Comparative Study on Graduate Education for a Knowledge-Based Society

HOME > Comparative Study on Graduate Education for a Knowledge-Based Society

Comparative Study on Graduate Education for a Knowledge-Based Society

Comparative Study on Graduate Education for a Knowledge-Based Society

Project Number 20H01693
Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B)
Principal Investigator:Hideto Fukudome


Working Paper
  • No.1 A Comparative Study of Financial Aid for Doctoral Students in Japan and the United States

Dounload PDF

  • No.2 The Impact of COVID-19 on Doctoral Programs in the United States 

 Dounload PDF

  • No.3 What did Harvard University Do in 2020?;In the Face of Double Crises of the Trump Administration and COVID-19
    Yoshiyuki Shimizu

Dounload PDF


Purpose of this study

In the modern era, graduate schools are positioned as important educational and research institutions that support the globalizing knowledge-based society and the lifelong learning society that is advancing amidst the declining birthrate and aging population. Japanese society has advanced and diverse learning needs, and it is an important issue for universities to function as intellectual and academic institutions and produce human resources that contribute to building a prosperous society, while effectively meeting these needs. Based on international comparisons, this study aims to identify the mission that graduate school education should fulfill in Japanese society in the near future and the specific form it should take, and to explore measures to realize this mission.

For about 70 years since the establishment of the new graduate school system after World War II, graduate school reform has been sought. Especially since the 1990s, graduate schools have been expanding quantitatively and making dramatic qualitative improvements. At the same time, graduate schools, whose role had traditionally been to train researchers, have expanded their functions to develop a wide range of human resources other than researchers. At the same time, however, even amidst these changes and functional expansions, the issues that have been pointed out in the past have not been overcome, and the issues surrounding graduate schools are becoming more complex in the midst of new developments. In the process of reform, the U.S.-style graduate school has always been positioned as a model, and when professional graduate schools were established, the U.S. professional schools were also taken into consideration. In reality, there are significant institutional and social differences between Japan and the U.S., but the pursuit of U.S.-style graduate schools has been pursued without sufficient attention to these differences.


Features of the research

As described above, this research will engage in international comparative research that will contribute to the near-future development of graduate education, which is becoming increasingly important as the knowledge-based society and lifelong learning society progresses. The outline and characteristics of this research are as follows.

(1) “Empirical international comparison”: While there has been strong interest in Japan-U.S. comparisons of graduate education, this study will (1) utilize data not previously available, (2) collaborate with university associations to understand trends in the U.S., and (3) collaborate with researchers at individual universities to accumulate qualitative research to empirically clarify the actual situation in the U.S., and through this, to compare the U.S. with Japan. (3) To empirically clarify the actual situation in the U.S. by conducting a series of qualitative studies in cooperation with researchers at individual universities, and to highlight the characteristics of Japanese graduate schools through these studies.

(2) “Integrated understanding of the human resource development objectives of graduate schools”: Graduate schools have multiple human resource development functions, which are often discussed separately. In this study, we will discuss graduate programs in an integrated manner from the perspective of emphasizing the organization of various functions at the institutional level.

(3) “Research organization with diverse members”: Graduate schools are educational institutions based on specialized fields, and it is necessary to take into account the characteristics and context of each specialty. This study will be composed of researchers with diverse professional backgrounds. In addition, we will obtain cooperation from a wide range of overseas co-researchers.



Research Project

This study will empirically clarify the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of Japanese graduate schools and explore future improvement measures by carefully reexamining the systems and actual conditions of graduate schools in Japan and the United States. The research topics are as follows: 1.

1) “Examination of graduate education programs by function”: In the training of researchers, Japan has a master’s degree and a doctoral degree program, while the U.S. has an integrated doctoral degree program without a master’s degree. However, these institutional differences have not been fully recognized, and only narrow specialization has been the subject of criticism, leading to the policy recommendation of an integrated doctoral program. However, even today, the integrated doctoral program has not spread. In addition, professional graduate schools tend to emphasize practical education by practitioner faculty members, but in the United States, practitioner faculty members are virtually nonexistent in some fields. It is necessary to discuss how the integration of practical education and academic education should be structured, including the connection with the labor market in each field.

2. “Differentiation and integration among human resource development functions”: Some of the above functions should be designed separately, while others can function effectively when multiple functions are designed in an integrated manner. This is determined by the knowledge and abilities to be acquired, the relationship with the market, and the scale of the program. In this study, we will clarify the actual situation of differentiation and fusion among functions in each field of expertise. We will then pursue effective programs and organizations in terms of program design, faculty and student organizations, degrees, and post-completion careers. 3.

3. “Attributes of Graduate Students and Student Support”: With the declining birthrate, the location of society’s knowledge and learning needs are diversifying. Graduate schools are expected to meet a wide range of needs and become institutions that contribute to the intellectual advancement of society. Professional schools in the U.S., depending on the field of study, are largely composed of part-time students who are still employed. Even in doctoral programs for training researchers, it is common for students to study while earning a living through fellowships and assistantships. In this study, we will examine the attributes of students who study at Japanese graduate schools, based on an accurate understanding of the actual situation in the U.S. and taking into consideration the differences between Japan and the U.S. Furthermore, we will examine the attributes of students who study at Japanese graduate schools in terms of their academic and financial support. Furthermore, we will examine how their studies and financial support should be provided, and explore ways to balance graduate school and work, or to ensure a smooth transition.