Click on the questions below for answers to some of the questions commonly asked by prospective students.

How does the Faculty of Global Studies differ from the Faculty of Foreign Studies?
The basic goals of the two faculties are similar, in that both aim to train individuals to play a meaningful role in the global arena, guided by the university’s educational philosophy of “Men and Women for Others, with Others.” The difference lies in the point of entry and angle of approach. In the Faculty of Global Studies (FGS), students begin by cultivating a global perspective geared to understanding and analyzing the problems facing the world and its diverse regions. In the Faculty of Foreign Studies (FFS), we regard mastery of a foreign language as the foundation on which students build their four-year undergraduate education. Here in the FFS, students deepen their understanding of disciplines like linguistics and area studies as they build their language skills. This is the biggest difference between the two.That said, the FFS and the FGS will be working together in close partnership, so students in both faculties will most likely find themselves side by side in the same courses. For example, students in the FFS can explore global issues even as they continue their intensive language training by selecting the International Politics concentration, consisting largely of courses offered by the FGS. And students in the FGS may enroll in FFS seminars and other courses to take advantage of the FFS’s regional expertise in areas like Latin America. We anticipate a synergistic effect as students from the two programs pool their knowledge (such as language skills and theoretical understanding) and engage in healthy competition.
Is the Faculty of Foreign Studies all about foreign language study?
Not at all. The program’s English name, Faculty of Foreign Studies, more accurately conveys the content of today’s curriculum than the Japanese name (Gaikokugo Gakubu), which reflects the school’s original focus on foreign language. As we see it, if your only objective is to master a foreign language, there are dozens of language schools you can attend. The FFS offers something more: multilingual training combined with advanced studies that put those language skills to use. These are the twin engines of our academic program. Back in the late 1950s, when the faculty was launched, many saw foreign language education as the key to Japan’s “internationalization.” At the time, our curriculum reflected this focus on foreign language learning. Later, as more Japanese began to engage in a wide range of activities on the international stage, and as Japanese society became more international in character, it became clear that foreign language proficiency wasn’t enough. Japan needed people who could unite a command of foreign languages with a multidimensional understanding of the societies that use those languages. Over time, the FFS has revamped its curriculum with an eye to cultivating both.
I understand that the Faculty of Foreign Studies has adopted a new curriculum. Have you made any important changes to your foreign language program?
Certainly. The Sophia University Faculty of Foreign Studies has a longstanding reputation for the quality of its foreign language education, but the latest reforms are designed to make that program even stronger. Entering students enroll in one of six departments, where they undergo intensive training to achieve practical proficiency in the major language of their choice: English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, or Portuguese. At the same time, the new curriculum is designed to help all our students boost their command of English—the world’s de facto global language—in a manner suited to their individual aims and needs. (Students in the Department of English Studies choose another language as their second foreign language.) We also felt it was important for our students to polish their Japanese language skills. We want them to cultivate an international perspective on our rapidly globalizing world through mastering English, acquire a multidimensional understanding of a particular region of the world through building practical proficiency in a second foreign language, and also develop the capacity to understand Japanese culture, society, and values—themselves, in other words—in a broader global context through developing their communication skills in Japanese (the native tongue of most of our students). These new educational aims are summed up in the formula “Three Languages and Three Perspectives.”
Any changes in specialized disciplinary studies under the new curriculum?
Yes, major changes. The new system establishes nine new concentrations for specialized study. Previously, students in some departments were limited to six or seven disciplines, but under the new system, members of every department can choose freely from the same nine concentrations, in accordance with their own interests.
Can you tell me more about the nine concentrations?
Six of the concentrations focus on area studies. In the European Studies, North American Studies, Latin American Studies, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Middle Eastern and African Studies, and Asian Studies concentrations, students apply the methodologies of such disciplines as sociology, religious studies, economics, political science, history, literature, and philosophy to the study of a specific region.In the Linguistics concentration, students can explore various aspects of this wide-ranging discipline, including theoretical and applied linguistics, speech-language-hearing disorders, and the theory and practice of translation and interpreting. They can also build theoretical and practical expertise in the field of foreign language education.Students in the International Politics concentration develop the knowledge and skills to understand and analyze political affairs within the international community in our age of globalization, at a time when international relations are inextricably intertwined with domestic political and economic developments.In the Civil Society and International Cooperation concentration, students adopt a perspective transcending the framework of the nation-state, develop a multidimensional understanding of the issues facing people in other parts of the world, and explore ways to apply that understanding to international cooperation in a variety of locales and circumstances.
What about students who haven’t figured out what they want to specialize in? A lot of high school seniors are still unsure exactly where their interests lie.
The Faculty of Foreign Studies welcomes students who are still undecided as to the course of their studies, along with those who enroll with clearly defined educational goals. In fact, the FFS is an ideal program for young people who are still searching for direction.Students in the FFS start by developing multilingual proficiency, a skill that is sure to stand them in good stead after graduation, no matter what path they choose. Meanwhile, both the faculty as a whole and the nine concentrations individually offer a wide range of introductory courses to acquaint students with the background knowledge and basic methodology needed to pursue more advanced studies in each discipline. Each department also offers basic area studies courses introducing students to the societies where the department’s language is spoken; for example, the Department of French offers Basic Francophone Area Studies, in which students gain a familiarity with the French-speaking world in all its aspects. We give students ample time to take a broad selection of introductory courses and decide on a specialized research topic during their first two years.At the end of their second year, students declare a concentration and begin systematically developing their knowledge of their chosen discipline, progressing from their concentration’s introductory courses to its more advanced core courses. In seminar courses, open to third- and fourth-years, students have the opportunity to explore the issues that interest them the most under the personalized guidance of faculty members specializing in the field. Finally, this systematic study and research comes to fruition in a graduation thesis or project, an original work that stands as a summation of the student’s university education.Just imagine how much deeper and more rewarding one’s research is likely to be when it is built on practical proficiency in Japanese, English, and at least one other language.
The only foreign language I’ve ever studied is English. Am I really going to be able to master a new language like German, French, Spanish, Russian, or Portuguese as a college student?
Don’t worry. We understand that there’s a big difference between learning a brand new language in university and continuing one’s study of English after six years of secondary-school instruction. In the former case, we use methods carefully tailored to the needs of beginning learners. The FFS combines decades of experience in foreign language education with cutting-edge teaching methods, and we’re confident that students who follow our program conscientiously can achieve practical proficiency in any of our departmental languages without any prior experience. To meet this goal, first- and second-year students undergo highly intensive training, meeting six times a week in 90-minute classes that are team-taught by native speakers and Japanese instructors. After that, most students are ready to go overseas and take advanced coursework at a postsecondary institution where their major language is spoken.
Will I be able to boost my English skills as well?
Most students who major in a language other than English choose English as their second foreign language. After completing four credits of required English coursework in their first year, students are free to choose from a wide range of English-language course offerings geared to various objectives and proficiency levels, in keeping with their individual needs.Students in the Department of English choose a language other than English as their second foreign language, and students in other departments are free to do so as well. The choices include not only European languages like German and French but also Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Arabic, and more. Students who select a second foreign language other than English are required to complete at least eight credits of coursework in that language.
Sophia University also has a Faculty of Liberal Arts (known as the Kokusai Kyoyo Gakubu, or “Faculty of International Culture”). How does that school differ from the Faculty of Foreign Studies?
These two faculties are occasionally confused because they both conduct classes in languages other than Japanese. However, the emphasis is quite different. In the FFS, students develop multilingual proficiency in order to pursue studies in a particular discipline using their foreign language skills. In the Faculty of Liberal Arts (FLA), the curriculum covers the humanities, social sciences, international economics, Japanese language, linguistics, and Japanese studies, and all courses are taught in English. Students should choose the faculty that best matches their own objectives, keeping these differences in mind. The two faculties do overlap and intersect in certain courses, and FFS students with sufficiently advanced English skills have the opportunity to take FLA courses conducted in English.
I hear that a lot of the students who enroll in the FFS have been schooled overseas. As someone who has never traveled abroad, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to compete.
It’s true that many of our students have attended school overseas. But it’s wrong to assume that these students have an academic advantage over others in the FFS. Some students who attended school overseas speak a foreign language fluently but lack an understanding of the grammar or need to work on their Japanese. Some have acquired a lot of foreign mannerisms yet lack a basic understanding of the society where they were living. Many students who have lived abroad have just as much to learn about foreign culture as those who have never been outside Japan. What we are really looking for in our students is motivation—motivation to develop multilingual proficiency, to use those language skills to deepen their understanding of the vast and diverse world in which we live, and to take what they have learned and make a meaningful contribution to the world as global citizens. University education is profound and leads to diverse possibilities. A student’s prior experience abroad, or lack of such experience, has no direct bearing on his or her potential as a student in the Faculty of Foreign Studies.
What are my options for studying abroad while enrolled in the Faculty of Foreign Studies?
Few educational institutions in Japan offer more opportunities for study abroad than Sophia University. Sophia has student exchange agreements with more than 180 universities, colleges, and research institutes worldwide—among the largest number of any Japanese university. It also supports and encourages study abroad through scholarships, credit-transfer agreements, and other programs. Each year more than 200 Sophia students travel abroad to study at partner universities around the world for one to two semesters. The university also offers numerous opportunities for short-term study abroad in the form of Overseas Language Courses and Short-term Overseas Study Programs held during spring and summer leaves. For more information, visit the university’s International Programs page. Among the university’s faculties, the FFS is notable for the large number of students it sends overseas each year. The majority of our students experience study abroad in one form or another (long-term or short-term) before they graduate. Of course, this is partly because our program attracts so many students who are interested in foreign countries to begin with. But the individualized support and guidance provided by each department is an important factor as well. Moreover, beginning in the 2014 academic year, we will be implementing a number of new policies designed to enhance our support services for students wishing to study abroad.Students in the Department of German Studies can also take advantage of that department’s Integrated Study Abroad program. Each year the department sends a substantial number of students overseas to study at German-speaking universities, while hosting exchange students from the same institutions. This gives the department’s students an opportunity to learn from and interact with native German speakers of their own generation on a daily basis.
Each year how many FFS graduates find jobs where they can make use of their foreign language skills?
That’s a difficult question to answer with any precision. Our students follow a wide variety of careers after graduation, and few Japanese employers, whether private corporations or government agencies, are in the practice of immediately assigning new hires to posts that require specialized knowledge or skills. However, within five or ten years of graduation, a large portion of our alumni are involved in work that makes use of their expertise and foreign-language skills, whether in Japan or overseas. Our graduates also benefit from the growing presence of international corporations doing business in Japan. To learn more about what our alums are up to, visit the Sophia University Alumni Association website.
What sort of career paths do FFS graduates follow?
The wide range of study options offered by the FFS curriculum is mirrored in the variety of career paths that FFS students follow after graduation. Our alumni have earned high marks from employers in every sector, from private business to central and local government, international agencies, educational institutions, and news organizations. Thanks to the growing presence of international businesses in Japan, a considerable number of FFS graduates have found work with foreign-affiliated firms. And in recent years, more of our students have set their sights on nongovernmental and nonprofit jobs. In addition, each year a substantial portion of FFS graduates enroll in a graduate school in Japan or overseas to prepare for academic or professional careers. To learn more, visit the Careers page of the Sophia University website.
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