Message from the Dean

Makoto Ariga
Dean of the Graduate School of Security Studies

The Graduate School of Security Studies at the National Defense Academy is Japan's first academic and research institute-equivalent to a typical Master's and Doctor's degrees program-focusing on security studies. Academic training and research of the Master's degree program began at the Graduate School in April 1997, and the 1st Doctor's degree program starts their studies in the spring of 2009.

The Master's degree program at the Graduate School offers two courses: an International Security course and a Strategic Sciences course. The main subject groups are Common Basic Subjects (5 subjects, such as Security Studies), Subjects for the International Security Course (11 subjects, such as International Conflicts), Subjects for the Strategic Sciences Course (11 subjects, including Military Organizations), and Related Applied Subjects (8 subjects, including Defense Economics). Subjects taken by each student are slightly different depending on the course taken; however, all subjects are open to the students regardless of their course. In addition, the School offers General Research Subjects (8 subjects; General Research I, etc.) to help students with research for their graduation thesis. Each student must take two General Research subjects and will receive guidance on writing a thesis.

Students are required to earn 30 credits in two years from 34 subjects (each with 2 credits) in the aforementioned subject groups and the General Research subjects (each with 4 credits) and to complete a graduation thesis. Upon passing the thesis examination of the National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation (NIADUE), graduates receive a Master's degree from the Institution.

While studying the above-mentioned subjects, students write their graduation thesis influenced by various issues that they have become aware of through, for example, their occupational experiences. The fundamental purpose of studying at the Graduate School is to learn thought processes used in social sciences through research in security studies. In other words, the goals are to study methods of social sciences by dealing with security issues and to gain a broad perspective and be able to rationally solve problems encountered in the course of duties in the unit to which the student returns after graduation. The achievement of these goals requires free discussions, in which no topic is regarded as taboo, and the School encourages such exchanges of ideas. Also, on the premise that such discussions are carried out at the School, the NIADUE awards a Master's degree to the graduates that have passed the thesis examination.

The School accepts around 20 students each year and the number of teaching faculty members exceeds 30. This ensures we can provide highly attentive instruction. The coursework is rigorous and requires a substantial amount of effort. In fact, there have been students who dropped out and returned to their original unit.

The School is mainly for officers from Japan's Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and officials from Japan's Defense Agency. The backgrounds of the students are diverse; the student body is not dominated by SDF personnel who graduated from the National Defense Academy and includes a good number of SDF personnel who graduated from other universities and civilian personnel from the Internal Division of the Defense Agency as well as Defense Intelligence Headquarters. The ranks of military personnel vary, ranging from First Lieutenant to Colonel. While many students have an academic background in the humanities, the number of students with a science background is not small. The School also accepts students from corporations and other government agencies under an education contract, and, to date, they have included people from the Secretariat of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors, the Coast Guard, the Ministry of Justice, three newspaper companies (Sankei, Yomiuri, Asahi), the PHP Institute, and TV Asahi Corporation. In addition, the School accepts international students from foreign institutions such as the military forces of Korea (Army, Air Force, Navy), Cambodia (Army), and Mongolia (Army). The approximately 40 first-year and second-year students with different professional affiliation, ranks, and nationality are provided with their own desk and bookshelf in the School's 24-hour shared office.

All faculty and administrative staff provide the best possible support for students to achieve the School's education and research goals. Students must remind themselves that they are allowed to study away from their normal duties-defense-related or otherwise-despite the significant responsibilities of these duties, and must take a full advantage of the two years at the School.