Featuring its unique ambition-inspiring kokorozashi, or personal mission, education and hands-on business education close to real-life experience, Globis University’s Master of Business Administration program has rapidly grown into the largest and one of the highest-ranked MBA programs in Japan. Now the institution is set to take the English version of the program to a wider audience by bringing it online.

“The course is for people living in emerging countries who want to attend our MBA program in Tokyo, but can’t afford to do so,” said Tomoya Nakamura, dean of MBA programs. “It’s also targeted at people who want to study for their MBA in English, but live outside of Tokyo, or have to look after their children or parents and find it difficult to attend.”

The online English MBA will start in January. It will start as an single-unit program with the “Essentials of Marketing and Strategy” class, followed by “Critical Thinking” and “Organizational Behavior and Leadership” to start in April. Thereafter, further classes will be added with an eye toward introducing a full online MBA program in 2017.

In their annual promotional tours to other Asian countries, Nakamura, along with Globis University president Yoshito Hori, has discovered there is significant interest in their programs, but that many potential students cited the cost of living in Tokyo as a major obstacle.

“We think the English online program will prove tremendously attractive to such people,” Nakamura said, citing those in countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.

A key feature of Globis’ programs is their emphasis on what the school calls kokorozashi education in which students are encouraged to develop a sense of mission and ambition to bring positive changes to society. It is the founder’s belief that such a sense is an essential element in a leader.

Students are required, for example, to write an essay on their kokorozashi in a compulsory entrepreneurial leadership class taught by Hori and Nakamura, developing it until the final session where they are required to make a presentation.

“For example, a Thai student may say, ‘I want to become a bridge between Thailand and Japan and I especially want to help grow the auto parts industry in my country with Japanese technology.’ We want students to express their missions like that and this type of education is a major aspect of our programs,” he said.

“We started an English MBA nights and weekend program in 2009, and since then, many non-Japanese students have shown interest in the kokorozashi aspect of our education,” added Nakamura, a Harvard MBA graduate and business management professional.

Globis University also has courses to help students make their missions reality. Many classes are geared toward equipping them with the skills to start a business, notable among them being the annual venture plan competition.

“In this competition, graduate students as well as our alumni are invited to submit business plans. And we invest up to ¥5 million for viable plans,” Nakamura said. “So we kind of also have what you may call an infrastructure, or ecosystem, as part of our programs for students to bring business ideas to reality.”

The school’s tie-ups with major Japanese corporations such as Nissan Motor Co. and IBM Japan Ltd. also provide opportunities to participate in internship programs at such companies, helping students secure jobs.

While online programs provide the opportunity for students with difficulty to regularly attend a full-time program, they are conducted through computers over the Internet, separating students and lecturers. But Nakamura sees no major disadvantages in Globis’ online MBA, which it already conducts in Japanese.

The secret is its adoption of the so-called small private online course system, and he claims Globis’ online class environment is nearly identical to an actual classroom.

“Let’s say I’m teaching a class of 25 students online. On the screen, all students are visible to me, just like in an actual classroom. That’s because everybody’s face is on screen. If Jane wants to speak, she would raise her hand, and I would instantly recognize it and point at her … and her face would be zoomed in on while she speaks through the microphone.”

“There is a possibility that classes may even work better online than in real classrooms,” he added.

Yoshito Hori, a regular participant of the famous World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, started Globis University in 1992 with only a marketing class in a small rented office in Tokyo. As of 2013, it had 7,000 students (including those in non-degree programs) at five campuses. In 2014, the Japanese MBA program had 629 students, representing Japan’s largest accredited MBA program.

During the upcoming WEF Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2015 in Dalian, China, from Sept. 9, Globis, along with other Japanese companies, will host Japan Night, a social opportunity for participants to enjoy dinner and socializing.

“The World Economic Forum is a place where issues that cannot be solved by individual countries are discussed by the world’s leading minds and we are grateful to be involved in hosting Japan Night at such an auspicious forum,” Nakamura said.

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