Frequently Asked Questions
I. Conditions to Apply:
1. Who is eligible 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.
2. Should I select a supervisor when I apply?
Students are admitted into the program rather than into the laboratory of any particular professor. The broad nature of the training we provide in the first two years allows them 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.
3. What aspects are taken into consideration regarding OIST's admission?
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 five faculty members. All of these aspects are considered together in the final decision for each candidate.
II. OIST Online Application System:
1. I received an education in English, should I still submit a TOEFL / IELTS score?
You do not need to provide us with TOEFL/IELS score if the medium of your education is English and you upload documents to prove so.
2. I have not taken the TOEFL/IELTS exam yet, what should I do?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Arrange for the official scores to be sent to OIST from ETS / IELTS by postal mail.
3. I do not have a valid passport at the moment yet, what should I do?
For the online application, you can upload other government issued identification documents instead. If you receive a positive result and is 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.
4. When is the deadline for referees to submit recommendation letters?
It is the same date as the application deadline. Please communicate with your referees to make sure the letters are submitted by then.
5. Can I submit my application before my referees submit their recommendation letters?
Yes, you can submit your application whenever you are ready. The system will continue to be able to receive recommendation letter submission until the deadline.
6. How can I check if my referees have submitted the recommendation letters for me?
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 (Invited, Opened, Submitted). You can also resend your invitation.
Depends on the settings of your referees’ email accounts, there are cases the invitation letter sent from Embark 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.
7. I have submitted my application but I would like to make some changes. What should I do?
If you have submitted the application before the deadline, you can contact email@example.com to request to reverse your application status from “Submitted” to “In Progress”. You will be able to change your application, however please make sure to resubmit your application by the deadline to have your application screened.
8. Do I have to submit any hard copies of my documents?
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.
III. Result Announcement:
1. When can I hear the result of 1st screening? Also, when can I have a final offer after Admissions Workshop?
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 2 weeks. Both results are announced via email.
2. I failed the admission for this year. Can I have some feedback on my application?
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.
3. Can I apply again?
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:
1. How long does it normally take to complete the PhD program if I have an MSc degree?
An experienced MSc student may take less than 5 years to complete the program. However, the PhD is not awarded on the basis of duration of study. The important thing is to complete and defend a thesis that embodies original, independent research and makes a contribution to scientific knowledge and understanding. It may take 3-4 years for students with an MSc degree to complete the program depending on their level of preparation.
2. Can I work part-time to earn extra income for my living?
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.