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Developing World-Class Researchers – General Course (Research Specialist Track)

If you aspire to become a researcher in economics through the General Course, then you may go through the consistent five-year curriculum that is comprised of two years in the Master’s Program and three years in the Doctoral Program. In the 2-year Master’s Program, students take lectures, seminars and special research (secondary seminars) for the required credits (more than 30 credits) and write their master’s thesis. After entering the Doctoral Program, students write their thesis under the guidance of their advisers, submit their papers to academic conferences and magazines specializing in economics, and write a doctoral thesis.


Within the compulsory elective courses, courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics for a total of 12 units are given to aspiring research specialists. Subjects covering a broad range of fields are offered and students can select highly specialized subjects from a list of subjects for learning about analysis tools. Some part-time lecturers from outside the University also give lectures every year. They discuss specialized fields that are currently popular in the academic industry to address the needs of graduate students.


The Graduate School of Economics is characterized by the detailed guidance on research through seminars. After entering the Master’s Program, graduate students will belong to the seminars led by specific professors. Throughout the Master’s and Doctoral Programs, they will be trained as researchers-in-the-making by ensuring that they learn everything from how to read basic literature and following guidance on writing theses through research reports, up to rehearsals for academic conference reports, sometimes under strict coaching. Under the Master’s Program, students read basic literature and report on their research for their master’s thesis, while in the Doctoral Program, they mainly engage in individual research papers for their doctoral thesis. Further, graduate students may take a specialized research (secondary seminar) to receive guidance on research from professors other than their advisers.

Rokko Forum

Rokko Forum is a workshop for joint research and education that is considered as an important pillar in developing researchers along seminars. Comprised of multiple forums, Rokko Forum covers all the fields in the graduate program. The Forum has two main objectives. The first objective is to have the graduate students and professors in the Doctoral Course take part in the forum as a part of the seminar, and have numerous professors provide systematic guidance to the research papers of all graduate students and offer support so that their respective research themes will be realized in their doctoral theses. The other objective is to help all graduate students connect with cutting-edge economics by inviting researchers from Japan and abroad to give lectures and classes. Rokko Forum is held several times a month, serving as a major motivation for graduate students.

Master's Thesis

The first step as a researcher starts from writing the master’s thesis. The master’s thesis is the first full-fledged paper to be written by students after they enter graduate school, the kind of thesis that will generally decide the direction of the research they will pursue in the future. In preparing a thesis, the student will decide on the theme in the first year and then submit the master’s thesis in the second year.

Doctoral Thesis

The acquisition of a doctoral degree is one of the “actions” that must be taken by researchers who wish to make it their life’s work to research on economics. Article 4 of the Standards for the Establishment of Graduate Schools states that the doctoral degree will be “awarded to a person who possesses advanced research skills that a researcher needs in conducting independent research activities, and rich academic knowledge that will serve as the foundations of such skills.”

There are two types of doctoral degree – the doctoral degree that is attained after completing a course of study, and the doctoral degree that is obtained by simply submitting a thesis – but all the graduate students in the program aim for the former. Under the doctoral program, if you completed the Master’s Program, spent at least three years on the doctoral program to earn the required number of credits, and passed the scholastic ability test, then you may submit a doctoral thesis and request its review. Since the first doctoral degree was given in 1988, 165 Japanese and 92 foreign graduates (as of April 2019) have obtained their doctoral degrees.

Developing Highly Skilled Professionals – General Course (Highly Skilled Professional Track)

With a 2-year Master’s Program curriculum only, this Program is for those who want to become highly skilled professionals through the General Course. Under this Program, students who have earned the prescribed number of credits and passed the master’s thesis review will be given a master’s degree in economics. Students will be required to write a master’s thesis under the theme of discovering new insights and theories in economics.

General Research Program

The General Research Program is a program for people who want to acquire comprehensive intellectual and analytical skills by writing a master’s thesis on their individual research theme in various areas of economics. In parallel with taking courses, students will take the course of the advisor who was assigned upon their admission into the Program and then write their master’s thesis on their respective themes.

Overseas Double Degree Program

The Faculty of Economics and the Graduate School of Economics have agreements with European and Asian universities on Double Degree Program that can be earned by undergraduate and graduate students to promote education by international cooperation. At present, Kobe University has agreements with the following five universities: KU Leuven (Belgium), Wuhan University and Beijing Foreign Studies University (China), Foreign Trade University (Vietnam) and University of Essex (UK). Kobe University accepts undergraduate and graduate students from Wuhan University and Foreign Trade University, and graduate students from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Kobe University also accepts both undergraduate and graduate students from KU Leuven, while it sends graduate students to KU Leuven. After completing one semester in the Master’s Program of the Graduate School of Economics in Kobe, students will go and study at KU Leuven to acquire a master’s degree in economics, business administration, or European studies. Thereafter, they may return to Kobe to earn a master’s degree in economics.

International Five-Year Economics Education Program at Kobe (IFEEK)

IFEEK is a special program that combines education at Kobe University and education at our partner universities abroad to help students learn how to fully use economics in English. In this Program, lectures and classes are conducted in both Japanese and English, with emphasis put on knowledge in economics as an expertise, and on internationality to make use of such expertise. In the Graduate School, students mainly take specialized subjects in English. In addition, they conduct research for their master’s thesis with the help of the knowledge they acquired when they studied overseas. Through consistent guidance from their graduation thesis up to their master’s thesis through study-abroad, students are envisioned to reach world standards over a short period of time. The IFEEK Program starts from the undergraduate level, so you cannot enroll from the graduate school level.

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Kobe University Programme for European Studies (KUPES)

Under the Kobe University Programme for European Studies (KUPES), students will learn about the economic, sociocultural, legal and political aspects of the European Union (EU) from a professional and interdisciplinary viewpoint, and eventually study in a university in the EU region for one year to earn double degrees. By studying abroad, they can develop their foreign language proficiency and broaden their multifaceted perspectives, thereby forming an international network and a tough spirit to create more chances to play important roles in international organizations and various industries in the world.

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International Master Program in Economics

In this program, all lectures/seminars are conducted in English only, and students are able to obtain master degrees in economics without taking any classes taught in Japanese. There is also a selection of economics-related courses available to students which are taught by the teaching staff of other schools (e.g. the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies).

The Program is offered as part of the international education programs of Kobe University, including the IFEEK, where Japanese students are allowed to take the courses taught in English. Therefore, students in the program will study together with Japanese students.

Apart from the above feature, the program is essentially the same as other master programs in our school. Successful students are awarded with a master's degree after obtaining 30 credits or more and submitting a master thesis under supervision of a professor who shares similar research interests. Normally it takes two years to complete the program.

Global Master Program in Economics (GMAP)

The Global Master Program in Economics was launched in April 2015 in response to the rapid globalization. It is a unique interdisciplinary program with particular emphases on economics, law and business administration. The program is designed mainly to provide students with advanced knowledge of social sciences to become business elites. Completion of the program also allows interested students to step up to Graduate School of Economics at Kobe University.