University of Tokyo to Offer 5-Year Program Integrating Undergraduate, Graduate Studies to Foster High-Quality Research

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Akamon gate of the University of Tokyo is seen in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

Aiming to carry out global-level research and foster human resources, the University of Tokyo has decided to create a five-year educational program that integrates undergraduate and graduate courses starting in autumn 2027, it has been learned.

The new program will be the equivalent of an undergraduate department and will make maximum use of the university’s educational and research resources ranging from medicine to literature in an integrated manner. The aim is to foster people who can solve global issues, from climate change to biodiversity, that are difficult to tackle in a conventional vertically divided academic structure.

The program will consist of four years of undergraduate and one year of graduate studies modeled after cases of leading universities in the United States and Europe that allow students to complete coursework within five years from the freshman year.

The university will admit about 100 students per year in the program, with half of them being foreign students and the rest high school graduates and others.

The themes of studies will be decided by students themselves, and they will be allowed to take classes in conventional departments and graduate courses.

For example, in the case of a student researching decarbonization, they would learn not only knowledge about the natural sciences but also systematically study the fields of law and business with the aim of creating strategies for solutions and new values. Students will be required to spend one of their five years outside the university such as studying abroad or interning at a company.

The name of the program will be “College of Design” as it aims to provide students with opportunities to learn various designs that lead to social reforms.

To attract talented students from around the world, the time of enrollment will be set at autumn to match the U.S. and European academic calendar. Lectures will be conducted in English.

With an emphasis on the importance of gender diversity and cultural, economic and other backgrounds, the university is considering new admission methods different from conventional entrance examinations. The university plans to announce the outline of the admission process in the 2024 academic year.

The faculty will include professors and other lecturers at the existing departments of the university who will serve for both those departments and the new program. Researchers and other professionals from private-sector companies with excellent research results or records will be invited to teach in the program. Also, money from the university’s reserve fund will be used to invite elite researchers from abroad.

Students in the existing departments will be allowed to take classes in the new program. By providing opportunities to freely learn beyond the borders of the departments and research fields, the university aims to create a campus where students with diverse backgrounds mutually inspire each other.