About OIST

About OIST

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What is OIST?

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) is an interdisciplinary graduate school offering a 5-year PhD program in Science and Engineering . It was founded by the Japanese government to contribute to science and technology worldwide, attract leading researchers from Japan and around the world to conduct high-quality research, advance the development of a world-class research hub, and nucleate a knowledge cluster that will catalyze technology transfer and industrial innovation in Okinawa.

Ideals and Principles

“OIST was founded to promote internationally distinguished research and education, on science and technology based in Okinawa … and thus contribute to the promotion and self-sustaining development of Okinawa and to the development of science and technology worldwide.”
(Article 1 of the Cabinet Office Ordinance No. 59 of 2011, Enforcement Regulation of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology School Corporation Act)

Vision, Values, and Mission

Our Vision: The advancement of knowledge for the benefit of humanity

Our Values: We abide by a core set of values that underpin everything that we do: Excellence, Respectfulness, Responsibility, Transparency, Sustainability, Diversity, Courage, and Freedom.

Our Mission: We are a pioneering graduate university. We conduct research that bridges disciplines to explore new frontiers of scientific knowledge. We educate a new generation of scientific leaders. We are a catalyst for an innovation hub in Okinawa.

Guiding Principles

Globally Recognized: We want to be globally recognized for world-leading, cross-disciplinary research that benefits humanity.

Destination of Choice: We want to be the destination of choice to work, learn, and collaborate, linking science to education and leading to innovation and entrepreneurship, supported by an efficient administration.

Partner of Choice: We want to be the partner of choice for innovation and a catalyst in Okinawa, promoting economic growth and sustainable benefits, addressing problems important to Japanese and global society.

Read the Strategic Plan to learn about OIST ideals and guiding principles.

What makes OIST unique?

  • Governance structure unique to Japan and modeled on international best practices
  • Cross-disciplinary approach to education and research
  • International and diverse faculty, administration, and student community, with English as the common language
  • High-trust funding for education and research
  • Faculty independence and freedom of research
  • Commitment to economic development of Okinawa


The university’s unique governance structure is designed to allow OIST to innovate in governance as well as in science and technology.

Go to Leadership and Governance for details about the university’s leaders and the structure of the organization.


There are no departments, and courses are not restricted to a single discipline. To describe research topics within OIST, faculty-defined research specialties are used.

Explore OIST research through research specialties

International and diverse English-language community

Over half of the faculty and students are recruited from outside Japan, and education and research are conducted entirely in English. All employees and students are required to be able to use English, but many take voluntary Japanese classes offered for free by the university. OIST is actively working to increase the diversity of the faculty, students, and staff.

As of January 2023, 63% of faculty, 43% of research and administrative staff, and 81% of PhD students are from outside Japan.

International staff: 42% students: 81% Faculty: 62%

The 264 PhD students at OIST in January of 2023 represent 52 countries and territories, with 51 students from Japan.

Students at OIST: 269PhD students from 53 countries and territories, 45 japanese graduate students

52% of staff, 38% of students, and 18% of faculty are female.

Women @ OIST staff: 52% Students: 40% Faculty: 18%

Get more Facts and Figures about OIST, including details on student and employee numbers and nationalities.


OIST is a Special Private School Corporation, funded mostly by the Japanese government. High-trust funding enables faculty to focus on research and explore ambitious, long-term research topics. Funding is not tied to a project, allowing freedom and flexibility to pursue high-risk but high-reward ideas. Students receive financial support that covers tuition and living expenses, allowing them to focus on completing their degrees and contributing to the research output of the university.


Each faculty member, including assistant and associate professors, lead independent research units with their own budgets and are responsible for their own research agenda.

Economic Development of Okinawa

OIST is committed to accelerating the economic growth of Okinawa and Japan through industry partnerships and entrepreneurship, with the goal of developing a diversified economy in Okinawa with global entrepreneurial talent to make Okinawa an innovation hub.

Learn about OIST Innovation and the university’s economic impact on Okinawa.

The university also contributes directly to Okinawa through outreach programs and activities that address problems important to Japanese and global society, such as:

  • Health and Aging
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Climate Change
  • Education

Learn more about all the ways in which OIST contributes to Okinawa.


Okinawa includes around 150 islands in the East China Sea, between Taiwan and the Japanese mainland. The southern-most prefecture in Japan, it has a subtropical climate, coral reefs, and rain forests.

OIST is located on 500 acres of subtropical hillside in rural Onna Village, famous throughout Japan for diving and snorkeling. The campus buildings evoke a futuristic Okinawan castle, with soaring skywalks, shimmering lakes, ramparts overlooking beautiful forest, and curved rock walls.

World map showing the location of Okinawa and OIST