The business of learning: The University of Tsukuba’s MBA program in International Business is focused on creating the next generation of global leaders
The University of Tsukuba has been offering a Master of Business Administration on its Tokyo campus for 30 years; a popular, academically rigorous program that involves the completion of a research thesis. Pure academic rigor, however, is not necessarily what every professional wants from an MBA program. Inspired by the success of the executive MBA model — extensive work experience, fast-paced programs and a real-world focus — the University of Tsukuba took the opportunity to develop a genuinely global MBA experience and add it to its business offerings. The English language MBA in International Business (MBA-IB) program was established 10 years ago to offer students a more global MBA experience that was grounded in practice as an alternative to the more traditional Japanese language MBA, which remains on offer.
The central location of the University of Tsukuba’s business school is a major attraction. So too is the fact that the course can be taken via evening and weekend classes, which enables students to continue working fulltime. Indeed, students on the course are mostly in the thick of their working lives.
“The class is almost all working professionals, and therefore it allows me to study in an environment geared towards working adults,” says Siew Sin Lim, a current MBA-IB student. More than half the cohort falls into the 30-to-39 year age bracket. With a maximum 30 students each year, the student to staff ratio is enviable with 2.5 students for each faculty in the program. “The class size is just right, and everyone relates well socially to each other,” says Lim. With the alumni representing more than 20 countries, there is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn from each other and achieve a truly global perspective. “Students are expected to bring their knowledge and experience to the classroom for interactive discussions,” explains Hirohisa Nagai, a professor in the University of Tsukuba’s Organizational Management area who teaches one of the course’s core units.
During the two-year program, students undertake core units from the traditional business discipline areas of Business Strategy and Organizational Management as well as the more international and technology-focused areas of Applied Information and International Adaptability. With half the faculty made up of foreign lecturers and business leaders, these courses provide students with a solid international grounding to integrate into their working lives. In their final year they have the option of undertaking a practically orientated research project, rather than completing an academic thesis. This project can be related directly to their daily work or be centered on business development or entrepreneurship. Throughout the course, students are also expected to take part in the variety of seminars given by visiting international professors and global business leaders.
A distinctive feature of the MBA-IB is the Tsukuba Short-term Study Program (TSSP), during which students can undertake short exchanges with one of 11 partner universities in Australia, China, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States. “For most full-time workers, it is hard to experience an overseas university as an exchange student,” explains Nagai. These short-term visits of approximately one week allow busy professionals the chance to experience the business culture of other countries and enrich their global outlook.
The academic rigor and thorough practical grounding combined with an innovative global outlook make Tsukuba’s MBA-IB program a demanding, yet rewarding course that will produce thought leaders ideally suited for today’s global business landscape.
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