5.1. The Graduate School

5.1.The Graduate School

The mission of the Graduate School of the OIST Graduate University is to provide first-class postgraduate education to the highest international standard. The Graduate School implements the following three core policies:

i.  Admission Policy:

The Graduate University aims to train researchers who will play important roles in the international scientific community at leading scientific institutions in the public and private sectors. Accordingly, the Admissions Policy will make it a principle to recruit candidates with the potential and motivation to become leaders in scientific research on the international stage.

Recruitment will focus on attracting outstanding students from within Japan and internationally. Here “outstanding students” means students who are highly motivated by the excitement and potential of the cutting-edge research that is possible at OIST, who have the curiosity and academic ability needed to excel in their chosen areas of study, and who have the capacity for independent research and original thinking. Our students will also require proficiency in oral and written communication skills in English for advanced study in science, and the ability to interact effectively with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Students are selected for the OIST Graduate University PhD Program solely on merit, and not to a quota.

Offers are made to all qualified candidates without consid eration or influence of gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, medical condition, race, ethnicity, ancestry, culture, national origin, religion, or marital status. Applications from women and min orities are strongly encouraged.

Students will be eligible to apply if they are expected to complete a BSc or equivalent degree prior to admission, or have previously completed a BSc, MSc or equivalent degree representing the completion of an undergraduate course in science and engineering, or exceptionally in other fields. The student should meet requirements for admission to a graduate school under the School Education Act. Those who hold a Masters degree may be exempted from some coursework with the approval of the Dean. Successful candidates will only be enrolled into a doctoral program.


ii.  Curriculum Policy:

In keeping with the concept of “best in the world” we will recruit outstanding students and conduct top class academic instruction. The academic program will aim to develop the full potential of each student toward scientific excellence and independence. In accordance with this aim, every student will be treated as a unique individual and have their program of studies tailored to their scientific aspirations, prior education, and current interests. The basic principles of the curriculum design are to facilitate independent scientific thinking, and to learn by doing research. There will be a single program without barriers between disciplines.

The students will be accepted directly into an integrated doctoral program leading to a postdoctoral career path in leading research institutes and universities. The doctoral program will have a standard enrollment period of five years, and will follow a course- based study system. A three-term per year system will be used. The first two years will comprise a combination of laboratory rotations and courses, designed to prepare the students for their doctoral thesis work in a flexible way. In the second year the students will choose a laboratory in which to undertake thesis research and will submit a Thesis Proposal. An examination for progression to thesis research is held at the end of the second year, based on the written Thesis Proposal and an Oral Examination that includes a defense of the proposal and examination of fundamental knowledge in the field of the research. In order to ensure the highest international standards an external examiner who is expert in the field of the thesis study is a member of the examining panel. After determination of readiness for thesis work the students will enter into a three-year period of thesis research, which will conclude with examination of the thesis.

Students entering the program directly from undergraduate studies will normally take about five years to complete their course of study. Those with a relevant Honors degree or a Master’s degree in another area can finish in four years. Students entering with a Master’s degree in the area they intend to specialize can finish in three years.


iii.  Diploma Policy:

The Ph.D. degree is conferred by the University in recognition of completion by the candidate of original research that makes a significant contribution to scientific knowledge. The degree is not awarded for completion of certain courses or a fixed period of enrolment, or for directed work as a technician. The work for the degree consists of original research and systematic studies that advance knowledge, conducted by the candidate with an appropriate degree of independence. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate the ability to communicate the results of their research and scholarship effectively in both oral and written English. The candidate must present their work in a thesis and defend it in an oral examination. A published paper or manuscript ready for submission must be included as an appendix to the thesis. A candidate may not submit for examination work that has been included in a thesis or dissertation that has been previously submitted towards a degree qualification.

In order to ensure the highest international standards a Final Examination is held after submission of the thesis. The Final Examination includes examination of the written thesis by two external examiners of international standing in the field of the thesis research, who also conduct an on-site oral examination.

The Graduate School is a division of the OIST Graduate University. The Dean is the head of the Graduate School. The Graduate School’s major role is to provide academic services, student support and administrative support. In addition, we collaborate with others in OIST to participate in the Okinawa University Consortium and advance its missions. These functions are organized into the corresponding sections as follows:

5.1.1. Office of the Dean of the Graduate School

The Office of the Dean of the Graduate School coordinates all division tasks and reporting, manages personnel, and facilitates communication in and out of the division.  It also liaises with other key stakeholders of education such as faculty and students at OIST. In particular, it provides early detection of challenges that students are experiencing and coordinates interventive measures. For coordination with faculty, it coordinates the Faculty-GS Liaison Committee and assists the communication between the Dean of the Graduate School and Faculty Council and Assembly. Finally, it develops relationships with other universities and government entities.

5.1.2. Academic Affairs Section

The Academic Affairs Section supports the academic program of the graduate school, and performs the following tasks:

  1. Provide course advising;
  2. Organize Academic Mentors;
  3. Manage course enrollment;
  4. Organize thesis supervision;
  5. Monitor the academic progress of students;
  6. Coordinate conduct of course assessment and manage results;
  7. Coordinate the examination process;
  8. Determine the results of PhD candidatures;
  9. Administer graduation requirements and the award of degrees;
  10. Participate in the formulation of academic policies;
  11. Facilitate an Early Program for full-time PhD student (also known as Gap program);
  12. Manage desk allocation;
  13. Provide secretariat for academic committees including:

         a.  Curriculum and Examination Committee;
         b.  Thesis committees


5.1.3. Student Affairs Section

The Student Affairs Section is concerned with the everyday requirements for living, health and welfare of students at OIST, and is charged with the following tasks:

  1. Implement policies on issues broadly affecting students, including housing, travel expenses support, financial support and other welfare;
  2. Provide supporting services for students;
  3. Provide orientation to life in Okinawa and Japan for new students;
  4. Disseminate information and advice to students concerning scholarships and financial support;
  5. Administer student financial support and scholarships;
  6. Administer student welfare services;
  7. Administer all travel expenses support related to the Graduate School


5.1.4.Admissions and Registrar Section

The Admissions and Registrar Section is charged with administering the process of admissions,  and handling academic records and data. This section performs the following tasks:

  1. Administer the process of admission;
  2. Administer registration and enrolment of students;
  3. Provide secretariat for the Admissions Committee;
  4. Prepare and maintain database systems concerning:
  1. Applicants for admission;
  2. Individual records of faculty members;
  3. Teaching assignments;
  4. PhD thesis supervision;
  5. Student academic records;
  6. Course schedules;
  7. Evaluations of teaching and supervision;
  8. Alumni

    v.  Administer and monitor student transcripts and certificates;
    vi. Respond to Graduate School reporting and evaluation


5.1.5.Curriculum and Programs Section

The Curriculum and Programs Section is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the quality and diversity of the taught component of the educational programs delivered by the Graduate School. This section performs the following tasks:

  1. Administer the delivery of the academic programs of the Graduate School;
  2. Develop and administer curriculum design and content;
  3. Administer independent study and special topics;
  4. Approve and monitor off-campus, online, and distance education;
  5. Approve external credit transfer;
  6. Design curriculum for new programs;
  7. Provide resources on good practice in teaching and PhD supervision;
  8. Design and implement co-curricular activities;
  9. Develop collaborative programs with other universities;
  10. Develop and implement online teaching;
  11. Manage teaching resources including computers and classrooms;
  12. Provide professional development courses;
  13. Catalogue courses;
  14. Schedule courses and classrooms

5.1.6. External Engagement Section

The External Engagement Section is charged with recruiting graduate students to OIST, organizing outreach science activities to develop a pathway for future talent in science and alumni-related activities, and handling records and data for potential PhD candidates as well as alumni. This section performs the following tasks:

  1. Undertake student recruitment activities;
  2. Maintain the OIST Admissions websites and social media related to student recruitment activities;
  3. Plan and facilitate outreach activities for secondary school students in and out of Okinawa;
  4. Maintain data concerning:
    1. Intending students;
    2. Visiting STEM-focused secondary school students;
    3. The Graduate School-run workshop and event participants;
    4. Alumni
  5. Administer alumni association and activities

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