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東京大学公共政策大学院 | GraSPP / Graduate School of Public Policy | The university of Tokyo

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Journey from Masters to PhD in GraSPP

Somnath Sharma (from India) Class of 2017

Being a student as well as a practitioner of economics I was looking forward to do a doctoral degree in a course which gives me a freedom to amalgamate the theoretical knowledge in economics in solving the real life problems. It was then I got an information about Graduate School of Public Policy(GraSPP) at the University of Tokyo through the Japan-IMF Scholarship Program for Asia(JISPA). Back in India, I was aware that the University of Tokyo enjoys the most prestigious university status in Japan and it is one of the most reputed universities globally. I made a decision that if I was selected to the JISPA I was going to give my first preference to the GraSPP over the other available options. I got selected into the MPP/IP program and joined the program with students from many other countries. Being a foreigner in a Non-English speaking country used to bother me slightly, but when I landed here the GraSPP administration had arranged for every kind of support which an international student may require at the initial stage of settling down in Japan. The GraSPP fraternity itself was very welcoming with a mix of students from both Japan and outside.

The MPP/IP courses was very well designed and were taught by very skilled faculty members who make sure that we learn the skills and implement them for the benefit of the society. I took all the optional courses which I liked and was hugely benefitted. The course structure included a perfect mix of courses which are theoretical and compulsory and elective courses which prepare to specialize in the area of your interest.

My supervisor for the master’s thesis always used to inspire me to keep looking for what interests me in the field of social science, especially, in the area of economics. It was during that time that I decided to go ahead and pursue the Doctoral Program from the GraSPP with the specialization in International Finance and Development. The requirement for the selection into the Doctoral Program was a bit rigorous as it required a good performance in the specific courses which are designed especially for the Doctoral studies. After a lot of hard work, I could manage to qualify for the Doctoral Program at the GraSPP. I entered into the program with several other students from different countries and with different areas of interests. The course requirements for the Doctoral degree involves the courses which help you in gaining skills as well as develop an overall perspective to look into the social and public policy issues. Courses like Research Design Workshops and Project Design Workshops enable you to present your research outputs before the faculties of the related fields and also the experts and get their feedback to improve your research and it is a continuous process. It is designed in a way that give more weightage to the research.

I have been hugely benefitted from workshops and seminars (for example, Tokyo Workshop on International and Development Economics (TWID)) in which the external experts come and give a talk or present their works almost regularly. Also, the GSDM (Global Leader Program for Social design and Management), in which I was briefly a part of, provides a wonderful platform to use your research in a way which can help solve the pertaining issues of the society. It provides an opportunity to interact and collaborate with the scholars from different fields of science and social science.

The GraSPP administration makes sure that as a doctoral student you get all the help and support in conducting your research with a free mind. So far, the Doctoral Program has been quite a learning and rewarding experience for me.