PhD Program FAQ
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 iBT/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 email@example.com.
You can upload other government issued identification documents instead. However, if you receive an offer after the Admissions Selection, OIST will need the copy of your valid passport immediately to prepare your visa application and travel arrangement to relocate to Okinawa.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Selection (interviews), it takes about 3 weeks. Both results are announced via the application system.
OIST's policy is to not 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. PhD Life with a Family:
OIST has the Child Development Center (CDC) for children from 2-months old to 6-years old, and the School Aged Program (SAP) for 5- to 14-year old children. The CDC is open daily Monday through Friday from 8AM to 6PM and the SAP is open daily Monday through Friday from 1:30PM to 6:30PM. The fees vary based on your income level. There are currently over 100 OIST children attending CDC and SAP. Classes are all offered in English and Japanese and well-trained licensed teachers take good care of the children so students can focus on their research.
For school-aged children, there are options to go to local Japanese schools as well as private international schools. For more details, please refer Schooling Options.
Yes, OIST promotes diversity and supports balance in work and family life. We recognize the need to accommodate the demands on students associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and the care of children. OIST encourages women to undertake postgraduate education and supports women who decide to have children while at graduate school. Childbirth leave is a part of the policy to support the students.
OIST has two types of childbirth leave for PhD students:
PhD students who expect to give birth within 6 weeks (14 weeks for multiple pregnancies) are granted prenatal leave. After giving birth, they are granted 8-week paid postpartum leave.
PhD students whose partner has recently given birth are granted 8-week childbirth paid leave on or after the day of giving birth.
For more details, please refer “Childbirth Accommodation Policy for Students”
OIST constantly updates the positions for technicians, research staff, and administration staff so please check OIST Careers and apply directly for any position of your partner’s interest.
To work outside of OIST, most of employers require Japanese language skills. The Resource Center may have information for any job opening for foreign language speakers, so please consult with them for further information.
V. Enrolling at OIST:
Students with a Bachelor’s degree are required to attain at least 30 credits before submission of their thesis for examination. Students with a STEM-related Master’s degree are required to attain at least 20 credits before submission of their thesis for examination. In terms of completing thesis research and being subsequently examined and graduated, there is no requirement to be enrolled for the full five years.
On approval of the Graduate School, incoming students may request credit transfer under the following conditions:
- credit transfer may only occur from graduate level courses (Masters or Doctorate)
- courses for which credit transfer is sought must be STEM-related courses
- courses for which credit transfer is sought must not have been credited to another completed and conferred degree iv) the student must be able to provide supporting information as required by the Graduate School for the purpose of course equivalence analysis.
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.
Your result for the PhD program will be announced in February or June, depending on application date and you may choose early enrollment in May, regular enrollment in September, or late enrollment in January (basically, at the start of any semester during the academic year). You may also choose to defer to any semester in the next academic year. A request to change the enrollment timing can only be accepted once.
Please refer to this link for details.
You will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy.
VI. Financial Support:
The selection criteria of OIST and the MEXT Scholarship Program do not coincide with each other therefore OIST does not take students from the MEXT Scholarship Program directly. This applies to any other scholarship and grant. However, if you are selected for both, OIST may be able to increase the Research Assistantship in accordance with the scholarship’s/grant’s rules. The applicants are responsible for the application timing so please check the details for application process for both OIST and MEXT Scholarship. For more details, please consult with Graduate School after you receive your offer.
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.