Policies on Curricula and Granting Degrees (Master’s Program)

Hirosaki University Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Science (Master’s Program)
Policies on Curricula and Granting Degrees

1.Curriculum Target

  • Mastery of research methods built on the knowledge and skills acquired from specialized courses, and an ability to develop deep, original reasoning skills as a researcher
  • Mastery of problem-solving skills built on the knowledge and skills acquired from specialized courses, and an ability to propose practical solutions for sustainable community development as a highly skilled professional

2.Policies on Curriculum Organization

Building upon specialized fundamental courses for undergraduates, graduate students further develop critical thinking skills and acquire the advanced expertise needed by researchers and technical experts. The curriculum also encourages students to pursue a doctoral degree at the United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences at Iwate University.

  • An “academic research program (researcher-oriented)” and an “academic research program (technical expert-oriented)” are offered in each course to match students’ diverse needs.
  • In addition, a “practice-oriented research program for part-time students,” with reduced course credits required for graduation, is available for part-time students who are employed but willing to continue their education and meet the needs of faculties for re-education.
  • Interdisciplinary courses such as a “cross-course” and courses designed to fill gaps between different academic fields referred to as “sub-courses” are offered to meet shifting social demands, enabling students to customize their study beyond the limits of their respective graduate courses.
  • “Specialized courses” and “sub-courses” in each graduate course are evenly available between spring and fall semesters to avoid any disadvantages in course planning for students entering the program in the fall. Upon entering the graduate school, students may take all available graduate school “common courses.”

3.Assessment Criteria

Credits are generally granted based on examination scores; however, some courses will grant credits based on everyday grades or results from reports and other materials. Grades for each course strictly adhere to the criteria stipulated below.

A(100–90) Is able to relate and apply highly specialized knowledge and abilities to other academic areas
B(89–80) Mastered highly specialized knowledge and abilities, and is able to practice the skills obtained
C(79–70) Mastered fundamental and specialized knowledge and abilities
D(69–60) Mastered a minimal level of highly specialized knowledge and abilities
F(59–0) Did not master a minimal level of highly specialized knowledge and abilities

4.Master’s Thesis Defense

To obtain a Master’s Degree in this program, students are required to study for at least 2 years and earn at least 32 course credits, and pass the review and final examination for the thesis after receiving necessary research supervision.

Part-time students who are also employed may choose to substitute the master’s thesis for a research report with the approval of the supervisor.

Assessment of the master’s thesis or research report is conducted strictly through a review of the paper and a final examination by one primary reviewer and two co-reviewers.

The master’s thesis must be at a level suitable for publication in scientific journals and as such, must provide new knowledge. The research report must be such that it reinforces or reaffirms previous knowledge.

Biology Program

1.Curriculum Overview

Universality observed in basic life activities of all organisms and biodiversity observed in morphology and behaviors of individuals are formed by mutual interaction between DNA and the surrounding environment. This program focuses on research related to understanding factors supporting basic life activity processes and their mechanisms, including development, energy metabolism, adaptation, and evolution, as well as research on dynamic and composite biological and ecological systems formed through the mutual interaction of individuals, the environment, and biodiversity. Through this research, the program develops researchers in biological fields, biotechnology experts related to agriculture and food products, and specialized experts for the conservation of ecosystems.

2.Curriculum Target

① Knowledge and Understanding
  1. Mastering and understanding advanced knowledge and critical thinking based on this knowledge needed for research and development related to the diverse biological phenomena of biological individuals and groups
  2. Mastery and understanding advanced knowledge and critical thinking based on this knowledge needed for research and development related to protecting and conserving the natural environment
② Discipline-Specific Abilities
  1. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to the understanding of diverse biological phenomena of biological individuals and groups
  2. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to protecting and conserving the natural environment
  3. Understanding and use of advanced scientific English
③ General Abilities
  1. Collect information pertaining to research and development
  2. Cooperate with others and behave independently in research and development activities
  3. Actively participate in academic debates
  4. Publish research at academic conferences and as papers
  5. Plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development to solve relevant societal problems

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program

1.Curriculum Overview

Life is constantly sustained by the many chemical reactions of biological molecules (enzyme reaction system). Technologies that utilize such systems are expected to play an important multifaceted role in the near future. This program is designed to develop researchers, highly-specialized experts, or Ph.D. candidates with an international perspective who can thrive in society, by providing specialized knowledge and skills related to research in biological functions and reaction mechanisms and the production and control of material by organisms. The program thus teaches specialized knowledge and technologies to foster an understanding of life functions at a cellular, genetic, and molecular level and material production control. Through independent research, graduate students nurture in-depth knowledge and advanced skills to excel in professions that require highly specialized expertise, and ultimately contribute to the development of our culture.

2.Curriculum Target

① Knowledge and Understanding

Master fundamental knowledge on organic chemistry and biochemistry, and master the fundamental and specialized knowledge needed to understand biological functions at a molecular level

② Discipline-Specific Abilities

Acquire fundamental academic skills in molecular biology, cellular biology, natural products chemistry, enzyme chemistry, and applied microbiology, and an ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to such academic fields

③ General Abilities

Willingness to challenge new academic fields, and the acquisition of problem-setting and problem-solving skills to employ achievements as a service to humankind

Applied Biosciences Program

1.Curriculum Overview

This program is designed to transform graduate students into skilled individuals specialized in the research and development of breeding technologies for new food plant varieties, soil and pest management in food plant production, and food product function and safety to ensure sufficient, environment-friendly, sustainable food supply.

The program therefore requires that graduate students take courses on the research methods needed for research development and publication, technical English, and presentation skills. The latest knowledge related to this course is provided as specialized courses. Research topics are provided to graduate students, who will conduct research for two years in Special Research I and II. Through the research, students are expected to develop practical research, development, and communication skills.

2.Curriculum Target

① Knowledge and Understanding
  1. Mastery and understanding of the advanced knowledge needed for research and development related to plant breeding
  2. Mastery and understanding of the advanced knowledge needed for research and development related to diverse functions and food product safety
  3. Mastery and understanding of advanced knowledge, especially soil chemistry and soil microbiology, needed for research and development related to a soil environment to ensure healthy crop growth
  4. Mastery and understanding of the advanced knowledge, especially mycology, plant pathogenic microbiology, and insect physiology needed for research and development related to plant pest control to ensure healthy crop growth
② Discipline-Specific Abilities
  1. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to plant breeding
  2. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to diverse functions and food product safety
  3. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to a soil environment to ensure healthy crop growth
  4. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to plant pest control to ensure healthy crop growth
③ General Abilities
  1. Collect information pertaining to research and development
  2. Cooperate and behave independently in research and development activities as a member of the research and development (R&D) team
  3. Actively participate in academic debates
  4. Publish research at academic conferences and as papers, and reach out to the general public to share research content in a shared language

Agriculture and Horticulture Program

1.Curriculum Overview

The program focuses on research to develop agricultural production techniques, revitalize agriculture, and improve food and the environment to establish sustainable and multi-functional agriculture and human livelihoods. Graduate students acquire specialist expertise and knowledge in agricultural production and agricultural management, economy, and distribution, and develop abilities to independently identify and solve problems in each area of expertise.

2.Curriculum Target

① Knowledge and Understanding
  1. Mastery and understanding of the advanced knowledge needed for research and development in each specialized field
  2. Mastery and understanding of the advanced knowledge needed for research and development to identify and solve agricultural production problems
  3. Mastery and understanding of the advanced knowledge needed for research and development related to food and agricultural functions in cultural, social, and natural contexts
② Discipline-Specific Abilities
  1. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to technical characteristics and modern problems in agricultural production of each product
  2. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to improving agricultural production efficiency
  3. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to the application of agricultural production technologies at work sites
  4. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to agricultural management, economics, and distribution
  5. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development pertaining to comprehensive understanding of problems in food and agriculture from natural and social sciences perspectives
  6. Ability to plan, implement, and assess the results of research and development related to policy making to solve agricultural and horticultural problems through practical and appropriate qualities and abilities based on the abilities described in points A to E
③ General Abilities
  1. Collect information pertaining to research and development
  2. Cooperate and behave independently in research and development activities
  3. Actively participate in academic debates
  4. Publish research at academic conferences and as papers

Agricultural and Environmental Engineering Program

1.Curriculum Overview

The program is designed to transform graduate students into highly skilled individuals with independent problem-solving skills and highly specialized knowledge and skills for the management of production infrastructure, maintenance of the living environment for local residents, and development of planning methods, all with regard to the protection and conservation of the natural environment. All programs therefore require that students take courses on research methodology and presentation skills. Required courses also include research, hands-on exercises, and seminars customized for each program, as well as courses on water, soil, infrastructure, and environment specifically designed for this course.

2.Curriculum Target

① Knowledge and Understanding
  1. Structured and expert understanding of agricultural engineering and the rural environment
  2. Comprehensive understanding of local issues
  3. Expert understanding on water, soil, infrastructure, disaster prevention, and the environment
② Discipline-Specific Abilities
  1. Ability to scientifically analyze rural community issues
  2. Knowledge for planning solutions to problems based on an understanding of agricultural engineering, the local community, and the environment
  3. Specialized and comprehensive knowledge on skills and policies for implementing plans
③ General Abilities
  1. Ability to view local issues at both local and global levels
  2. Aptitude for learning theories by working on practical issues
  3. Self-management, communication, and mindfulness for others, and understanding and practicing social responsibility
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