Today's era of globalization requires a new form of area studies. After having achieved considerable acclaim as a major academic institution for Asian and Latin American studies in both Japan and abroad, in April 1997, Sophia University implemented a new area studies program in the Graduate School of Foreign Studies to further focus on the various regions across Asia and Latin America.
SGPAS was primarily created by the faculty from the following three departments in the Faculty of Foreign Studies: (1) Department of Asian Cultures, (2) Department of Spanish Language and Hispanic Studies, and (3) Department of Portuguese Language and Luso-Brazilian Studies. Further, SGPAS is supported by the research achievements of the following three institutes: Institute of Asian Cultures, Iberoamerican Institute, and Center for Luso-Brazilian Studies at Sophia University. SGPAS demands that students acquire specialized knowledge in a wide range of topics including history, society, culture, politics, economics as well as the developmental issues concerning one of the three regions of Asia (Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East) or Latin America. Moreover, it emphasizes that students become professionals with in-depth knowledge of a particular region.
On completion of the Master's program (15 students per year), the students will be awarded a Master's (Area Studies) degree; similarly, students in the Doctoral program (five students per year) will be awarded a Ph.D. (Area Studies) degree.
SGPAS is still in its infancy and therefore is a new field of research as compared with other traditional disciplines. Consequently, establishing appropriate theories and overcoming several unique challenges, such as learning the local language in order to gain an internal perspective of the particular region, requires work. Area studies per se is a challenging field of study.
In April 2006, three programs including SGPAS were separated from the existing Graduate School of Foreign Studies. Subsequently, the Graduate School of Global Studies, comprising programs in International Relations, Area Studies, and Global Studies, was newly established.