Academic Plan AY2023

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1 Start Part 1 2 About Me 3 My Skills 4 Part 2 5 Course Selection 6 Lab Rotations 7 Other Information 8 Complete

Welcome to the OIST PhD!

An important first task as you enroll in the PhD program is to meet with your Mentor and plan your academic curriculum and future professional development. This is done through the following Academic Plan.


The PhD program at OIST offers continued and dedicated mentoring and development in academic and professional skills, preparing you for your life beyond graduation.  As you progress through the program, you will continue to reflect on and revise your training and development in academic, scientific, and professional skills. Your Mentor, and later your Thesis Supervisor, are an important part of this process.

The OIST PhD program concurrently runs a Professional and Career Development (PCD) program to help you develop professional skills and explore career options. Professional skills development is a proactive and continuing process, and is a strong indicator of success in many careers, including science. Many granting bodies (including NIH) now require evidence of such planning, and many other institutions also now require this of all their academic and research appointments. 

Mentoring at OIST 

Your Mentor is a faculty member initially appointed by the Graduate School considering shared research interests, background, and academic history. Your Mentor will serve as your guide in all aspects of your academic development over the duration of your PhD program. As such, having a good working relationship is important, and it is possible to have a new mentor assigned if unresolvable issues arise or there is simply a lack of rapport.  

Your Mentor is distinct from your Thesis Supervisor, so if you are accepted into Mentor’s unit for thesis research, you will need to seek a new Mentor and advise the Graduate School of the change.

Your Mentor will be a first point of contact for academic advice and support, including your choice of courses and lab rotations. Your Mentor should also be one of the people you turn to for advice on other necessary academic and professional development training. Of course, you are encouraged to develop other informal mentoring arrangements inside and outside OIST as you build your professional network.

From your third year of enrolment onward, you will undertake an annual research progress review with your Mentor and Thesis Supervisor, looking at your research progress through the year and at your plans towards completion. Concurrently with this process, you should reflect on your previous year's academic and professional development plan and adjust that as your needs change. 

Your Academic Plan 

The Academic Plan is an individualized plan tailored to your specific needs to prepare you for your research and for your future career. You work with your mentor and with Graduate School advisors to build your own academic plan before commencing studies at OIST, and then submit it to the Graduate School as part of the initial onboarding and enrollment process. Submitting your academic plan helps us to place you into appropriate and available laboratories for rotations in the first year, helps us plan for you to attend the classes and courses you ask for, and helps you and your mentor plan ahead for your future needs in professional and career development.  

Planning for your First Year in the OIST PhD 

First, complete part 1 on your own, considering your interests and what you would like to learn. You should then arrange a meeting, online or in person, with your assigned Academic Mentor where you will complete part 2. In this meeting, you need to complete several steps. First, discuss your needs and research interests with your mentor. Then, choose your elective courses from the OIST courses available, identify suitable and relevant lab rotations and finally, indicate any additional training needed for your research. During the first and second year, you’ll have the opportunity to develop skills and confidence across a range of professional and soft skills through the required Professional and Career Development program.

Part 1: Before meeting with your Mentor 

Before meeting your Mentor to develop your academic plan, please take a few minutes to think about your current aspirations, abilities, and skill-sets. What are you good at? What skills or knowledge do you need to develop? What are your research and career goals now, if any? Setting these down from the beginning will help your Mentor and the Graduate School work more effectively with you in your academic and professional development. Of course, these are merely starting points right now, and may change at any time in the future. 

You may stop and save this form at the end of each section, and come back to it in future (using the link you are provided: record this information!).  You should save at the end of Part 1, so that your Mentor may read your input before your meeting.