The MBA Diary

Choosing Hitotsubashi

(Private post just published.)

Before I applied for the scholarship and program, I’ve never heard of Hitotsubashi University and its Graduate School for International Corporate Strategy. I’ve heard of a couple of good Japanese universities, but I’ve never heard of Hitotsubashi. At all!

I started doing research on business schools a few years ago. My comrades were aiming for the Ivys and Oxbridge, while I was already talking to people at INSEAD. Of the schools I considered, the business schools in Japan never came to mind.

Then I heard about the the Monbukagakusho YLP scholarship and started to learn more about the MBA that’s part of the package. I won’t lie — was actually concerned whether it was a good idea to apply for it. I mean, who goes to Japan for an MBA?! Probably people who are obsessed with Japan.

So again, is going to this Hitotsubashi University for an MBA a good idea?

It boils down to what you really want out of the experience, really.

I was having lunch with Fuji-san (my translator at the time) at the airport before I returned to KL this one time. We were talking about the higher learning institutions in Japan, so I told her of my plans to try to further my studies at a business school in Tokyo.

“So… what are the best business schools there?”

“Business schools? Hmm Waseda and Keio are very good!”

“What about Hitotsubashi?”

“Ehhh! Hitotsubashi?”

She then nodded enthusiastically, telling me Hitotsubashi is a great name and telling me to go for it.

“Ganbatte kudasai!”

Curious, I did s more thorough research after that.

Hitotsubashi University is one of the oldest higher learning institutions around. It was founded in Tokyo as a national school specializing in business and commerce more than 100 years ago. The university offers different programs in social science (in Japanese). It’s described as a prestigious university, the alma mater of many notable people in the government (e.g. ministers) and corporate (e.g. CEOs from big corporations like Rakuten) sectors in Japan and reportedly has one of the most beautiful campus in Greater Tokyo.

Hitotsubashi University’s Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy (ICS) was established not too long ago by Japanese professors, Harvard MBAs holders who want to change the MBA scene in Japan. It’s focused on offering a more global approach to MBA compared to the ones normally taught at Japanese universities. ICS is located in the city and conducted differently from the main campus.

Here are the things I found out about the Hitotsubashi ICS:

First, everything is conducted in English by lecturers who are proficient in the language. The curriculum approach is very western, where classes are very interactive — a clip on the school’s website shows how classes are conducted: a lecturer was making his points based on a case and the students were all putting their hands up to participate in the discussion, giving their piece of mind, unlike the average Japanese style of only listening to lectures.

Second, they’ve got courses on international business, strategy and economies — thing I love and the direction I wish to head to. I’ll get to learn more about global issues and at the same time, learn more about Japan!

Third, from the data provided on the website, the classes are very small (50-ish students enrolling per year) with students from diverse geographical, academic and industry backgrounds. This results in low faculty to student ratio, which means that it’s easier to reach out to them.

Fourth, is the strength of the faculty. I think the faculty generally has an impressive background in terms of education, working and teaching experience. They look so sharp, too.

Fifth, it’s located in Tokyo! Close to the heart of the city!

I also started looking out for the things people have said about the school in MBA online forums and so far, the results have been very positive. Although the brand is almost unknown globally, in Japan, it’s a big thing to graduate from Hitotsubashi.

I felt more confident about the school and applying after that.

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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    October 15, 2015 at 5:54 PM

    ommgg thank you for this post!
    i’d love to hear more on your journey to hitotsubashi!
    im actually comtemplating if i should be taking my MBA in japan or western countries. and honestly i prefer japan.
    but then again.. my japanese skills.. HAHAHA – work hard work hard! so in the meantime i would be getting a job for experiences purposes. (:

    look forward for your updates! i could be a junior? 😀


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