Founded in 1951, the Keio University Graduate School of Letters has a legacy of distinguished researchers that includes literary giants like Junzaburo Nishiwaki and Toshihiko Izutsu. Throughout its history, the school has made considerable contributions to humanities research across a variety of disciplines with a specific focus in the four fields of philosophy, history, literature, and library and information science. In addition to producing the highest levels of research on a global scale, the school has also contributed to Japanese culture by training humanities and social science researchers equipped with both a breadth of knowledge and the depth of specialization. The Graduate School of Letters also plays a major role in training highly skilled professionals in the fields of arts management, information resource management, and Japanese language education.
The majority of courses in the master's and doctoral programs boast small class sizes, so students can receive guidance from their academic supervisor and craft a plan for study and research, choosing from a plethora of courses that raise awareness of important issues while, at the same time, encourage the pursuit of related fields that interest them.
At the Graduate School of Letters, we have established a versatile and caring system of academic guidance and thesis supervision for our students. This system includes professors from the Graduate School of Letters as well as many other full-time academic staff affiliated with the Faculty of Letters who teach graduate courses. In addition, as part of the university-wide efforts in the Top Global University Project, the Graduate School of Letters is implementing initiatives to improve its standard of education further. These initiatives include inviting esteemed researchers from overseas as experts in their field who also serve as co-advisors to doctoral students.
We have also taken care to ensure that various support systems are in place for students to write and complete their doctoral dissertations in accordance with each major’s established procedures. External specialist examiners have been added to our dissertation review process, which is transparent and ensures that dissertations meet the highest standards required of a Ph.D. program. Over ten doctoral dissertations see completion annually, many of which are then published within Japan and abroad.
The most defining features of the Graduate School of Letters are the advanced professional training and devoted instruction that students receive from many experienced, knowledgeable academic faculty in a diverse range of fields. Through small-group seminars and individual guidance, students make progress in their field of research and are able to present their findings on an international stage.
Located on Mita Campus, the Graduate School of Letters is near some of the university’s most celebrated research centers and institutes for the humanities, including the Keio Institute of Cultural and Linguistic Studies, Institute of Oriental Classics (Shido Bunko), Fukuzawa Memorial Institute for Modern Japanese Studies, Keio University Art Center (KUAC), and Center for Japanese Studies. The Graduate School of Letters coordinates with these research institutes for both coursework and research. In addition, dual degree programs such as the Program for Leading Graduate Schools allow students to engage in interdisciplinary research across graduate schools beyond the Graduate School of Letters. This tightly knit system of collaboration in education and research expands the breadth of our academic offerings and provides support for producing original research that spans multiple disciplines. At the same time, it helps bolsters students’ ability to confront and solve issues and prepares them to adapt to real-world problems.
Mita Campus is also home to one of Japan’s largest library collections at the Mita Media Center (Keio University Library) and the Institute of Oriental Classics (Shido Bunko), which together boast an extensive collection of rare Japanese and Western books. Collaboration with these institutions allows for research using historical documents and rare books and also provides an environment to learn the methodologies for handling them. The Graduate School of Letters also maintains working relationships with overseas research institutions, frequently hosting joint seminars with overseas universities and lectures by leading researchers.
Keio University has a substantial scholarship and financial aid system. In addition to various need-based scholarships, research scholarships are available for students with excellent grades and research achievements for both incoming and enrolled students. Students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs can also apply for several internal scholarships available throughout their programs. Each year many students also take advantage of study abroad opportunities at graduate schools abroad, available through the Graduate School of Letters. In addition to a large number of student exchange programs, our graduate school also provides a unique short-term study abroad program at King’s College, University of London. In 2020, we are also launching a system to support graduate students who give presentations at international academic conferences or conduct surveys overseas.
Many researchers affiliated with the Graduate School of Letters are engaged in a variety of joint research projects and have received internal research grants as well as Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). One prime example is the integrated humanities and science initiative of the Global Research Centre for Logic and Sensibility. Graduate students and leading early-career researchers are also invited to participate in these joint research projects, and their participation in these projects allows them to experience leading research firsthand, providing powerful inspiration for them as they pursue their research.
Humanities research, which esteems historical perspectives and cultural diversity, is of ever-increasing importance in these uncertain times. Humanity can only pave a new way forward by learning from the past and those who have come before us. In order to make meaningful contributions to society, it is essential for us to establish methodologies for—and cultivate a deep understanding of—human intellectual practices, cultural exchange, and our relationship with the environment through transdisciplinary research. The Graduate School of Letters aims to be the ideal environment for these pursuits.