With its innovative international liberal arts educational philosophy, Akita International University's mission is to prepare students to be leaders in global society; to be people who have established a strong sense of self, who are able to rise to the challenges of the times with integrity and passion, and who commit themselves to serving their local community and the world.
In order to achieve this mission, the international liberal arts education at AIU is designed to enable students to acquire a broad scope of knowledge and understanding of world affairs, to sharpen their analytical skills, to help them gain insight into the critical issues of our times and develop a global outlook, as it also equips them with the ability to communicate effectively in English and other languages.
In concrete terms, AIU designates the following 8 items as its educational goals for its students:
- Acquiring a command of English and other world languages that enables effective engagement and collaboration with people from multiple cultural and linguistic backgrounds
- Acquiring a broad knowledge of world cultures, human societies and the natural world
- Acquiring a nuanced understanding of one's own cultural and self-identity
- Acquiring a multi-dimensional appreciation of the complex issues of our times
- Acquiring the intellectual and practical skills necessary for disciplined observation and reasoning, principled inquiry, reflection, and thoughtful action
- Acquiring the ability to integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines and resources
- Acquiring the capacity for creative, autonomous thought and the ability to make independent, informed decisions
- Acquiring a sense of personal and social responsibility that stems from and leads to active civic engagement at local and global levels
AIU will award Bachelor of Arts in International Liberal Arts to students who have successfully acquired the above mentioned goals and have successfully fulfilled graduation requirements in either Global Business, Global Studies or Global Connectivity.
In order to receive a B.A. degree from AIU, in principle, a student should have completed the prescribed course requirements and earned 124 credits or more with a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or above. As an exceptional case, a student who satisfies all the requirements and conditions may be allowed to graduate after completing three years of accelerated studies.
A mandatory one-year study abroad experience is also a graduation requirement. Through their study abroad experiences, students are expected to make progress toward completing their study plan requirements, and by using their English and other language skills effectively, deepen their understanding of other cultural and intellectual perspectives, and further develop as autonomous learners able to identify creative solutions to problems and difficulties.
The AIU curriculum is designed to achieve the university's learning goals, which are based on the diploma policy. The following methods of inquiry are woven into the curriculum: critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, empirical methods, social science perspectives and humanistic perspectives. All classes are taught in English, most are small in size.
New students, while attending orientation courses, are divided into level-specific courses of English to receive training in English for Academic Purposes (EAP), where they also study basic learning skills for university study. After Students finish the EAP Program, they will start studying Foundation Courses and Core Liberal Arts Courses. These courses will fall into the academic areas of the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Foreign Languages, Health & Physical Education, and Japan Studies. At this stage, students have to fulfill various course requirements that will provide that students take a well-balanced set of courses. As students complete 30 credits, including those credits that they earned from their EAP courses, they will choose enrolment in one of these programs: Global Business, Global Studies, or Global Connectivity. In their selected programs they will pursue Advanced Liberal Arts credits and continue to acquire deeper knowledge, essential analytical skills, creative problem solving skills, practical skills, and communication skills. While enrolled in their programs, students will consider their Field of Study (Cluster) while registering for, and completing, their Advanced Liberal Arts Credits. Once students achieve the necessary level of English competence and the minimum number of credits, they are required to study abroad for one year. During study abroad, they continue to pursue their study plan, and directly experience different languages, cultures, people and value systems, with these experiences enabling them to grow as human beings. After their study abroad, students are required to join capstone seminars in their selected programs to complete their programs of study and, if necessary, finish any remaining courses required for graduation.
Syllabi are prepared for each course to inform students of the course schedule, grading system, and other details. In addition to referring to syllabi, students receive academic guidance from their faculty advisors. Academic advising helps students in creating their study plan and selecting an appropriate study abroad destination.
In classes, group work, discussion, debate, and student presentations are introduced in order to encourage students' active learning. In some courses, innovative approaches such as field work, project based learning (PBL*1), and flipped classes via digital media are introduced. Students are required to actively participate in their classes. At least two hours self-study for every class hour are necessary to prepare for, and obtain the full benefit of, courses.
Grading is made on an absolute basis and grading criteria are clarified in the syllabus for each course. Each student's academic performance is monitored through their GPA. A GPA of 2.50 or above is required to qualify for study abroad and, to qualify for graduation, a GPA of 2.00 or above must be achieved. Students with lower GPAs than the established standard receive special advising and care (SAC) to address their academic problems.
To provide career support at AIU, a career design course is required and internship courses are also an option. AIU not only supports students in job placement, but also encourages students to study at the graduate level and advice and guidance for either option is provided by academic advisors and from the Academic Career Support Center.
Students who wish to peruse teaching in Japan as a profession can earn a Senior High School Teacher's Primary License for English. This license is authorized by the Japanese government and earned by completing the Teacher's License Program as an additional program with the credits earned for the program being separate from AIU graduation requirements.
*1 PBL is an abbreviation for Project-Based Learning, and is a learning method in which students identify problems on a specific theme, work in groups, and find solutions.
Akita International University (AIU) seeks to grant admission to applicants who understand AIU’s learning goals; applicants who are equipped with academic competencies and aptitudes that will enable them to actively engage with and benefit from the course of study at AIU; applicants who have strong motivation for independent study and keen awareness about compelling issues confronting society today. AIU's selection system is designed to allow formation of diverse cohorts of students who appreciate the joy of competing and cooperating with their peers to enrich the learning experience for all as they prepare to be leaders in global society.
Successful applicants should be equipped with:
- Balanced basic academic competencies across the broad fields of the humanities, the natural and social sciences, as well as logical, critical and creative thinking skills and outstanding ability or experience in specific areas that they are enthusiastic about further developing within the scope of their learning
- Strong interest and an inquiring mind toward global affairs including the nature of diverse cultures, languages, history and societies of the world based on their experiences in having studied abroad or participated in various international activities in and out of their countries
- Strong desire to gain practical skills of foreign languages (especially English) and knowledge from a broad range of liberal-arts subjects
Applicants are also expected to have deepened their knowledge and interest in global society through their study at high school and to be well equipped with basic knowledge of Japanese history, society and culture as well as world history.
After acceptance at AIU, students are required in their studies to show:
- Strong commitment to acquire sufficient practical skills of English to master their liberal-arts study in English
- Appreciation of and a spirit to actively challenge the AIU curriculum, which requires taking a balance of courses from across the curriculum
- Strong will to creatively pursue their study as an independent learner, facing difficult challenges in their study abroad, and a passion to enhance their capability to collaborate with their colleague students and/or people in the country while studying abroad
To select such students, AIU implements the following examinations:
Through the Common Test for University Admissions, AIU looks at each applicant's basic academic aptitudes at the high school level, and through AIU's original entrance examination tests for the presence of well-balanced academic skills, logical, critical and creative thinking abilities with some consideration for differences in the applicant's concentration for different subjects. General selections are implemented in a number of examination categories. Applicants for general selection may also apply for other universities in addition to AIU.
Through examinations and interviews, or documents submitted by the applicants, AIU selects students holistically considering logical thinking skills and English proficiency in reading and oral expression, good records of high-school performances and experiences, passion and attitude for learning, consciousness for problems in society, and other things.