NAIST Division of Biological Science


FAQs for examinees

About the examination

When is the examination?

The entrance examination for the former doctoral course is held three times a year, in July, October, and March.

Do all three annual examinations have different difficulty levels?

No, there is no difference in difficulty level. All three examinations are scored the same.

What will I be tested on

The examination consists of a basic knowledge test and an interview test. Examinees are also asked to submit their TOEIC or equivalent test of English proficiency score. However, there is no threshold score for English proficiency.

Can I see the questions that came up in past examinations?

No, we do not release past questions.

I do not have a background in biology, but I want to work in this area in the future. Do I still have a chance to enroll?

Yes. You do not need to have majored in a particular subject to be eligible to enroll. We welcome students from various academic backgrounds. Likewise, the entrance examination is not designed to disadvantage examinees with certain majors.

Do I have a chance to enroll from a doctoral program (doctoral course)?

Yes. We actively welcome those who have completed or who are set to complete master’s course at another university.

I am an adult who has started a professional career, but I want to continue my education at a postgraduate school. Will I be disadvantaged in the entrance examination?

Not at all. We actively welcome adults who want to continue their education.

I did not study biology and my graduation research project involved mechanical engineering. Should I describe this project in my research statement?

Yes, please describe your graduate research project. That said, the interviewers are faculty of the Division of Biological Science, so make sure you describe your project in a way that is clear to someone unfamiliar with the field.

My background is in the humanities and I did not do a graduation research project. When writing my research statement, how should I describe the knowledge I have gained?

You should describe your self-study efforts in bioscience. Only describe things that you are well informed about, as you will be questioned about the content of your research statement in the interview.

What should I be mindful of in the interview?

Be aware that the interview will be based on the two sections of your research statement. The most important thing is to thoroughly understand the graduate research project you wrote about in the research statement. You should understand in particular the significance of the research. Make sure you come to the interview equipped with this knowledge.

Should I attend the examination in a business outfit?

You will not be judged on what you wear.

In my research statement, what should I describe about the fields of the research or issues I want to engage in at NAIST?

Give some background or a reason explaining why you are interested in the research and the issues and make sure to convey your passion for biological science research. What you write will have no bearing on which lab you are assigned to following enrolment, so you should write freely.


I would like to enroll but my background lies outside the field. I am worried that I will struggle to keep up with the specialized curriculum.

Do not worry. The Division of Biological Science has a history of accepting students from various academic backgrounds. The curriculum is designed to accommodate students with a background outside the field, too. It includes, for instance, a basics module that goes over the fundamentals, offering a refresher for some students and a primer for others. There are also seminars in which you can discuss the content in a small group of 10–15 of your peers.

Globalization is making English proficiency increasingly important. Is English part of the curriculum?

In the master’s program, English lessons are provided to suit your level, and you are welcome to use CALL, an online English language learning program that supports continuous self-study. In the doctoral program, there are plenty of opportunities to deliver presentations in English, and there are international instructors who provide one-on-one English guidance. Regular TOEIC tests are used to track students’ English proficiency. In the doctoral program, every student is required to study overseas for several weeks at the department’s expense. Depending on your TOEIC score, you will be assigned either to a lab stay or a course at a language-learning institution.

There is this ivory tower stereotype—the notion that academics are ensconced in their own field of study cut off from and uninterested in the rest of the world. I love science, but I do not want to end up in an ivory tower.

Science and technology have become an integral part of everyday life, so science is by no means cut off from the rest of the world. We believe that the Division of Biological Science should have a role in people’s lives and communities, and our curriculum includes modules that focus on the significance of and methods for sharing research findings with the community. We aim to foster a diverse body of individuals who can contribute in wide-ranging ways to the synergistic relationship between science and technology on the one hand and life, society, and culture on the other.

Support for studies and daily life

Do you provide student dormitories?

Yes. We have on-campus student dormitories that can accommodate a sizeable proportion of the student quota. Doctoral program students and international students may reside in the on-campus accommodation if they desire. Master’s program students can reserve a place in the accommodation if they excel in the entrance examination. The remaining places in the accommodation will be decided by lottery.

Will I be eligible for a scholarship from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)?

All students are eligible for JASSO’s Category 2 scholarships. Students who score high on the entrance examination can apply for a Category 1 scholarship prior to enrollment. For those who are not eligible for the advance reservation of Category 1 scholarship, there is another round of selection for Category 1 scholarship after enrollment. Enrollment fee/tuition exemptions are also available.

Are there any student subsidies other than the JASSO scholarships?

There is the Teaching Assistant Program and the Research Assistant Program.

Career prospects

What kind of jobs do alumni get

Those who earned a master’s degree from the program have accepted jobs at a wide range of companies. Those who earned a PhD have gained post-doc or teaching positions at NAIST and elsewhere, while others work in a company.