I. Conditions to Apply:

To be eligible for the OIST Graduate Program, you must have completed a BSc, MSc or equivalent degree or expect to do so prior to the admission date.

Applicants need to select OIST “Faculty of Interest” during their online application for the purpose of screening and coordinating interviews for shortlisted applicants. This does not mean the student is committed to join the laboratory of the selected faculty if they are admitted. Students are admitted into the program rather than into the laboratory of a certain professor. The broad nature of the training we provide in the first two years allows students to discover many different approaches to the problem they are interested in and may even introduce them to completely new questions. Students become based in their intended thesis lab at the end of the first year, and their thesis topic is finalized after a qualifying examination at the end of the second year.

Admission to OIST is competitive against a standard that is similar to that of graduate programs of the leading universities the world over. The selection process for admissions takes into account all aspects of the OIST Graduate School application, including: academic record, applicant's statement, letters of recommendation, additional evidence of academic ability such as GRE general test scores, additional material such as copies of publications and abstracts of oral presentations, and any other evidence of achievement provided. For short-listed applicants, the selection process additionally takes into account face-to-face interviews with four faculty members. All of these aspects are considered together in the final decision for each candidate.

Students are accepted to the OIST program and will go through lab matching process, therefore it is important to list the Faculty of Interest, but it is not necessary to contact faculty to get their approval or support prior to applying. In general, please consider the relevance of your message prior to contacting the faculty.


II. PhD Online Application:

You do not need to provide us with TOEFL/IELTS score if the medium of your education is English and you upload documents to prove so.

If you are unable to meet the deadline to take the test, please follow the instructions below.

  • Register for the nearest TOEFL / IELTS exam
  • Create a text document that lists (a) the date you are going to take the test and (b) the date you expect to receive your results.
  • Make a PDF of the note
  • Upload the PDF to your application
  • When you receive your scores, make sure to send a scanned copy of them by e-mail to admissions@oist.jp.

For the online application, you can upload other government issued identification documents instead. If you receive a positive result and are invited to Okinawa for the Admissions Workshop, we will need the copy of your valid passport at that time for visa application and travel arrangement.

Deadline for submitting recommendation letter(s) is the same with the application deadline. However, please keep in mind that you can only submit your application after at least two recommendation letter are received in our system, so please make sure to communicate with your referee(s) and give yourself enough time. When the letter is submitted, you will receive a notification from the system, and you can proceed with submitting your application at that time.

Once you have invited your referees, you can check the status of your invitation by logging in to your account. You will be able to see the status of your invitation (Sent, In Progress, Submitted). You can also resend your invitation.
Depending on the settings of your referees’ email accounts, there are cases the invitation letter sent from the system will be classified as Spam or Bulk mails. If your referees cannot find the invitation from their Inbox, please ask them to check Spam or Bulk folder as well.

You can no longer make any changes to the application once it is submitted, and you cannot withdraw it yourself. If you really must make some changes to your application, you may request us to reverse the status of your application to “In Progress” by emailing us at admissions@oist.jp. However, it is your responsibility to submit your application again before the deadline. Please take enough time to revise your application and make final submission. There are no advantages by submitting the application earlier.

OIST uses an internet-based application system so we do not require submission of any document in hard copies. You only need to scan the documents and upload them on our online application system.If you are a successful candidate, some hard copies will be needed for visa application and enrollment process. You will be further instructed at that stage.

Yes, leaving this field blank will not affect your application in any way, as we understand many universities do not share class rank information with students.


III. Result Announcement:

For the 1st screening, it usually takes about 4-5 weeks after each application deadline, depending on the volume of applications we receive. For the final result after Admissions Workshop (interviews), it takes about 3 weeks. Both results are announced via the application system.

OIST policy is not to provide explanations for admissions decisions to individual candidates. The assessment of your submitted materials was made with reference to a set of criteria that are specific to the OIST Graduate School. A negative decision at OIST therefore should not deter you from applying to other institutions - each university admits students based on their specific requirements and goals.

You may apply again in the following year given that your academic records have made some progress to reconsider. Please submit an updated transcript with other supplemental documents when you reapply.


IV. Enrolling at OIST:

In discussion with the Mentor, MSc graduate entrants may receive up to a 10-credit dispensation at enrollment to elective coursework requirements, dependent on their educational background and proposed area of research. In terms of completing thesis research and being subsequently examined and graduated, there is no requirement to be enrolled for the full five years.

As all students enrolled in OIST PhD program are fully-funded with a generous Research Assistantship, you are not allowed to work part-time. The Research Assistantship ensures a comfortable living in Okinawa so that students can focus on research.

The regular enrollment period is September 1st of the upcoming academic Year. However, we can also offer enrollment at the beginning of each semester. You may choose early enrollment in May (if you join the February Admissions Workshop), or late enrollment in January. You may also choose to defer to the next academic year but may not defer more than one academic year. A request to change the enrollment timing can only be accepted once.

Admissions Workshops Upcoming Academic Year Following Academic Year
May 1st September 1st January 1st May 1st September 1st January 1st
Early Enrollment Regular Enrollment Late Enrollment Defer Defer Defer
February Admissions Workshop Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
June Admissions Workshop No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Please refer to this link for details.

You will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy.


V. Financial Support:

The selection criteria of OIST and the MEXT Scholarship Program do not coincide with each other and therefore OIST does not take students from the MEXT Scholarship Program. If you wish to apply to OIST, please apply directly through our official online application system, not through the MEXT Scholarship Program application. However, if you would like to apply for both the MEXT Scholarship Program and OIST graduate program simultaneously, you may certainly do so.

Yes, the OIST PhD program is fully funded for all OIST students regardless the nationality. The funding not only covers full tuition but ensures a comfortable living standard as well. Therefore, you do not need to be concerned about acquiring additional scholarships or financial aid at the time of application.For more information, please check Student Support