Dr. Teeranee Techasrivichien, Assistant Professor at Kyoto University School of Public Health (KUSPH), has been involved in KUSPH’s Double Degree Program (DDP) and Top Global Course (TGC) for enthusiastic students. Here, she tells us about the appeal of the DDP and TGC.

The Double Degree Program

Two master’s degrees in two years or more
With an aim to promote multidisciplinary learning, KUSPH launched the DDP in 2014 with, initially, two Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) universities. The DDP offers the students a unique experience to obtain two master’s degrees, that are complementary but share common ground in public health (eg. Master of Public Health from KUSPH and Master of Medical Science from the partner university), in two years or more. To date, 15 students have been enrolled. Normally, it would take four years to complete two master’s degrees. However, this tough but time-efficient program with credit transfer and joint research systems enables a student to obtain two degrees, in just two years or more.

Challenging but rewarding
The DDP is quite challenging in terms of timeframe and workload because a student has to complete two sets of coursework and two separate theses within a limited period of time. However, this demanding program boosts the students’ skills in planning, project management, time management, and problem solving. Through their supervisors’ networks from both universities, DDP students can reach out to experts in their fields to enrich their knowledge and research.

The Top Global Course

Joint supervision of theses and networking
Another ambitious program offered at KUSPH is the TGC, which started in 2016. In alliance with renowned global educational institutions, KUSPH provides TGC students with the opportunity for joint research supervision of their theses from KUSPH supervisors and overseas co-supervisors.
In addition, the TGC encourages the students to develop leadership skills and be actively involved with KUSPH’s annual international conference, the Kyoto Global Conference for Rising Public Health Researchers (KGC), which serves as a platform for exchanging and sharing research ideas, experiences, and findings. At the conference, the students are able to showcase their studies, receive scientifically critical feedback so they can make improvements to their research, polish their presentation skills, and network with peers and experts who work in similar areas. Many participants noted that KGC was a great “learning opportunity”.

A chance to open intellectual horizons
Some TGC graduates described their participation in the program as “a meaningful experience,” “a chance to step out of Asia and enrich [their] research,” and “a chance to open [their] intellectual horizons.” Another graduate said, “TGC was definitely a highlight during my master’s degree at KUSPH. I was able to travel overseas and learn from experts in my research field. The trip was tremendous and had an impact on my experience and self-development skills.”

Students become competent, creative, and productive
“Our graduates are much more competent, creative, interdisciplinary, and productive [than others],” Dr. Techasrivichien asserts. “These programs proved that if the opportunity is provided to these young, passionate minds, they will realize and reach their full potential.” Seven DDP students (who have completed the program) and 16 TGC students (some of whom are still in the program) have authored 11 and 7 publications, respectively, although neither of the programs requires publications for degree completion.

Great determination is required
Applicants for the DDP or the TGC require great determination to take the challenge and pursue their research. They don’t necessarily have to have a complete research protocol to apply. The DDP and TGC are a great opportunity for students to seek supervisors who can help polish their research plans. “KUSPH is among a few graduate schools in Kyoto University that are fortunate to be a part of these programs,” Dr. Techasrivichien says. “I would like to encourage students to take the opportunity.”

(Dec. 2018)