

Thank you very much for reading my article. On my article, I talked about the pros and cons of the programs, requirements, as well as why I chose this program versus others.