Japan's Premier International Liberal Arts Program

Sophia University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts (FLA) grew out of the University’s International Division, established in 1949. In 1975, as the Department of Japanese Language and Culture, we became the first and only comprehensive university program in Japan taught solely in English that was fully accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Subsequent to the reorganization in 1987 as the Faculty of Comparative Culture, in 2006, we became the FLA with an enhanced liberal arts curriculum encompassing the humanities, social studies, and economics, and returned to the Yotsuya campus. The FLA is by far the oldest program of its kind in Japan, and remains well ahead of other similar programs.

A BA degree from the FLA is recognized in Japan and abroad as a hallmark of excellence. The BA combines a broad liberal arts education with specialized disciplinary focus in one of three majors – Comparative Culture (art history, literature, and philosophy-religion), International Business and Economics, or Social Studies (anthropology sociology, history, and political science). In recognition of our exceptional contribution to higher education in Japan, the Ministry of Education conferred us a “Good Practice” award for “Pioneering International Liberal Arts Education Connecting Japan and the World” in 2003. We are proud of the fact that ours is a highly demanding program, and we go a long way to ensuring that students strive to realize their full potential and meet future challenges. Rules and practices that are standard in the world’s top institutions (if still all too rare in Japanese universities) have long been part of the FLA tradition. These include: the choice of a major in the sophomore year; the recognition of academic excellence through Grade Point Average rankings and the Dean’s List; a highly favorable student to Faculty ratio; pay-by-course tuition fees; regular office hours at the Faculty; an intensive, semester-based curriculum; the summer session; spring and autumn admissions; and early graduation. Classes are lively, and professors create opportunities for students to experience the joy of producing original knowledge. For course assignments students are encouraged to use primary sources such as documents, interviews, and personal experience to produce novel facts, insights, and interpretations of Tokyo, Japan, Asia, and the world.

Individual members of the cosmopolitan teaching staff in the FLA are also internationally acclaimed authorities whose publications contribute to global scholarship, with a particular strength in themes related to Japan and Asia. Many teach in the Graduate Program in Global Studies which offers MA and PhD programs taught in English. AGLOS was recognized as part of a prestigious “Center of Excellence” by the Japanese Ministry of Education in 2002. The Faculty has also been associated with the editing and publication of Monumenta Nipponica, a renowned interdisciplinary journal on Japanese culture and society, originally founded in 1938 and one of the oldest English-language academic journals in Asian studies in the world.

Located in the heart of Tokyo – in the University’s main Yotsuya campus – the FLA forms the core of a thriving, diverse, cosmopolitan academe. Drawn from over 30 countries, the student body includes graduates of Japanese high schools and international schools, Japanese nationals educated abroad, and foreign degree and exchange students. Each year about 200 students are admitted to study for the BA degree in the FLA, while about 200 exchange students and 100 visiting foreign degree students come to study, usually for one year. There is a flourishing extracurricular student life on campus, with many student clubs and ‘circles’ based on a range of activities including sports, dance, music, arts, culture, and volunteering.

The Educational and Research Mission of the Faculty of Liberal Arts (FLA)

The FLA provides liberal arts education using English as the medium of instruction.
The FLA, based on the solid foundation of its core curriculum, educates students in the fields of comparative culture, social studies, and in international business and economics, bearing in mind the linkages among different disciplines and fields of knowledge. The FLA thereby seeks to educate individuals who, equipped with advanced linguistic skills and global competency, and with a flexible, critical mind, can serve as a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world.
Through faculty research, the FLA seeks to contribute to the understanding of our globalizing world and to solutions for the problems it faces.