The Joint Degree Program at
The Joint Degree Program is a program in which two universities create a single curriculum and award degrees jointly. How did this unique and ambitious program, which is the first of its kind for a Japanese university, come about? To answer this question, we talked to Professor Akihiko Kimijima, the person who spearheaded the creation of the program.
Partnership between Ritsumeikan University and
American University that led to the Joint Degree Program
Ritsumeikan University(RU) opened its College of International Relations in 1988. This marked the beginning of our efforts to promote international higher education and can also be considered the origin of the joint degree program. Since then, RU has been providing university education that contributes to the internationalization and globalization of Japanese society. The joint degree program is at the forefront of these efforts, so in a sense, it can be considered to be the most advanced initiative of its kind in all of Japan’s universities.
RU's relationship with AU began when the College of International Relations was established. It was formed based on a mutual respect and trust between the Deans of RU’s College of International Relations and AU’s School of International Service. Exchange with American University deepened over the years, and in 1994, the two universities launched a dual undergraduate degree program (DUDP), which was the first such program in Japan.
Ritsumeikan’s true value lies in
its attitude toward innovation
In the 2010s, the inward-looking orientation of Japanese society became noticeable concurrent with a decline in people looking to the outside world. Although this was not so much the case at RU, the number of students studying abroad fell. Amid this backdrop, RU approached AU about considering the establishment of a joint degree program. Professor Patrick Jackson, the Associate Dean of the School of International Service, immediately agreed with this plan, and the program soon took shape. Preparations for the joint degree program went more smoothly than expected, and the program was launched in 2018 after just three years of preliminary work.
I hope that RU will remain innovative as a front-runner of university reforms. Ritsumeikan University’s value lies in its attitude of always tackling new challenges.
I want students to experience living and
learning at an American university
The joint degree program follows a single curriculum offered by RU and AU, and students are registered at both universities. The two universities work together to provide a support system that makes it easy for students to learn and study abroad with peace of mind.
Looking at my own experience, I would like all students to experience studying abroad if possible. Studying abroad, especially at an American university, is a great opportunity to receive a high-quality, advanced level university education. Living in Washington D.C., where AU is located, will also give students an opportunity to witness trends in world politics in real time.
When you view Japan from the United States, it is sure to look very different from the Japan where you have spent your entire life. In this way, living in the United States is also very meaningful for learning more about Japan. I hope that the experiences provided by the joint degree program will open up a world of possibilities for you.
Proactively learning in a stimulating environment surrounded by international students
2nd-year studentAmi Kaibori
Using My Curiosity as the Driving force to Learn Amid a Diverse Array of Values
2nd-year studentTaira Sugimoto
Exploring the value of the joint degree program
A single curriculum jointly designed by two different universities
Associate ProfessorThomas French
The value of spending time in Washington D.C.,
the center of America’s global strategy