The Master of Science in Sustainability programme is a two-year programme, which provides students with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to contribute to solving challenges of sustainability. Drawing on an innovative, interdisciplinary approach, the programme integrates methods and resources from the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. The programme is intended for recent graduates, professionals and practitioners who seek to meaningfully contribute to the work of governments, civil society, the private sector, and/or the UN and other international organizations in the area of sustainability.
The programme builds on UNU’s strong record in research and capacity development, as well as the extensive network of scholars and academic institutions participating in UNU research. The programme is practice-oriented, user-focused, and of the highest academic quality. It provides students with unique opportunities to interact with leading scholars and policymakers through lectures, international conferences, and workshops.
The programme starts in September, and by July of the second year students must complete the course requirements, obtaining at least 30 credits. Students can select courses from those offered by UNU-IAS, while also enjoying the opportunity to take courses at other leading universities in Japan such as the University of Tokyo, Sophia University, International Christian University, and Yokohama National University.
This information can also be downloaded as a Programme Brochure.
The programme is taught by an expert teaching faculty comprising both UNU-IAS academic staff and invited distinguished scholars and practitioners.
UNU-IAS and the Department of Urban Engineering in the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo are going to launch a double master’s degree programme. Enrolled students will first spend two years at the University of Tokyo and obtain a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Tokyo. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, students will enroll in the UNU-IAS master’s degree programme for one year, and will obtain a Master of Science in Sustainability degree. The total amount of time required for this double degree programme is three years.
If you wish to apply to this double degree programme, you must be accepted to both master’s degree programmes (the UNU-IAS MSc in Sustainability, and the Master of Engineering offered by the University of Tokyo). Information on the Master of Engineering degree is available on the University of Tokyo website. Please note that each university has different admission requirements and application deadlines.
Students of the UNU-IAS master’s degree programme are also encouraged to pursue one of two joint diplomas in sustainability science, which are offered in partnership with the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences (UT-GSFS), and with Sophia University. These diploma programmes require students to gain 34 credits, of which eight must be from courses specified by UNU-IAS and the partner university under the respective joint diploma programme. A joint diploma can only be awarded to students who successfully complete the two-year UNU-IAS master’s degree programme.
UNU-IAS is a global university located in Tokyo, with all classes conducted in English. Sharing a building with many UN agencies, it offers a unique learning environment for its diverse and international student body. The master’s degree programme includes courses featuring more than 15 international guest lecturers from leading agencies and institutions, providing students with opportunities to learn from their unique expertise and experience. The class sizes are sufficiently small and students benefit from interactive and personalized teaching.
The UNU Library offers access to a range of academic books, over 20,000 electronic journals, official UN documents issued since 1946, and publications in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development e-libraries. All students are provided with a comprehensive library orientation session at the beginning of the course. Students also have access to the libraries of International Christian University, Ochanomizu University, Sophia University, Temple University Japan, and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
Computers are provided for students, with software to cater to the needs of each course, including geographic information systems (GIS).
Our teaching programme is closely interconnected with UNU-IAS research activities across three thematic research areas (Sustainable Societies, Natural Capital and Biodiversity, Global Change and Resilience). Students have opportunities to gain practical experience by engaging actively in the institute’s research projects. Student research is expected to contribute to the project with which the student chooses to be affiliated; and students hone skills learned in the classroom by conducting research in the field alongside experts and seasoned practitioners.
UNU-IAS assists students from the time of their registration to graduation, acknowledging that students may experience difficulties adjusting to a new country and culture.
An induction programme is conducted at the beginning of the academic session, introducing students to the staff responsible for specific student services, and familiarizing students with the campus through a tour of the facilities.
Students are provided with a handbook about living in Tokyo prior to their arrival, including information on how to find and secure accommodation.
The Academic Calendar shows important dates and university holidays for the academic year.
The UNU-IAS Postgraduate Programmes in Sustainability / Sustainability Science seeks students with the following qualities:
1. Students who possess a firm academic interest in the pressing global issues on the UN agenda, in particular those of sustainability, and a strong desire to contribute to the solving of problems concerning global environment and society through a transdisciplinary approach;
2. Students who have adequate research skills and clear questions related to global issues as well as a strong desire to engage in research in UNU-IAS thematic areas, with the potential and motivation to succeed in our programmes;
3. Students who have the intention to proactively apply academic research findings to policymaking, and aim to pursue careers in international fields in public service or private organisations, including United Nations, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organisations as well as research academic institutions.
Applicants for the Master of Science in Sustainability are required to have met the following requirements by the application deadline in order to be considered. Those who wish to participate in the double degree programme of UNU-IAS and the University of Tokyo (Department of Urban Engineering in the Graduate School of Engineering) must be shortlisted by the University of Tokyo before submitting an application to UNU-IAS.
The minimum score requirements for English language qualifications required by UNU-IAS are:
Applicants, excluding those listed below, must submit original TOEFL or IELTS score reports (from a test taken within the last two years) to Admissions Office once they are shortlisted for interviews. For the 2022 admissions, UNU-IAS accepts scores of TOEFL iBT Home Edition and IELTS Indicator in addition to TOEFL PBT, TOEFL iBT and IELTS. Please find more details on score reports in the application instructions. The following applicants are exempt from submitting score reports:
UNU-IAS requires original TOEFL/IELTS score reports (no photocopies accepted).
Application Processing Fee: None
Tuition Fee: USD 10,000 per year
The estimated total expenses for living and studying in Tokyo for 2 years are approximately USD 56,000, including tuition. Applicants must ensure adequate financial resources to meet the full costs of educational and living expenses.
Applications for 2022 entry are now open. Please check the Application Guideline for more information.
If you are interested in applying for the programme, attending the Online Open House event is strongly encouraged:
UNU-IAS may at any time require applicants to provide verification of the information and documents submitted as part of their application and/or additional information including, but not limited to, an interview.
Please do not call the Admissions Office regarding application status or admission decisions as we will not release them by phone.
Those who wish to withdraw from the application process should contact the Admissions Office through the online inquiry form. When submitting the form, please ensure that “MSc Degree” is selected as the topic of your inquiry, and please use the same email address you used when submitting your application.
The award of the scholarships listed below is based on application selection results. Only applicants that are accepted for enrolment in the UNU-IAS Master of Science in Sustainability programme can be considered as candidates for the scholarships. There is no separate application form for the scholarships as it is a part of the online application for admission. Interested applicants must provide necessary information and documents for the scholarship together with the required documents for admission to the master’s degree programme.
The JFUNU scholarship provides a monthly allowance of 120,000 JPY* for living expenses for a maximum of 24 months. However, travel costs to and from Japan, visa handling fees, and health/accident insurance costs must be covered by the student. The tuition fees are fully waived for the scholarship recipients.
*The amount of monthly allowance has been changed to 120,000 JPY effective 2017.
*Developing countries included in the latest OECD DAC list.
The UNU Rector’s scholarship provides a monthly allowance of 130,000 JPY (subject to change) for living expenses for a maximum of 24 months. Travel costs to and from Japan, will be covered by the scholarship. The tuition fees are covered by the donor for the scholarship recipients.
*Developing countries included in the latest OECD DAC list.
The Resona Bank scholarship provides a monthly allowance of 130,000 JPY (subject to change) for living expenses for a maximum of 24 months. Travel costs to and from Japan, will be covered by the scholarship (up to JPY 260,000). The tuition fees are covered by the donor for the scholarship recipients.
*Developing countries included in the latest OECD DAC list.
A limited number of scholarships are offered for the UNU-IAS Master of Science in Sustainability programme under the Asian Development Bank–Japan Scholarship Program (ADB–JSP). The award of the scholarship is based on application selection results. Only applicants that are accepted for enrolment in the UNU-IAS Master of Science in Sustainability programme can be considered as candidates for the ADB scholarship.
Full tuition, subsistence allowance including housing allowance, medical and accident insurance, books, and instrumental allowance will be covered by the scholarship. The monthly subsistence allowance including housing allowance for one person for the academic year 2020 is JPY 147,000 (subject to change for the academic year 2021). An economy class airfare will also be provided for the most direct route between the scholar’s home country and Tokyo Narita International Airport.
Further information is available on the ADB website.
Interested applicants should submit the following documents in addition to the application documents required by UNU-IAS. Please upload the following documents under section 7c of the online application form.
Note: Each income certificate must show annual income in your local currency and US dollars, and be written in English with a signature or a stamp. Please only submit authorized certificates issued by public agencies. For parents who are retired, unemployed or deceased, kindly submit a certificate issued by a local agency, company or government, with a signature or a stamp as applicable.
Each student is required to obtain at least 30 credits to receive a master’s degree, in keeping with the instructions that will be provided during orientation.
Note: The curriculum is reviewed on a yearly basis, so the course offerings may not be identical to the ones listed below.
Overview Courses (Compulsory)
Courses marked with * are compulsory for first-year MSc and PhD students.
A wide range of elective courses offered by partner universities are also available to UNU-IAS students through credit exchange arrangements.
If your question is not covered in the FAQ, please contact us using the online inquiry form. Please ensure that “MSc Degree” is selected as the topic of your inquiry. If you have already submitted an application to us, please use the same email address on the inquiry form.
United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS)
53-70, Jingumae 5-chome
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925, Japan
T: +81 (0)3 5467-1212