The contemporary media landscape is one characterized by enormous and rapid changes taking place on a scale and of an importance never before witnessed. The ever-expanding internet and the growth of mobile communication technologies continue to have a profound influence on how media are produced, distributed and consumed. Indeed, the very meaning of the word “media” itself is constantly evolving. Taken together, these changes offer a huge range of exciting new opportunities for young people aiming for careers as media professionals or media studies researchers or teachers.
The Media Professional Course’s MA and PhD degree programs have been specifically designed to prepare students for such careers. Established in 2004 we aim to provide students with a thorough grounding in the knowledge and skills they need to create, distribute, interpret and evaluate various kinds of media including both traditional mass media and new social media formats. Graduates from the programs are highly-qualified for media-related careers not only in broadcast, print and other media organizations but also more generally as specialists in information and communication in the fields of advertising, public relations and education.
In the past, media and other organizations tended to recruit new graduate employees without much regard to what they had studied at university, relying instead on on-the-job training to provide them with the specific knowledge and skills considered necessary for their work. However, in recent years as the competition for media-related jobs has increased, the tendency has been for such organizations to recruit people who not only possess a broad understanding of society and culture but who can also demonstrate some technical knowledge and practical experience of media work. It was in response to this tendency that the Media Professional Course was established as an educational institution that is uniquely dedicated to the mission of meeting the needs of both media organizations and students seeking media-related careers.
Underlying the Media Professional Course’s success in accomplishing its educational mission has been the close and productive collaboration between academia, media organizations and civil society that it has developed. In particular, we have benefited enormously from the support and cooperation of a wide range of media organizations that have kindly allowed some of their most senior personnel to serve as visiting professors and lecturers. These organizations include the Nagoya-based Chunichi Shimbun newspaper and Tokai Television companies, Japan’s public service broadcaster NHK, news agency Kyodo Tsushin and the country’s leading advertising agency, Dentsu. The classes taught by these industry professionals are highly popular because of the unique opportunity they provide for students to learn about the media from experienced insiders. The classes currently include Newspaper Journalism, Broadcast Program Production, and Advertising Strategy as Human Communication. As a further development of our ties with media-related organizations, in 2009 we launched a new class, Corporate Communication, which is taught collaboratively by our academic staff and PR specialists from a number of major companies based in the Nagoya area. In addition to these classes we have also established an internship program with the Chunichi Shimbun through which students can gain vital experience in actually working for a media organization.
The academic faculty of the Media Professional Course conduct world-class research in the fields of media, communication and information studies. We are particularly fortunate in having a number of faculty members who in addition to holding advanced degrees in their fields of expertise also have extensive experience as media professionals, both in Japan and in other countries including the USA and Germany. Research strengths include new media and mobile communication, media and politics, communication design, community media, international history, media education and media language. Note, however, that in addition to these areas our faculty can offer supervision to MA and PhD students in a range of other subjects.
Faculty members have been successful in obtaining funding for their research through competitive grants-in-aid from the Japanese Ministry of Education and elsewhere and they have received a number of academic awards in recognition of the value of their work.
In recent years the Course has hosted a number of conferences and symposia featuring leading experts in various fields of media practice and research. Most notably, in 2013 we celebrated our tenth anniversary with a series of events including an international symposium entitled “Japan’s dialogue with the world: How the world sees Japan, How Japan sees the world”(see report here (see report here – in Japanese))
In principle, these Master’s programs are two-year programs.
Together with the high level of collaboration between academia, civil society and media industries, perhaps the most notable feature of the Media Professional Course at the MA level and undoubtedly one of the main reasons for its popularity is that students have the option of following either a traditional thesis-based program or our innovative contents-based program. To take account of students’ changing interests and needs and to allow additional flexibility, students are permitted to transfer from one program to the other midway through their degree. This is possible because, in general, the way in which the programs are organized means that students spend their first year taking classes and do not embark on their thesis research or contents production work until their second year.
The thesis program is theoretically oriented and therefore, in addition to obtaining the specified number of class credits, students must write a full-length MA thesis on their chosen topic. This program is particularly suitable for students who are thinking of progressing towards a PhD degree in media studies or a career in some area of media education. However, it is also popular with more practically oriented students who seek to deepen their knowledge of the media. Another group to whom this program appeals are mid-career media professionals who wish to augment and contextualize their technical knowledge and skills through a broader theoretical understanding of the wider themes in current media studies research.
Rather than requiring students to write an MA thesis, the contents program gives students the opportunity to create their own media contents in a format of their choosing. This might, for example, consist of a series of newspaper or magazine articles, a documentary film, a portfolio of PR materials or a website.
In the case of contents program students, our aim is to produce graduates who can become “reflective practitioners”, in other words media professionals who possess not only technical skills but also a high level of academic knowledge about a wide range of media-related and social matters, including politics, economics and the environment. Furthermore, we aim to provide graduates with an international perspective on these issues, something that is greatly facilitated by the high proportion of international students who take our programs and the international orientation of our faculty. While developing their individuality to the full, such graduates are expected to become media professionals who have a strong sense of responsibility in relation to society and humanity. Importantly, they will have both a rich understanding of the past and present media scenes and also the foresight and flexibility to become future leaders in their chosen fields. Reflecting these aims, whatever format they choose to work in, contents program students are also required to produce a theoretically-informed written report about their work.
The class credit requirements for the contents program are the same as those for the thesis program.
Because of the very diverse backgrounds of our students, in terms of their academic training and cultural experience, and their equally diverse interests and needs, the Media Professional Course has developed a comprehensive system of supervision designed to give guidance and support to each individual student, covering both academic and personal matters.
Each student is individually supervised by one Main Supervisor, who is a full-time member of the Media Professional Course faculty. Upon entering the program, students are initially assigned to a provisional Main Supervisor but, unlike most other graduate school departments, Media Professional Course students have the opportunity to select their permanent Main Supervisor towards the end of the first semester. This gives students a chance to clarify their interests, discuss these with faculty members and decide for themselves who they think would be the most suitable supervisor.
In consultation with their Main Supervisor, students select two or more other faculty members as Sub-Supervisors. According to the needs of the students, these may be chosen from the Media Professional Course or from other departments in the Graduate School of Languages and Cultures, thereby enabling students to receive the most suitable supervision possible.
As a further means of strengthening both the individual supervision of students and the collective supervision of the two MA programs, the Media Professional Course has also established two Advisory Groups, one for each program, through which faculty members can monitor student progress and students can receive additional advice and support.
In principle, the PhD program is a three-year program.
The Media Professional Course offers individually tailored PhD supervision to suitably qualified students holding an MA or equivalent degree. Because of the highly specialized nature of PhD research, applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors in advance to discuss their plans prior to making a formal application. Although PhD students are required to take a small number of courses per semester they are expected to devote most of their time to supervised research leading to the production of a PhD thesis. As to the arrangements for supervision, these are similar to those provided to MA students.
Note that currently there is no contents-based program at PhD level.
The Media Professional Course began issuing its first journal, Studies in Language and Culture, in 2005. As the Course developed and expanded, reflecting a change of emphasis towards greater links with media industries and a concern for media-related social issues, the journal was re-launched in 2009 as Studies in Media and Society. The journal is published annually under the auspices of the Graduate School of Languages and Cultures. In its printed form the journal is distributed widely throughout Japan and overseas.
The editorial policy of this journal actively encourages contributions in a wide range of formats. In addition to research papers it also publishes shorter research notes, essays, contents production reports, conference and book reviews and photojournalism.
Current and previous issues are available on this page.
Guidelines for Authors and an Application Form are available on this page.
As part of its contribution to society, the Media Professional Course hosts frequent symposia, lectures and workshops to help promote understanding of, and participation in, today’s increasingly complex media world.
The latest course guide is available below.