An Insider’s Look Into the English Programs at Kyoto University’s Economics Department — PART 1

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The author is a current Masters Degree student in the English Economics Program in her second year, so 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 Programme for East Asia Sustainable Economic Development Studies.”

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

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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.

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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 abroad, and increase the number of students sent abroad on inter-university agreements.

In 2013, there were over 16,169 foreign students 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 others students. Besides myself, we have another Chinese young 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 each and every one of them has an interesting 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.

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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.

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

In Conclusion

Thank you very much for reading the Part 1 of this article. In the next article, I will share more about the pros and cons of the programs, requirements, as well as why I chose this program versus others.