Reflecting the fact that the education is a great concern among a wide range of people in Japan, the educational system and teaching materials have demonstrated remarkable development. Teachers responsible for school education, which is positioned in the center of the Japanese educational system, are strongly required to have superior qualifications and capabilities as experts, including a general education backed by their sense of mission and human love as educators, deep understanding of pedagogical philosophy and methodologies and of human growth and development, academic ability specialized in the subject areas that they teach, excellent teaching skills, and so on.
In response to such social needs of the times, which remain unchanged until today, Joetsu University of Education was founded on October 1st, 1978 as a national university that aims to promote the theoretical and practical studies regarding school education, incorporating the Graduate School of Education, which intends to provide mainly school teachers for primary and secondary education with opportunities in academic research and training, along with the College of Education, offering undergraduate courses to train future teachers of primary education.
The Graduate School of Education (Master's Program) conducts comprehensive and specialized studies of various sciences chiefly involved in the theory and practice of elementary and secondary education. It also offers school teachers the opportunity of pursuing advanced research and improving their theoretical and practical abilities. For that purpose, approximately two-thirds of the admission capacity of the Graduate School of Education is allotted to the teachers who have at least three years of teaching experience.
The College of Education offers undergraduate courses which train students to have excellent teaching abilities in all the subject areas of elementary education. The course work also cultivates a comprehensive understanding of the processes of growth and development in children. Considering the importance of primary education as the starting-point for people's lifelong learning, special emphasis is placed on building the characters of the students who intend to become elementary school teachers.
In 1996 the Joint Graduate School in Science of School Education was opened at Hyogo University of Teacher Education as the first Ph.D. Program in the field of teacher training in Japan. Its educational and research system is organized on a cooperative arrangement among four universities, Joetsu, Hyogo, Okayama, and Naruto. Supported by the experiences and achievements of each university's Master's Program, the Joint Graduate School (Ph.D.Program) conducts practical research on educational activities and the teaching of subject areas, and thereby aims to train capable persons with high abilities of research and instruction.
In addition, in 2008, The Professional Degree Program (Graduate School of Professional Teaching) was established in the Graduate School of Education by the development of the Teaching Profession Graduate School System. The purposes of this degree course are to promote knowledge about teaching professionalism, and to train educators who have abilities to deal quickly and effectively with various problems and phenomena in school education.