Advertising Education in Japan

Kazue Shimamura
Professor, Faculty of Commerce
Waseda University

Janusz Buda
Professor, Faculty of Commerce
Waseda University


From 2001 to 2002 one of the authors (Shimamura) spent a sabbatical year at the Department of Advertising of the University of Texas at Austin, visiting similar departments at other universities and interviewing faculty members. As a teacher of advertising studies at a Japanese university, Shimamura was particularly interested in the existence of departments of advertising providing education for students wishing to establish careers in the advertising industry.

Hitherto, very few Japanese universities, especially at the faculty level, have offered education or designed curricula to facilitate career opportunities in specific professions. Medical schools for students aiming to become doctors, or universities of education for those wishing to become teachers, are exceptions to this general tendency.

In recent years, manga (graphic novels) and anime (animated movies) have become world-wide symbols of modern Japanese culture. With the growth in the number of fans of these genres has come a growth in the number of people considering careers in these fields. The establishment of departments of manga and animation in some universities (mostly those specializing in art) has attracted media attention, but this trend has not extended to most Japanese universities. The creation of new departments in fields popular among young people, and the establishment of specialized departments linked to specific professions, is more evident in vocational colleges than universities.

Conversely, it would appear that a significant number of universities in not only the United States but also Asian nations such as China, Korea and Taiwan include departments of advertising. Why is it that Japanese universities have not created similar departments, and what kind of advertising education are those universities providing?

Some of the largest and most successful advertising agencies in the world are based in Japan. It is therefore not surprising that many Japanese students aspire to careers in the advertising industry. The following study examines the education such students are offered in Japanese universities and the characteristics of advertising education in Japan from a historical, contemporary and future perspective.

1. Advertising-related Courses in Universities

1.1 The Nikkei Advertising Research Institute 2009 Survey

In 2009, the Nikkei Advertising Research Institute conducted its first ‘Survey of Advertising-related Courses in Universities’ in three years. This survey had been conducted annually from 1989 to 2006. No official explanation was given for the two-year hiatus, but it may be surmised that the recession in the Japanese advertising and mass-communication industries had an adverse effect on the budget of the Research Institute and the Nihon Keizai (Nikkei) Shimbun with which it is closely associated.

In the years prior to this temporary suspension, the survey attempted to identify the extent to which advertising-related subjects were taught in Japanese universities by focusing on three areas:

  1. Courses with advertising as their main subject.
  2. Seminars or practicums with advertising as their main subject.
  3. Courses that included advertising among other topics.

The much simpler survey of 2009 abandoned these three categories, listing only the titles and instructors of advertising-related courses, the names of the undergraduate and postgraduate faculties of the universities offering them, and brief summaries of course content.

This survey was far from comprehensive and did not encompass all universities in Japan. Consequently the number of courses listed cannot be taken as a precise indicator of the status of advertising education in Japan.[1] However, if supplementary data such as course instructor membership of academic associations and anecdotal network information is taken into account, a picture does emerge of which courses are taught in which universities. This supplementary data would indicate that, for all its shortcomings, the survey’s results are not fundamentally flawed. Compared with twenty years ago, it is evident that, whilst the number of courses incorporating advertising-related material has grown significantly, no new departments of advertising have been founded at the university level. In contrast, a few new departments of marketing, public relations, and publicity have been created and some of these no doubt include advertising-related courses. However, the prospects for the foundation of new departments of advertising are not promising.

According to the 2009 survey, 246 universities offered a total of 1,778 advertising-related courses taught by 870 instructors. In the titles of these course, the most frequent keywords were ‘Marketing’ (30% of 1,778) and ‘Advertising’ (15.2% of the same number). These figures suggest that, in many cases, advertising is perceived as a subsidiary element of marketing studies. Among the course titles, very few differentiated specific aspects of advertising such as Creative Advertising Strategy, Advertising Research, Advertising Effectiveness, and Advertising Regulations. Where taught, advertising was either included under the generic term ‘Marketing Studies’ or, if offered as a separate course, was limited to introductory-level courses such as ‘Advertising Studies’.

A ranking of university faculties according to the number of advertising-related courses they offer produced, in descending order, the following list: management, commerce, economics, fine art, social studies, literature, and literature and human studies. The first three faculties have consistently offered the greatest number of advertising-related courses, but recently there has been an increase in the number of faculties of fine art, social studies, and literature offering such courses.

It should be noted that Japanese universities do not impose any regulations or guidelines on the content of advertising, marketing or, indeed, any other courses. Taking Advertising as an example, the selection of course content, the order in which it is presented, the choice of textbooks and reference works, the use of supplementary materials such as advertisements and commercials — all these are left to the discretion of the course instructor. The focus of course content will often depend on whether the instructor has a professional or academic background, or even on his or her personal interests. Whether a course carries two or four credits will also have a direct influence on the depth and scope of course content. Be that as it may, it can be said that the level of advertising courses in Japanese universities that do not offer specialized advertising education is equivalent to the ‘Introduction to Advertising’ courses offered in the departments of advertising of US universities.

‘Introduction to Advertising’ would normally provide only the most basic general coverage of the subject, but some faculties of fine art offer both theoretical and practical classes in graphic design, computer graphics and Web design. Likewise, some faculties of literature examine advertising from psychological and cultural perspectives. Occasionally, seminar courses will require students to carry out advertising planning.

1.2 Changes in Advertising-related Courses over the Past 20 Years

The Nikkei Advertising Research Institute Survey has its origins in the survey carried out by Akihiro Kamei et al. (1989) as a research project of the Japan Academy of Advertising (JAA). Kamei’s independent survey found that Japanese universities were offering 93 advertising courses, 28 advertising seminars, and 24 advertising practicums: a total of 145 courses. Almost each year after Kamei’s pioneering research the Nikkei Advertising Research Institute conducted an almost identical survey, chronicling the development of advertising education in Japan. That no such systematic surveys had been carried out before 1989 reflects the contemporary lack of interest in advertising education.

The following graph, based on data from approximately 20 years of Nikkei Advertising Research Institute surveys, shows the number of lectures, seminars and practicums taking advertising as their main topic. In 2006 the number of such courses was 3.8 times larger than that in Kamei’s survey.

Figure 1

Figure 1 (1989–2009)

The survey data gives detailed information on course titles, faculties, departments, instructors, and course content in a format that makes it difficult to analyze statistically. Leaving aside such analysis and focusing only on a summary of the results of the survey, two salient points emerge.

Firstly, faculties offering courses which concentrate on advertising as their main theme can be divided into four groups:

  1. Management, commerce, economics, etc.
  2. Literature, communication, social studies, etc.
  3. Art and fine art.
  4. Liberal arts, international liberal studies, information technology, human sciences, etc.

Advertising-related courses have a tendency to incorporate inter-disciplinary elements and the faculties offering them are many and varied. Consequently, the title ‘Advertising’ or ‘Advertising Studies’ is often applied to courses with profoundly different content. Currently, faculties of management, commerce and economics offer the greatest number of advertising courses, but the number of faculties of art and fine art, as well as faculties of literature, communication, and social studies that offer such courses is growing steadily.

Secondly, a large percentage of advertising-related course instructors are part-time faculty. Looking only at those courses with advertising as their main theme, the number of part-time instructors is between 40–50%. The survey does not provide details of the background of course instructors, but it can be assumed the part-time instructors include tenured faculty teaching part-time outside their own faculty or university, and advertising industry professionals. Whatever the case, it is evident that whilst the need for advertising-related courses has been recognized and the number of such courses is increasing, they are often entrusted to part-time instructors rather than tenured faculty.

Figure 2

Figure 2 (Ratio of full-time to part-time instructors)

2. The History of Advertising Education in Japan

2.1 The Origins of Advertising Education in Waseda University

The Nikkei Advertising Research Institute survey has been conducted for twenty years but the origins of advertising education in Japan go back to the 1910s — to a period spanning the end of the Meiji Period and the beginning of the Taishō Period. It is widely recognized that Waseda University was one of the first universities to offer advertising education, but the education of that time differed significantly from that of the present. In other words, the University did not conduct advertising education in the form of courses with names such as ‘Advertising’ or ‘Advertising Studies’. Rather, advertising education can trace its origins to the activities of an informal study group formed by students with an interest in advertising.

In October 1913, to mark the 30th Anniversary of the founding of Waseda University, several departments such as those of Politics, Literature, and Commerce (the precursor of today’s School of Commerce) staged a commemorative exhibition. The Department of Commerce’s contribution was an Advertising Exhibition. Classrooms were adorned with realistic displays of consumer goods reminiscent of department stores, advertisements from newspapers and magazines around the world, and real advertising posters, drawing the interest and attention of many visitors and receiving high critical acclaim as a concrete example of Waseda University’s academic ideal of the practical application of learning. In January 1914 the students and faculty who had taken part in this exhibit founded the Waseda Advertising Society. It is reputed to have been the first advertising study group formed by students themselves. The first chairman of the Society was Hozumi Tanaka, the Dean of the Department of Commerce.

The Society’s primary aim was to conduct an academic study of advertising. Between one and four hours of lectures were given each week by instructors including: Jūjirō Itō of the Department of Commerce; Yōichi Ueno, a young researcher majoring in psychology at Tōkyō Imperial University; Jūjirō Izeki, editor-in-chief of the industry journal Jitsugyōkai and later professor at Meiji University. In addition to lectures such as Principles of Advertising, Overview of Advertising, History of Advertising, and Psychology of Advertising, published materials were read and discussed, and presentations of research findings given. The reading and discussion sessions were led by Jūjirō Itō and among the texts studied were Walter D. Scott’s Psychology of Advertising. It must be noted, however, that Itō was not an advertising specialist but taught formal courses in Transportation Policies and Commercial English.

The second aim of the Society was the promotion of the results of its research through the holding of public lectures and exhibitions. The third aim was the training of human resources who would play a significant role in the advertising industry of the future. To this end, the Society held meetings with members of the advertising industry, organized visits to advertising companies, and sponsored practicums at department stores. Such activities could be said to be the forerunners of today’s internship programs.

Although the Society was a student initiative, its activities extended to lectures by professors and lecturers, and to seminars, practicums and internships. As if in response to this initiative, in 1920 the Department of Commerce introduced an official though extra-curricular course in advertising. As an extra-curricular course, it did not offer credit toward graduation. However, permission was granted to hold it in regular classrooms and the University paid the instructors an honorarium. It can thus be said that the roots of advertising education in Japan lie in the activities of the Waseda Advertising Society and the extra-curricular course offered by the Waseda University Department of Commerce.

2.2 Initiatives in Other Universities

From approximately 1910, the number of students interested in advertising grew steadily, and in many universities the first steps towards the creation of advertising study groups were taken. Soon after the establishment of the Waseda Advertising Society in 1914, similar groups were founded at Rikkyō University in 1915, Kōbe Higher Commercial School (now Kōbe University) in 1919, Meiji University in 1920 and Keiō University in 1925. Although the foundation of an advertising research society at Keiō University came a little late, in the following year the society broke new ground with the publication of Mita Kōkoku Kenkyū (Mita Advertising Studies). Not to be outdone, in 1927 the Waseda Advertising Society brought out its own journal entitled Kōkokugaku Kenkyū (Advertising Studies). In 1925 the University Advertising Studies Federation was established and student interest in the subject continued to grow (Yamamoto & Tsuganezawa, 1985).

In his Kōkoku to Senden (Advertisement and Propaganda) published in 1924, Shizuka Nakagawa notes that an advertising seminar was introduced at the Kōbe Higher Commercial School in 1921 and a formal advertising studies course was created at Meiji University in 1922. Nakagawa was one of the most influential figures in the advertising studies and education field of the time. He graduated from the Tōkyō Senmon College (the precursor of Waseda University) in 1883. After teaching at commercial high schools in Nagasaki and Kumamoto he became a professor at Kōbe Higher Commercial School in 1921, where he himself taught the above-mentioned advertising seminar.

The Meiji University advertising course Nakagawa records as starting in 1922 is not mentioned in the Centennial History of the Meiji University School of Commerce (School of Commerce 100th Anniversary Commemorative History Committee, 2007). However, the curriculum for 1929 lists a course called Advertising and Selling taught by Jūjirō Izeki, who had formerly offered a similar extracurricular course at the Waseda University School of Commerce. In 1947 a new Advertising course taught by Takizō Matsumoto makes its debut. Although this course continued to be a part of the Meiji University School of Commerce curriculum, subsequent course instructors are not named and it can be assumed that it was taught by part-time faculty.

2.3 The First Official Courses at Waseda University and Postgraduate Education

Although the Waseda University School of Commerce pioneered the introduction of advertising education, it was not until 1953 that Advertising was instituted as an official course (Kobayashi, 1975). It took the form of a seminar taught by Tasaburō Kobayashi who, after studying sociology at the School of Literature and management at the Graduate School of Commerce, devoted himself to advertising research. Course content consisted of “A study of advertising campaigns and the effectiveness of advertising, supplemented by research into related topics such as consumers, products, advertising media, advertising copy and design, advertising-related legislation, advertising ethics, and the organization and activities of advertising departments and advertising agencies” (Kobayashi, 1975, p. 67). No such course had ever been offered before and student familiarity with the subject was minimal. One student of the time admitted, “I thought that Advertising had something to do with commercial art.” (Kobayashi, 1975, p. 68). It is symbolically appropriate that this course began in the same year as Japanese commercial television broadcasting.

In 1955 a new course called Advertising Management was introduced. Sponsored by a donation from the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations, the course aimed to promote advertising research and education. The course instructor was Fumio Uekuri, head of the advertising department of the Reader’s Digest Japan Office. The course covered the marketing of advertisements, advertising techniques, media characteristics, budget setting, problems besetting advertising agencies, advertising surveys, measurement of effectiveness, overseas advertising, advertising and publicity, public relations, and so on. In essence, the curriculum of this course differed little from the Advertising course of today. In an age when commercial radio and television broadcasting had just begun and was still relatively unfamiliar, the study of advertising must have provided the students of the time with intense intellectual stimulation.

In 1955 Kobayashi changed the name of his seminar from Advertising to Advertising Management, and in 1959 added another seminar called Advertising Media, which continued until 1962. Along with the explosive growth of television came calls for a thorough examination of advertising media. Despite this tumultuous background, the number of students able to take Kobayashi’s two seminar courses was severely limited, as was the number of School of Commerce students able to study advertising theory.

At Waseda University, many official lectures are given in classrooms seating from 300 to 400 students. In 1962 Advertising was finally recognized as an official commercial science course, allowing hundreds of students to enrol. In the same year, Kobayashi began teaching an Advertising Major Program in the Graduate School of Commerce. The introduction of this course laid the foundation for the education of students wishing to pursue careers as university researchers and teachers of advertising.

In 1973, Akihiro Kamei, one of Kobayashi’s students in graduate school, took charge of Advertising Research, the second of the School of Commerce’s two advertising seminars. (The course name was changed to Basic Principles of Advertising in 1975.) With this addition, the number of faculty members teaching advertising at the School of Commerce grew to two. In 1980 Kamei began teaching Advertising, allowing a large number of School of Commerce students to study the subject.

Although the Waseda University School of Commerce led the way in introducing student-led research into advertising, another 40 years were to pass before the subject was formally recognized in the form of an Advertising seminar. What caused this delay? One possible reason is that whilst student interest in advertising studies had grown steadily from the 1910s onwards, the subject was taught as an extra-curricular course by faculty members with an interest in advertising but a specialization in other areas of research, and by instructors from other institutions. It is not clear how long advertising continued to be taught as an extra-curricular course, but what is certain is that no attempt was made to hire tenured faculty specializing in advertising research, and a valuable opportunity to establish advertising education on a firm and permanent basis was lost.

Traditionally, the two most important subjects taught at the School of Commerce have been bookkeeping and accounting. Advertising and marketing were considered subsidiary or marginal fields of academic research. In comparison with accounting and other fields boasting a large number of faculty members, marginal academic fields with, at best, one specialist teacher must have appeared of little interest or significance to the students of the time. However, the remarkable changes in Japanese media in the 1950s, and the revolution in distribution technology epitomised by the introduction of American-style supermarkets, turned the attention of students to the effects that these changes were exerting on society. In retrospect, Tasaburō Kobayashi’s interest in advertising and his unflagging research into the subject bear ample witness to his perspicacity and foresight.

Kobayashi’s graduate school Advertising Major Program was probably the first of its kind in any Japanese university. Among the first group of students taking the course were Akihiro Kamei (later professor at the School of Commerce) and Yasuhiko Kobayashi (later professor at Aoyama Gakuin University). Although the primary aim of the course was to educate scholars who would pursue academic careers in advertising research and education, a majority of students chose to find employment in advertising and other industries after obtaining their master’s degree. Few went on to become researchers or university teachers. It was not until 2005 that Kamei himself began supervising research at the Graduate School of Commerce. This long hiatus was not conducive to the training of a significant number of specialists in the field. It had been hoped that the alumni of the Graduate School of Commerce who had been taught by Kobayashi would go on to teach advertising and related subjects at other universities, but such was not the case.

As stated previously, 40–50% of the faculty teaching the Advertising course were part-timers. There is little doubt that the paucity of postgraduate students going on to teaching careers, coupled with the perception that advertising courses could be adequately entrusted to part-time instructors, raised serious doubts among undergraduate students regarding the advisability and future prospects of studying advertising at the graduate school level.

2.4 Other Institutions Offering Advertising Education

Having covered the history of advertising education in Japanese universities, this section concludes with an overview of the advertising education being conducted currently in other institutions. A significant number of university students wishing to obtain professional qualifications or pass external examinations enrol in courses offered by specialist vocational schools or colleges. In Japan this is commonly referred to as ‘double-schooling’. Many of the students who choose to double-school are hoping to gain certification as accountants or lawyers.

It would be wrong, however, to assume that students aiming at a career in the advertising industry follow the same path and enrol in vocational colleges of advertising. Such cases are extremely rare. Most so-called vocational colleges of advertising draw their students from the ranks of high-school graduates and concentrate on such technical aspects as design and photography rather than advertising as such. Although few in number, there are students who, after graduating from university departments of management or commerce, decide to aim for careers as art directors or web designers and continue their studies in vocational colleges. However, the education offered in such vocational colleges is mainly of a technical nature and differs fundamentally from that offered in universities. Cooperation and reciprocal recognition of credits between universities and vocational colleges is almost non-existent.

In addition to publishing advertising-related periodicals, a Japanese firm called Sendenkaigi Co. Ltd. offers training for copywriters, art directors and other specialists. Lectures are given by advertising-industry professionals and the courses attract students with clear career goals such as copywriting, commercial planning, or art direction. Of the students enrolling in such courses, very few are studying advertising at university; rather, the majority are students wishing to work in the advertising industry but belonging to university faculties that do not offer advertising-related courses. It is often said that among former students of the Sendenkaigi courses are some of the most famous copywriters in Japan, but it does not follow that taking these courses will necessarily guarantee future employment in the industry.

An organization based in Kyōto and known as the International Academy offers a series of courses taught by famous copywriters and art directors under the name of Kyōto-kōkoku-juku (The Kyōto Advertising School). Summaries of these courses given in a series of books published in 2007 suggest that the focus is less on practical training in advertisement production and more on listening to production professionals discussing various aspects of their work.

The education offered in advertising-related vocational colleges differs fundamentally from that offered in universities, concentrating as it does on the needs of students hoping to find jobs in advertising companies, or providing supplementary education for those already working in advertising or related fields.

3. Organizations Supporting Advertising Education in Japan

3.1 Student Organizations

A simplified overview of the history of advertising education shows that student interest and enthusiasm in advertising generated ad hoc study societies that, in turn, stimulated the introduction of formal courses in educational institutions. Today, a number of organizations exist to support the activities of both students and researchers. The following is a brief account of the organizations that influence and support advertising education in Japan.

The earliest such organization exists to this day, and under the same name. The Waseda Advertising Society is approaching its hundredth anniversary. From an informal group devoted to studying advertising with the assistance and advice of faculty members, it has grown into a much larger multifaceted organization, creating advertising campaign proposals, advertisements and commercials, and cooperating with the advertising circles of other universities in holding regular Advertising Festival events.

Currently, advertising study circles exist in the following Tōkyō Metropolitan Area universities: Aoyama Gakuin University, Atomi Women’s University, Daitō Bunka University, Gakushūin University, Hitotsubashi University, Hōsei University, Jissen Women’s University, Keiō University, Kokugakuin University, Meiji University, Meiji Gakuin University, Meisei University, Nihon University, Rikkyō University, Seikei University, Sophia University, Tama Art University, Tōkyō Institute of Technology, Tōkyō Keizai University, Tōyō University, the University of Tōkyō, and Waseda University.

3.2 Research Organizations

The Japan Academy of Advertising (JAA), an organization for advertising researchers, was founded in December, 1969. Its first chairperson was Shikamatsu Mukai. Mukai was a professor at Keiō University, lecturing in trade management, commercial planning, the stock exchange, management and economics, monetary banking and other subjects. Advertising was not his speciality and at the time of his election he was already over eighty years old. The JAA did not begin to function as an active academic organization until the election, in 1976, of Waseda University professor Tasaburō Kobayashi as its second chairperson. He was succeeded in 1998 by Akihiro Kamei, and Yasuhiko Kobayashi in 2004. In 2010 Shizue Kishi of Tōkyō Keizai University was elected chairperson. Kishi obtained her Ph.D. at Illinois University and her international perspective promises to lead the JAA into new and broader fields of research.

The membership of the JAA consists of university faculty and postgraduate students, advertising industry professionals, and corporate members. As of September 2010, the number of members was 636, of whom 60% were connected with universities and 40% with the advertising industry. The university membership includes not only specialists in advertising but also teachers working in fields such as marketing, psychology, art and fine art, and linguistics. Many of the advertising industry professionals who belong to the Academy also teach advertising courses as part-time lecturers at universities and other institutions. There are many instances of advertising industry professionals with both practical and academic experience taking up full-time positions as university faculty.

Currently, the JAA holds an Annual Conference at which members present the results of their research, and publishes a biannual peer-reviewed journal called Kōkoku Kagaku (Journal of Advertising Science). Within Japan are four local chapters of the JAA, each holding several study meetings every year. In 2008, the Academy added a Creative Forum study group to further research into the hitherto neglected field of creativity in advertising.

3.3 Representative Support Organizations

3.3.1 The Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation

The Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation was created in 1965 to commemorate the achievements of Hideo Yoshida, the fourth president of Dentsū Inc.. Among the many activities of the Foundation, of particular relevance to students studying advertising and advertising researchers are the following:

ADMT (Ad Museum Tōkyō)

The ADMT is a unique museum created to further research into advertising and marketing, and promote a better understanding of advertising in society. It was opened in December 2002 to mark the hundredth anniversary of Hideo Yoshida’s birth. In addition to a permanent advertising-related exhibit, each year the museum holds twelve smaller exhibits with special themes. Its convenient location and free admission draw not only students but also visitors from the provinces.

Ad Library

A specialist library associated with the ADMT but founded much earlier in 1966. As of 2008 its holdings included 12,100 Japanese books, 2,900 foreign books, and approximately 170 different periodicals. Computer terminals with search functions allow the viewing of an extensive digital archive of advertising material.

The library’s comprehensive collection of specialized materials and the excellent condition of its books and periodicals attract both students studying advertising and industry professionals. Admission to the library is free.

Research Aid

The Foundation also provides financial research aid to university researchers and Ph.D. students. Grants are allocated on the basis of a fair and open evaluation, and awarded to not only Japanese researchers but also researchers throughout the world. The results of sponsored research are available for inspection in the library and regular compendia of summaries are published.

3.3.2 Nikkei Advertising Research Institute (

Despite the inclusion of ‘Nikkei’ in its name, this institute is an independent organization founded in 1967. Affiliate members include advertisers, advertising agencies, production companies, research companies, newspapers, periodicals, broadcasting companies and many others. It conducts independent surveys such as ‘Advertising and Promotion Expenditure of Major Companies’ and the previously mentioned ‘Survey of Advertising-related Courses in Universities’, publishes the ‘Bulletin of Nikkei Advertising Research Institute’ and the ‘Advertising White Paper’, and offers courses and seminars in advertising-related subjects. It also sponsors a number of study groups made up of faculty members and graduate students from many universities, one notable feature of these groups being the comparative youth of the group leaders.

4. Issues Facing Advertising Education in Japan

4.1 Low Interest in Advertising Education

As can be seen from the above overview of advertising education in Japanese universities, the inauguration of such education in the late 1910s and early 1920s was by no means tardy. On the other hand, in contrast to the creation of departments of advertising at Michigan State University and the University of Illinois in the late 1950s, no such department has ever been created in a Japanese university.

Why should this be? There is no simple answer to this question but several reasons may be posited.

  1. Advertising is taught in a number of different faculties, each bringing to the subject its own distinctive perspective. In other words, the content of advertising education will differ markedly in accordance with the characteristics of the faculties offering relevant courses.

    The curricula of American departments of advertising cover essential subjects such as Introduction to Advertising, Advertising Research, Advertising and Society, Media Planning, Creative Advertising Strategy, and Advertising Campaigns. In addition to these core subjects, universities strive to differentiate their advertising education with varied courses such as History of Advertising, Account Planning, Global Advertising, and Interactive Advertising. The Advertising courses offered in Japanese universities differ little from the Introduction to Advertising of American universities, whilst those that do differ tend to pick up one of the many other courses offered in American universities and teach them under the generic label of ‘Advertising’.

  2. The curricula offered by American departments of advertising represent, from the Japanese point of view, a conglomeration of courses that would normally be taught separately in different faculties. Advertising is, of necessity, an interdisciplinary field of study that transcends faculty boundaries. In the United States, departments of advertising are often found within faculties of journalism or faculties of communication. Were a department of advertising ever to be founded in a Japanese university, the problem would inevitably arise of choosing the most appropriate faculty for such a department: management, commerce, art, and so on. Without first overcoming the strict lines of demarcation between faculties, the formation of a department of advertising in Japan remains intractably difficult. If the number of interdisciplinary or liberal arts faculties continues to grow and generates stiffer competition, there is still a possibility that one or more of them may create a department of advertising to differentiate itself from the others.

  3. However, perhaps the most salient reason for the absence of departments of advertising in Japan is that there is no common agreement as to what constitutes advertising education. Hitherto, there has been almost no serious discussion or debate among researchers or educators regarding the content of advertising education. Of the forty annual conferences held by the JAA, only one was devoted to the theme of advertising education. Any improvement in the quality of advertising education in Japan is conditional upon researchers and educators taking a more active interest in defining the nature of advertising education itself.

4.2 The Necessity for Training New Researchers

There is an urgent need to increase the number of researchers specializing in advertising, marketing, or communication. Even if the desire to provide content-rich advertising education is there, the number of qualified instructors is not. This shortage of researchers will inevitably be reflected in the lack of postgraduate programs offering an opportunity to conduct advertising studies. Currently, the number of Asian students enrolling in Japanese graduate schools is growing significantly. Whilst it is gratifying that so many talented foreign students should choose to study in Japan, most of them will end their studies when they have obtained their master’s degree, going on to find education-unrelated jobs in Japan or their home countries. Serious consideration needs to be given to ways of increasing the number of students, both foreign and Japanese, who wish to progress to Ph.D. courses and eventually become researchers and educators.

Although much of this article has focused on advertising education at the undergraduate level, advertising education at the postgraduate level also merits close examination, and it is hoped to conduct such a study in the near future.


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[1] According to Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology statistics for 2009, there were 773 four-year universities in Japan (86 national, 58 public, and 595 private) and 406 two-year colleges (2 national, 26 public, and 378 private).