Waseda University as a workplace for economists
[Disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent the views of my present and past affiliations in any way.]
By providing information about work environment at School of Political Science and Economics (PSE), Waseda University, I hope you will be more interested in working here.
General information about Waseda
The following figure shows the numbers of publications in Tilburg top 35 economics journals on five-year moving averages during 1990-2019 for Japan's top five national universities that are strong in economics (Tokyo, Hitotsubashi, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe) and top two private universities (Keio and Waseda). Keio and Waseda were bottom two until 2000s, but after 2010 they were rapidly catching up with the top five, and in 2019 Waseda takes the third place only after Tokyo and Osaka. Clearly, Waseda is on the rise.
- Waseda University, located in northwest central Tokyo, is one of the top two private universities in Japan, together with Keio University. In contrast with University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, Japan's top two research-oriented national universities, Waseda and Keio have put more emphasis on producing leaders in all parts of the society.
- School of Political Science and Economics (PSE), abbreviated as "SEIKEI" in Japanese, is the flagship school of Waseda since its foundation. In spite of its domestic fame, the school had been weak in international academic arena until the 1990s. Since the 2000s, however, it has been improving its academic performance by recruiting internationally competitive researchers, and encouraging graduate students to publish in internatinal journals.
- In 2014, Waseda has been selected by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Japan's representative research funding institution, as one of thirteen top global universities aiming for world's top 100. With the government support, those universities (and some non-selected equally competitive universities) will recruit more and more English-speaking researchers.
- Waseda PSE is leading internationalization in teaching economics and political science. Starting from 2010, the school is offering English-based undergraduate and graduate programs. It is admitting students from all over the world, mainly from Asian countries.
- To strengthen its programs, the school is actively hiring English-speaking economists every year. It has started posting job openings at JOE, although it does not attend the ASSA annual meetings for job interviews at this point.
 American Economic Review, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Econometrica, Economic Journal, Economics Letters, European Economic Review, Games and Economic Behavior, International Economic Review, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Journal of Economic Growth, Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of the European Economic Association, Quarterly Journal of Economics, RAND Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Dynamics, Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economics and Statistics, and World Bank Economic Review.
Work environment at Waseda PSE
Overall, if you hate publication pressure but are self-disciplined to do good research (I mean, publish in top journals), and if you love Tokyo, then Waseda is your place.
- Job security: too good. Once you get tenured, you won't get fired or suffer a pay cut even if you publish nothing forever. You will be completely free from "publish or perish" pressure until the retirement age of 70.
- Tenure requirements: I haven't heard explicit quantitative criteria for that, but you can guess them from publications of its recently hired or promoted Associate Professors or above.
- Salary: not bad. Your annual base salary depends only on your age . My total before-tax salary exceeded 100k USD (assuming that 1 USD = 100 JPY) before I turned 40. The pay is about 10-20% higher than national universities.
- Research grants: for in-house grants, you'll get 2k USD unconditionally, 1k for travel (plus 1k for overseas travel), 2k for journal submission related fees, and several competitive grants. Also, as long as you'll make a decent proposal, it won't be difficult to get external grants such as JSPS's Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research.
- Colleagues: most young and mid-career economists and some senior ones are doing very well, getting their papers published in top general and field journals. They try to be productive in a casual and friendly atmosphere. A group of research-active economists and political scientists has set up Center for Positive Political Economy with government funding (its support period ended in March 2019).
- Seminars: the school has several seminar series, some of which are done in English. You can see Waseda Institute of Political Economy website for English-speaking seminars.
- Teaching load: not so heavy. I typically have two lectures (90 minutes x 15 classes per course) and four student seminars (with little or no preps) in each semester. Tenure-track researchers will have less teaching load.
- Student quality: pretty good. Most students are polite. Many of them are well-motivated. And some of them are quite impressive. Sometimes undergraduate students outperform graduate students in graduate courses.
- Facilities: great. In fall-winter 2014, the school has moved to a new building 3. When you go up the faculty office floors at night, you can see beautiful landscapes of central Tokyo.
- Sabbaticals: you will have the first sabbatical (extendable to two years only once) after five years since employment, and the next ones come every ten years. Full salary up to a total of three years, plus some expenses for each sabbatical.
 University executives are starting to discuss introduction of merit-based annual salary system.
© 2020 Takumi Naito
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