Master's Program in Sport and Olympic Studies

Sporting excellence on the international stage: The newly established Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies will produce leaders for the world of sports

Ever since its earliest days, the University of Tsukuba has been linked to elite sport. At the beginning of last century, Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo, served for 25 years as the principal of the former Tokyo Higher Normal School, the forerunner of the university. Judo went onto become the first marital art to become an Olympic sport.

Kano was a pioneer in international sport and the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee. He was also a passionate educator who helped develop the underlying ethos of balance across all aspects of life — from the intellectual to the physical — that continues to pervade the university today.

Now, as Japan prepares to welcome the world to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the University of Tsukuba has been honored with the task of developing one of world’s key centers of excellence for sports education — the Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies (TIAS). Launched in July last year, TIAS is a pivotal part of the Japanese Government’s ‘Sport for Tomorrow’ project, which has as one of its key aims the training of global talents in the area of sports leadership. TIAS is getting help with this aim by liaising with sport academies around the world, and the University of Tsukuba has signed a cooperation agreement with the Switzerland-based International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (AISTS).

One of TIAS’s principal educational offerings is a Master’s Program in Sport and Olympic Studies, an 18-month postgraduate qualification that will begin in 2016. The qualification is being taught in English and aims to attract elite candidates from around the world. “The next generation of world leaders in sport will be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow through education in areas such as about anti-doping and the functional rehabilitation of the elderly and disabled,” says TIAS chairman, Hisashi Sanada.

Because the TIAS master’s program has been established under the Japanese Government’s Sport for Tomorrow project, international students who qualify will be exempt from examination, admission and tuition fees.

In line with the teachings of the influential Jigoro, the course curriculum adopts a highly holistic approach: it combines a Japanese-style emphasis on the ‘full development’ of a student’s personality with instruction in the latest sporting technology and trends.

The curriculum covers five broad areas: Olympic and Paralympic education, which delves into areas such as the Olympic legacy; sports management — taking students through everything from event management to sport finance and economics; sports science and medicine, including key topics such as anti-doping and exercise physiology; sport for development and peace; and teaching, coaching and Japanese culture — which looks at state-of-the-art teaching and coaching and its integration with aspects of Japanese culture, such as hospitality.

“Though this thorough curriculum that makes the most of Japanese cultural strengths and the expertise of the University of Tsukuba, TIAS will help bring more integrity to the sporting world,” says Sanada. “And we’ll do that through our graduates moving out to become leaders around the globe in areas like sports management, medicine and coaching. They will be the next generation of leaders in the sporting world.”

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