Master’s Program in Disability Sciences – Overview

Messages from Chair of Disability Sciences DP

The Disability Science Degree Program was launched in April 2020 as a degree program of the Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba. Disability science is an interdisciplinary field of study that encompasses all areas of disability. Currently, faculty members specializing in various fields such as medicine, physiology, psychology, special needs education, and disability welfare are collaborating to conduct research and education in this unique department among graduate schools in Japan. The history of disability science research at the University of Tsukuba can be traced back to 1903, when the Tokyo School for the Blind and Mute (now the University of Tsukuba’s Special Needs School for the Visually Impaired and Special Needs School for the Deaf) established a teacher training department as a beginning of research and teacher training in education for the blind and hearing impaired, and 1908, when the Tokyo Higher Normal School The establishment of special classes at the elementary school attached to the Tokyo Higher Normal School (currently the University of Tsukuba Elementary School) in 1908, which was the beginning of the exploration of education for the intellectually handicapped and the training of teachers. In 1951, the Department of Special Education in the Faculty of Education at Tokyo University of Education, Japan’s first specialized university department, was established, and graduate education began in 1953. From 1966 (Showa 41), the Department of Limb/Trunk Education was added, and in 1968 (Showa 43), a doctoral program in Special Education was established. Later, with the development of the University of Tsukuba as a comprehensive research university, disability science became an interdisciplinary academic field that included a variety of basic and applied research on all stages of the lives of people with disabilities, while expanding its scope to include early education and rehabilitation, transition support after graduation, and lifestyle support. The Disability Science Degree Program provides a research-guided, instruction-focused education with the following objectives To train researchers who can conduct advanced research on various issues related to disabilities and provide leading education in the field of disability science from a global perspective. To develop highly competent professionals who can be leaders at home and abroad. In the Master’s Program, we expect to enroll individuals who aspire to contribute to lifelong educational and welfare support, public administration, and international cooperation related to disabilities, and who are willing to work in this field as researchers and high-level professionals. We welcome all of you who have majored in fields other than disability science. In the latter half of the program, we expect you to have knowledge and research skills related to disability science, have a strong interest in cutting-edge research at home and abroad, and aspire to become researchers and professionals with high research skills in the fields of education, welfare, clinical care, administration, international cooperation, etc. related to disability in the future. I look forward to working with all of you to help the growing network of faculty, students, and alumni of the Disability Science Degree Program form a center for disability science research and practice, and to contribute to the development of this discipline and society.

1 Apr. 2024
Chair of Disability Sciences Degree Program


The Master’s Program in Disability Sciences has been integrated with the Major in Special Needs Education, Master’s Program in Education, which trains high-level experts on education for children with disabilities, and special needs education; creating a new major as of April 2013. The wide-ranging fundamental and positive educational research experience in the disability sciences, provided by the Master’s Program in Disability Sciences, has been integrated with the educational research results of the Major in Special Needs Education, to provide support for diverse disability sciences needs, from special needs education to clinical support, welfare support, etc. (See the image of the new organization.)

Curriculums and qualifications

The curriculum of the Master’s Program in Disability Sciences consists of the Special Needs Education Course and Supports in Disability Sciences Course, to assure consistency with the three study models (Special Needs Education, Social Welfare, and Disability Sciences) of the College of Disability Sciences, School of Human Sciences (Bachelor’s Degree course). Each course is designed to develop high-level professionals or researchers in special needs education or disability clinics/disability welfare. Upon acquiring the necessary credits, students can receive a First Class Certificate and Advanced Certificate for Teachers of Schools for Children with Special Needs (five fields), as well as qualification to take exams to become a clinical developmental psychologist and school psychologist. Students can flexibly study subjects of different courses, based on their individual needs and pre-university professional educational backgrounds. Various course arrangements are available to meet students’ educational aims.
For students wishing to continue studying in the Doctoral Program in Disability Sciences, Specialized Subjects for Doctoral Program are available in the Doctoral Program to ensure continuity with the studies in the Master’s Program. New subjects, including international education and overseas training for children with disabilities, support for students with disabilities, and Acupuncture and Physical Therapy, etc., are also available, to address the social functions of the disability sciences. The University of Tsukuba boasts as many as five affiliated special needs education schools, the largest such number in Japan. Taking advantage of such resources, the University of Tsukuba is able to offer practical training in subjects integrating the theory and practice of special needs education. Students taking the Special Needs Education Course are guaranteed to acquire high-level expertise in the disability sciences, through the definition of specialized subject teacher systems for specific disability education fields, leading to certificates for teachers of schools for children with special needs.

Requirements for diplomas, and thesis support

The Disability Sciences Major includes the following requirements:
(1) Students must earn at least 5 credits from Common Subjects in Disability Sciences, the core subject; and at least 25 credits from the specialized subjects (Special Needs Education, Clinical Supports in Disability Sciences, Welfare Supports in Disability Sciences, General Subjects in Disability Sciences); for a total of at least 30 credits, including specialized core subjects and recommended common postgraduate subjects.
(2) Students must successfully pass the thesis examination and the final exam.
Thesis support, consisting of one main instructor and two sub-instructors, is available for each student.

Academic degrees
Master’s Degree (Disability Sciences), Master’s Degree (Special Needs Education)