OIST in a Nutshell

What is OIST?

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology is an interdisciplinary graduate school offering a 5-year PhD program in Science. Over half of the faculty and students are recruited from outside Japan, and all education and research is conducted entirely in English.

People   |   Academics   |   Research   |   Industrial Collaboration   |   Community Relations

Ideals and Guiding Principles

Mission Statement

The OIST Graduate University shall conduct internationally outstanding education and research in science and technology, and thus contribute to the sustainable development of Okinawa, and promote and sustain the advancement of science and technology in Japan and throughout the world.

Central Concepts

  1. Best in the World: Recruit the best students in the world to work in an environment that encourages creativity, uniqueness, and diversity.
  2. International: Recruit over half of the faculty and student body from outside of Japan and use English as the official language.
  3. Flexible: Encourage innovation, creativity, and adaptability; accommodate new initiatives; ensure a thoroughly interdisciplinary academic environment; and treat every student as a unique individual.
  4. Global Networking: Host, attend, and participate in international meetings, conferences, workshops, and other events to enhance the university’s visibility and increase research and education opportunities.
  5. Collaboration with Industry: Create an environment where research outcomes are developed and applied by industry for the benefit of society, the sustained development of Okinawa, and the competitiveness of Japan.

What makes OIST different

  • English: The international language of science used in peer-review journals and international conferences is also the daily operational language
  • International: Half of students and faculty are recruited from outside Japan.
  • Interdisciplinary: Collaboration and exchange between specialities is encouraged by such things as the absence of administrative departments, campus architecture, and the curriculum of the graduate program.
  • Education: With a 2:1 student to faculty ratio, students do research side-by-side with top-class researchers as they work toward their degrees.
  • Funding: OIST is a Special Private School Corporation, funded mostly by the Japanese government but granted the administrative freedom to take innovative initiatives.
  • Location: Okinawa is a beautiful tropical island in the center of Asia’s rapid economic development, but as a part of Japan, it enjoys all the convenience and stability of a developed nation.
  • Commitment: OIST strives to provide an environment for work and study where each individual is valued and encouraged to realize his or her potential.

For more information about OIST ideals and guiding principles, please see Chapter 1 of the Policy Library “Who We Are”.


  Japanese International % of Women Total
OIST Employees (as of May 2017)
Faculty 21 36 19% 57
Research Units Staff 190 208 42% 398
Research Support Staff 76 22 44% 98
Administrative Staff 239 22 69% 261
  Japanese International % of Women Total
OIST Students (as of May 2017)
Students 23 107 38% 130
Year Japanese International % of Women Total
Number of Students Admitted per Academic Year
2012 5 29 29.4% 34
2013 5 15 25.0% 20
2014 6 21 44.4% 27
2015 2 22 29.2% 24
2016 6 29 48.6% 35

Student Nationalities: 134 Students / 35 Countries and Territories (as of September 2016)

Nationalities of Students
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The graduate school accepts 20 students per year, creating a very low student to instructor ratio. Students also receive support for living costs, health care, housing, childcare, and other needs that would otherwise distract them from the science. Balancing lectures and lab work, the doctoral program places students in well-funded labs where they work side-by-side with top researchers on state-of-the-art equipment. Frequent visits from internationally-known scientists further enrich the program and provide opportunities for collaboration and exchange. By the time they graduate, students have accumulated not only abstract knowledge and practical skills but also the kind of professional connections necessary to launch their careers as world-class researchers.

Academic Events

Total Number of Academic Events at OIST

OIST Workshops* for FY2016【40 Countries and Regions / 996 Participants and Lecturers】

*including OIST co-organized conferences

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Research (Apr 2016)

  • Research units: 52

Fields of Research

  • Neuroscience (NS)
  • Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)
  • Environmental and Ecological Science (EES)
  • Mathematical and Computational Science (MCS)
  • Physics and Chemistry (P&C)

Research Collaboration Across Traditional Disciplinary Boundaries

The following illustration uses lines to show the collaborations between units across fields of research.

Illustration of Research Unit Collaborations Across Research Areas

The illustration below represents the same information using the width of the arrows to indicate the relative number of collaborations across disciplinary boundaries.

Illustration of the Relative Number of Research Collaborations between Units by Research Area

Scientific Productivity (May 2014)

Historical progress of scientific productivity at OIST

OIST's Scientific Productivity

Research Collaboration (29 Countries / 156 Institutions)

Research Collaborations by Country
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Patent Applications

Growing Number of OIST Patent Applications

Industrial Collaboration (May 2014)

Ongoing Collaborations with Industrial Companies

Community Relations

Number of Visitors to OIST

Fiscal Year Number of Visitors
2015 35,495
2014 41,009
2013 39,984
2012 21,475
2011 10,565

Open Campus

Graph showing the increase over time in the number of Open Campus participants
OIST held Open Campus since FY2008. The number of participants increased from 629 up to 5000 in 6 yrs.

Learn More

For more details about OIST see the OIST Publications and explore the links under "About OIST."