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United Nations University MSc in Sustainability Program with Scholarships, Japan

Publish Date: Feb 05, 2016

Deadline: Mar 18, 2016

The Master of Science in Sustainability programme equips students with the knowledge and 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 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 practically oriented, user-focused, and of the highest academic quality. It is intended for recent graduates, professionals and practitioners interested in the unique opportunity to study at a global university and gain valuable skills, which will enable them as international professionals to meaningfully contribute to the work of governments, civil society, the private sector, and the UN and other international organizations.

Students are required to earn more than 30 credits for the master’s degree, and can take courses from UNU-IAS and partner universities in Japan. Students are also encouraged to take a joint diploma offered by the UNU-IAS and The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences (UT-GSFS) on Sustainability. The diploma requires students to gain 34 credits, eight of which should be from a pool of courses designated by UNU-IAS and UT-GSFS under the joint diploma programme. A joint diploma can only be awarded to students who successfully complete the two-year master’s degree programme.

The standard period of study is two years; the programme starts in September, with students expected to complete all the requirements by July in the second academic year after enrollment.

Course Information

For information on the specific courses offered as part of this degree programme, please visit the the curriculum information page on the UNU-IAS online learning website.


The programme is taught by an expert teaching faculty comprising both UNU-IAS academic staff and invited distinguished scholars and practitioners.

Learning Environment and Facilities

Sharing a building with many UN agencies, UNU-IAS offers a unique learning environment for its diverse international student body.

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 Organisation 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.

A dedicated computer lab is provided for students, with software to cater to the needs of each course, including GIS, environmental modelling applications, and statistical analysis tools. In addition, students have access to a number of international conferences, workshops, and symposiums at the university.


UNU-IAS provides an international environment, with faculty, staff and students of different nationalities. The MSc 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.

Student Support

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.

Academic Calendar

The Academic Calendar shows important dates and university holidays for the academic year.

UNU-IAS welcomes applicants with:

  • a keen interest in the pressing global issues on the UN agenda and in particular those of sustainability;
  • an aspiration to pursue careers in international fields in public service or private organizations, including the United Nations, multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations as well as research and academic institutions;
  • the intention to proactively apply academic research findings to policymaking; and
  • a strong desire to contribute to the solving of problems concerning global environment, through an interdisciplinary approach.

Admissions Requirements

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:

  • A strong interest in sustainability studies.
  • Demonstrated commitment to study and understand global issues.
  • A completed bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from a recognized university or institution of higher education in a field related to sustainability. Those who expect to graduate and have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent conferred before September 2016 may also apply.
  • A GPA of 3.5 or above on a 4.0 scale on the bachelor’s degree earned.
  • English language proficiency. Please see the section below for more details.

English Language Requirements

The minimum score requirements for English language qualifications required by UNU-IAS are:

  • 600 in TOEFL – Paper-Based Testing (PBT)
  • 100 in TOEFL – Internet-Based Testing (IBT)
  • 7.0 in IELTS – Academic format

Applicants, except for the cases below, must submit original TOEFL or IELTS score reports (from a test taken within the last two years) to Admissions Office at the time of application:

  • Applicants whose first language is English.
  • Applicants who graduated from a university or a postgraduate school located in an English speaking country.(IBT)
  • Applicants who completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme where the language of instruction and examination was English. In this case, an official statement from the academic institution will be required, confirming the use of English as the language of instruction and examination.

UNU-IAS requires original TOEFL/IELTS score reports (no photocopies accepted).

  • TOEFL: Please order an official score report using an institution code 6991. For more information on TOEFL, please visit http://www.ets.org/toefl/
  • IELTS: Please request that an official report be sent directly to UNU-IAS. For more information on IELTS, please visit http://www.ielts.org/


Application Processing Fee: None

Tuition Fee: 10,000 USD per year

Estimated total expenses for the master’s degree programme for 2 years including tuition are approximately  56,000 USD. Applicants must show financial resources adequate to meet the full costs of educational and living expenses.


Online Application Form

Your official application must be submitted through the online application form. You will need to create a user account to submit your applications. The online form can be saved and returned to at any time before submitting.

Selection and Announcement of Results

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.

  • The successful applicants will be notified by email to the address provided on Application Form. Necessary documents for the admission procedure will be sent together with a letter of acceptance.Successful applicants must submit a medical certificate. Only successful applicants – except those accepted as JFUNU and ADB-JSP scholarship recipients – who submit the necessary documents for the entrance procedure and transfer 50% of the tuition fees for the first academic year (5,000 USD, non-refundable) within 10 UNU working days after result announcement will be admitted to the programme. (Please refer to UNU Holidays on Academic Calendar page) The matriculation date (early September 2016) cannot be extended, regardless of any special circumstances on the part of the student.
  • The unsuccessful applicants will be notified by e-mail to the address provided on Application Form. Admissions Office does not provide individual feedback on unsuccessful applications.
  • E-mail will be the primary method of contact. Therefore, it is essential that applicants provide a valid e-mail address in the Application Form and that he/she regularly checks his/her e-mail. Please ensure that our e-mails are not filtered into spam or junk folder. UNU-IAS will not be held responsible for unread e-mail communication.

Please do not call the Admissions Office regarding application status or admission decisions as we will not release them by phone.

Important Notes

  • All application forms must be typed and filled in English. No handwritten or incomplete application documents will be considered.
  • All materials and documents submitted as part of an application become the property of UNU-IAS and cannot be returned.
  • If any falsification is discovered in any of the documents presented for application, admission will be revoked.
  • Unsuccessful applicants of previous years who reapply for admission must submit a completely new set of application documents, including letters of reference. No previous application materials will act as supporting resource.

Withdrawing an Application

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.

Japan Foundation for UNU (JFUNU) Scholarship

The Japan Foundation for UNU (JFUNU) Scholarship is available for outstanding applicants from developing countries* who can demonstrate a need for financial assistance, and they will be considered as candidates for the award of the scholarship.

*The developing countries listed in the latest OECD DAC list.

The JFUNU scholarship provides a monthly allowance of 150,000 JPY* for living expenses for a maximum of 24 months. 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.

*150,000 JPY is the average monthly living cost for an international student without dependents in Tokyo, although this amount may vary depending on the lifestyle of the student.

Please note that applicants who want to pursue a second master’s degree at UNU-IAS is not eligible for the scholarship.

Asian Development Bank–Japan Sponsorship Program (ADB–JSP)

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.

I. Eligibility requirements to be a candidate of ADB-JSP scholarship

  1. Citizens of the developing countries that are borrowing members of the Asian Development Bank. (Applicants from countries that are no longer borrowing from ADB are not eligible for the ADB–JSP Scholarship: Hong Kong; the Republic of Korea; Singapore and Taiwan (Republic of China)
  2. A Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent with superior academic record. For applicants from Nepal, Bangladesh or Pakistan who have earned their Master’s degree in their home country and have completed only 16 years of education, their master’s level education will only be equivalent to a Japanese bachelor’s degree.
  3. At least two years of full-time professional working experience (acquired after a university degree) at the time of application.
  4. Proficiency in oral and written English communication skills to be able to pursue studies.
  5. Not more than 35 years old at the time of application.
  6. In good health.
  7. Should agree to return to his/her home country after completion of studies under the Program.
  8. Executive Directors, Alternate Directors, management and staff of ADB, consultants, and relatives of the aforementioned are not eligible for the Scholarship.
  9. Applicants living or working in a country other than his/her home country are not eligible for the ADB-JSP scholarship. However, applicants working at ADB’s developing member countries are eligible to apply.
  10. Applicants who are already enrolled in graduate degree programs are not eligible. This includes those who have already obtained a Master’s Degree at institutes aside from UNU-IAS.
  11. Applicants who have never studied abroad.

II. Coverage

Full tuition, subsistence allowance including housing allowance, medical and accident insurance, books and instrumental allowance will be covered by the scholarship. A monthly subsistence allowance including housing allowance for one person for the academic year 2016 is approximately JPY 150,000 (subject to change for the academic year 2016). 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.

III. Application Documents

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.

  1. ADB-JSP Information Sheet
  2. Certificates of annual income of the applicant
  3. Certificate of family income (parents’ income if single or income of the spouse if married)

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.

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