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Research Postgraduate Programmes

Frequently Asked Questions


About the Programme

There are 6 departments under the Faculty of Science:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Statistics and Actuarial Science
To learn about more specific research topics under each department, please visit their relevant websites.

Information on how to ‘Find Your Supervisor’ can be found here.

If you have any doubts or questions, you may also contact the following Postgraduate Admissions Advisors to help guide you:

  • School of Biological Sciences: Professor David M BAKER (Ecology & Biodiversity)
  • School of Biological Sciences: Professor Aixin YAN (Molecular & Microbiology)
  • Department of Chemistry: Professor David L PHILLIPS
  • Department of Earth Sciences: Professor Zhonghui LIU
  • Department of Mathematics: Professor Wenan ZANG
  • Department of Physics: Professor Xiaodong CUI
  • Department of Statistics & Actuarial Science: Professor Guodong LI

HKU values and supports international research collaborations. The various Joint PhD programmes can be found here.

For detailed information on the normative study and probationary periods of MPhil/PhD programmes, please visit our ‘Programme Information’ page.



MPhil and PhD are research programmes which focus on research work. These programmes require applicants to have sound research background. The award of the degree depends mainly on the assessment of the thesis. Students are normally required to take around 5 to 10 courses which will be assessed on a pass/fail basis only. The purpose of the courses is to help students prepare for their theses.


On the other hand, taught master's programmes focus more on coursework although students may be required to complete a dissertation in some of the taught master's programmes. 


Applications for MPhil and PhD programmes are submitted here while applications for Taught Master’s Programmes can be made here.
Applicants seeking admission to a research degree programme should satisfy the following minimum entrance requirement:


  • a Bachelor's degree with honours (or equivalent qualification) from a recognised university.



  • a Bachelor's degree with honours and a Master's degree (or equivalent qualification) from a recognised university; or
  • a Bachelor's degree with first class honours (or equivalent qualification) from a recognised university.


Depending on individual department requirements, qualifying examinations to test the applicants' abilities to follow the prescribed courses and/or interviews may be conducted. Applicants with qualifications other than an honours degree are considered on their individual merits.


Applicants that are from institutions outside of HK where the medium of instruction and examination are not entirely in English need to provide one of the following to prove their English language proficiency:


  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) taken within a two-year period
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – Academic module taken within a two-year period
  • Overseas General Certificate of Education (GCE)
  • International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)
  • Cambridge Test of Proficiency in English Language


Please check the ‘Official score report of one of the following English language proficiency tests’ section here for details on accepted scores and more.
Applicants should submit the required documents to the Graduate School on or before the application deadline:


  • Certificates & complete transcripts of undergraduate and postgraduate (if applicable) studies
  • Statement of Research Interest or Research Proposal
  • Two Academic referee’s’ reports
  • Official score report of one of the accepted English language proficiency tests
  • Other relevant documents (e.g. evidence of academic awards received, summary of relevant experiences, etc.)


Please refer here for details. All supporting documents should be uploaded to the Online Application System after successful payment of application fee. The reviewer(s) will consider your application based on the documents submitted and it is your responsibility to provide sufficient information before the application deadline. Documents uploaded to the system should not be delivered to the Graduate School by post in duplicate.

GRE/GMAT scores are not required for MPhil/PhD programmes offered under the Faculty of Science.

Yes, supporting documents including the electronic copies of transcripts and certificates should be uploaded to the Graduate School’s Online Application System after successful payment of the application fee. Candidates may be required to provide certified true copies of academic certificates and transcripts upon request.  


For current undergraduate or postgraduate students: it is to your advantage to upload an interim transcript showing the results of courses you have so far completed.


For qualifications obtained from HKU (except HKU SPACE): Certified certificates and official transcripts are not required but if you are a graduate, you are requested to upload a photocopy of the transcript with your application; if you are a current student, you are requested to provide a printout of your examination results from the Student Connect or a photocopy of your examination result slips.
Yes, you may apply for MPhil/PhD programmes in more than one department. Please submit an application with a full set of supporting documents and pay the application fees for each application.


Please note that each applicant shall only submit one application to each department, regardless of the study mode (Full-time/Part-time) and degree (MPhil/PhD). You may consult the postgraduate admission advisor of your proposed department of study or your proposed supervisor if you are in doubts about which programme you should apply for. Their contact for each department can be found in here

Key application deadlines for the MPhil/PhD programmes can be found here.

No. Discussing with potential supervisors is a necessary step prior to application. After receiving positive feedback from potential supervisors, you may proceed to submit your MPhil/PhD application to the Graduate School’s Online Application System. The Graduate School will announce the result of your application in due course.

Applicants are reminded to double-check to ensure that all information and documents submitted during the application process are accurate and up-to-date. In case of amendments needing to be made after application submission, please email

Depending on your Application Round, the Result Announcement period will vary. The Graduate School will inform all applicants of the result of their applications in writing in about three to four months after the closing date of application. Applicants may also check the result at here.


For applicants who have indicated interest in the Joint Educational Placements for PhD, shortlisted candidates will be contacted individually by the Faculty of Science for further processing of their Joint PhD application.
If you have missed the main round application deadline, you can still apply for admission in the 1st clearing round. And similarly, you can apply for admission in the 2nd clearing round if you have missed the 1st clearing round deadline.


You may wish to note that we have a quota for admitting MPhil and PhD students each year and applications are considered in batches.


The main round application is the first round in which departments consider applications for the coming academic year. Normally, if there are places left after admitting the main round applicants, the departments will consider applications received in the 1st clearing round (and subsequently the 2nd clearing round) to fill up those places. Hence, you are encouraged to apply as early as possible as the number of available places in the main round will be more than that in the 1st clearing round, which in turn will be more than that in the 2nd clearing round.


Fees and Funding

You may find the latest composition fee here. For the full schedule of the latest academic year, please click here.

HKU offers the following scholarships to support outstanding research postgraduate students:
  1. HKU Presidential PhD Scholar Programme (HKU-PS)
  2. The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship (HKPF)
  3. Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS)
The HKU-PS and HKPF scholarships cannot be concurrently held with the PGS packages.

Please click here for more fellowships and scholarships available. You may also find more financial support and awards here supported by HKU and other institutions. 


For International Students/Visa

International students requiring a visa entry for study in Hong Kong should refer to the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s guidelines and instructions here. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the timely application of their student visa prior to their arrival in Hong Kong. In case of any assistance needed from HKU during the visa application process, please contact

Full-time non-local MPhil/PhD students will be guaranteed a hall placement in their first year of study.


Contact Details

For queries about MPhil/PhD programmes offered at HKU Science, please email while questions regarding application procedures can be directed towards the Graduate School at