Diploma Policy (Policy on awarding degrees)

Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy (ICS) was established in 2000 as one of Japan’s first professional graduate schools (Senmonshoku Daigakuin) embedded within a national university. The mission of the ICS International Business Strategy program is twofold: to educate and develop new generations of business leaders for our nation, Asia, and the world at large; and to generate and disseminate knowledge globally from a Japanese perspective. To accomplish this mission, Hitotsubashi ICS offers world-class MBA and DBA programs that draw on internationally recognized teaching strategies, with an emphasis on Japan’s role within Asia and beyond. As a knowledge leader, Hitotsubashi ICS also widely disseminates its research findings to the world, providing influential, innovative ideas with practical implications to academic and business communities.

The vision and values of Hitotsubashi ICS are summed up by the phrase “Best of Two Worlds.” The school strives to achieve its mission by bringing together the best of two contrasting concepts, such as East and West, theory and practice, the new economy and the old economy, the haves and the have nots. Embracing the idea that there are no simple correct answers in the real world, ICS places great importance on driving innovation by facing paradox, combining the advantages of opposites, and developing tolerance for ambiguity.

All Hitotsubashi ICS courses are conducted in English. Students are required to have a minimum of three years of full-time work experience to enroll in the programs, a feature which attracts individuals of diverse backgrounds from around the world. About 80% of the school’s students are international, while the faculty is made up of business practitioners and academics who have earned their degrees from top overseas colleges and universities, many of whom also have extensive teaching experience. With a faculty-student ratio of 1:3, the courses offer students personalized, high-quality learning experiences that no other business school can match, focused on small-sized class seminars that are a distinguished tradition of Hitotsubashi University.

Curriculum Policy (Policy on curriculum development and delivery)

Curriculum, pedagogical methods, and teaching resources

Underpinned by the school’s Best of Two Worlds vision, the program contains 14 compulsory and 34 elective courses, along with special courses offered in intensive blocks of time, such as Foundation Week, Strategy Simulation Week, and Knowledge Week.

The school affords students considerable flexibility in designing their own curriculum. For example, students can choose at the time of application between the One-Year Program and the Two-Year Program. Both programs have the same required and elective course offerings for the first year of study, with the Two-Year Program providing additional opportunities in the second year to enroll in optional programs, such as the double degree program, the international exchange program, and internships. The double degree program offers the participants an opportunity to study at China’s Peking University or South Korea’s Seoul National University, the BEST Alliance partners of Hitotsubashi ICS. The university has also established international partnerships with twelve of the world’s leading institutions, including the University of California, Los Angeles in the United States, the London Business School in the United Kingdom, France’s HEC Paris, Spain’s ESADE Business School, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong as well as the two BEST alliance partners.

The case method approach (a discussion format class focusing on corporate case studies) is at the heart of teaching at Hitotsubashi ICS. Courses also employ a combination of a broad range of teaching methodologies and activities best suited for each subject, and they include lectures, simulation, role playing, company visits, and field studies. The emphasis on interactive and participatory education methods is a feature consistent across all courses.

The seminar system is another prominent feature of the curriculum. Once enrolled in the program, all students are assigned a seminar group led by a faculty member in their first term. Typically composed of three to four students, these small-sized classes encourage a high level of student-faculty engagement for quality instruction, and enable the students to build close relationships with both faculty and peers lasting beyond graduation.

Class language and language education

All classes at Hitotsubashi ICS are conducted in English, and students are strongly encouraged to switch to English even in daily conversations to accommodate peers who may not speak the same language. This policy provides daily opportunities for non-native speakers of English to actively communicate in English, hone their leadership skills in group discussions, and improve language proficiency crucial for global communication.

To meet the post-graduation needs of the many students wishing to find employment with Japanese companies or businesses related to Japan, the school launched in 2012 a Japanese language program at its Chiyoda campus. The course is divided into three levels – introductory, intermediate, and advanced – to suit student proficiency levels, and lessons are designed with the goal for the participants to develop the language skills needed to conduct business in Japanese.

Course and degree requirements for graduation

Students must complete a minimum of 50 credits for graduation (a minimum of 52 in the Two-Year Program), including 2 seminar credits and 48 lecture course credits (which should include 25 required course credits and 7 special course credits).

Course grades are assigned based on a relative distribution using the forced grading curve, with the top 30% awarded an A, the bottom 10% receiving a C or F, and the 60% in between assigned a B. The weight of each grading component, such as class participation, quizzes, and final exams, varies from course to course. The grading policy and criteria are clearly communicated to students at the start of the course to ensure fairness and transparency. Of the 50 credits required for graduation, students must earn A, B, or “pass” for 30 or more credits to successfully complete the program.

The Two-Year Program students are required to complete part of their seminar credits in the second year by participating in additional learning opportunities, such the double degree program, the international exchange program, and internships.

Post-graduation career support

Hitotsubashi ICS provides individualized career support by a team of dedicated career service staff. The Career Services Office counsels students to identify their career goals and aspirations, and strives to match student needs with appropriate employers by organizing career fairs and internship opportunities. Notably, approximately 50% of international students find employment in Japan after graduation, while the rest pursue careers in their home country or another country outside Japan. Of those working in Japan, half are employed by a Japanese company and the other half by a foreign company.

Admissions policy (Policy on student admissions)

The MBA program typically commences in October. The application forms and procedures are available for download on the school website year-round, and events for interested candidates, such as campus tours and MBA fairs, are held from July onwards. Applications are accepted twice a year, once from early December to mid-January and again in early February to mid-March.

There are two stages to the admissions process: the evaluation of application forms and an interview. As in any world-class business school, Hitotsubashi ICS evaluates the applicants on a variety of criteria, including the most recent TOEFL/IELTS and GMAT scores, three-plus years of work experience, a statement of purpose essay, two letters of recommendation, and undergraduate transcripts. Applicants successful in the first phase of the process are then invited for an interview. Admissions decisions are made by a consensus of the Admissions Committee consisting of full-time Hitotsubashi ICS faculty members.