Postgraduate Programs 2018/19
Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy Programs in Economics
Award Title

Doctor of Philosophy in Economics

Master of Philosophy in Economics

Program Short Name



Mode of Study

Both full- and part-time

Normative Program Duration

Full-time: 2 years
Part-time: 4 years

Full-time: 3 years (with a relevant research master’s degree), 4 years (with a bachelor’s degree only)
Part-time: 6 years

Program Advisor

MPhil & PhD Programs Coordinator:
Prof Jenny XU, Associate Professor of Economics


The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Program is a research-oriented degree that aims to prepare students for a research and teaching career in universities and research institutes. A candidate for an MPhil degree is expected to demonstrate knowledge in the discipline and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making a contribution to the field. Students intending to do a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program in Economics at HKUST should consider entering the MPhil Program to acquire the training necessary for a PhD degree.

The PhD Program follows a strong research-intensive tradition on the North American model. It is designed to enable students to gain a deep knowledge of management in general, to develop a concentration in a specialized field, and to provide opportunities for students to do significant original research in their chosen area. PhD students are offered intensive and targeted research training and exceptional collaboration opportunities with faculty to prepare them for their future careers in teaching and/or research.

The program is offered by the Department of Economics with the following research foci:

Research Foci

Besides microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics, the Department's research areas focus on:

  • Economic Growth and Development

  • Industrial Organization

  • International Economics

  • China Economy

  • Experimental and Behavioral Economics

  • Monetary and Financial Economics

  • Labor Economics

  1. Minimum Credit Requirement

MPhil: 23 credits
PhD: 36 credits

  1. Credit Transfer

PhD students who have taken the HKUST MPhil Program in Economics will be granted credit transfer to the PhD Program. Students who have taken an MPhil program or equivalent in other universities may be granted credit transfer on a case-by-case basis, up to a maximum of 32 credits.

  1. Introductory Quantitative Requirement

Unless students have clearly demonstrated sufficient knowledge in the area, students entering the MPhil or PhD Program are required to take the following two mathematics-oriented courses in the first regular term of study. The credits earned from these two courses cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.

ECON 5100
ISOM 5540


  1. Course Requirement

MPhil: At least 23 credits as follows, with at least 8 credits of MPhil/PhD level courses in the major field.

PhD: At least 36 credits including the following.

ECON 5210
ECON 5220
ECON 5250
ECON 5260
ECON 5300
ISOM 5550
LANG 5002*
* For PhD students only

Students may need to take additional courses related to their research topics, as requested by their thesis supervisors.

  1. Professional Development Course Requirement

PDEV 6770

Students are required to complete PDEV 6770. The 1 credit earned from PDEV 6770 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.

PhD students who are HKUST MPhil graduates and have completed PDEV 6770 or other professional development courses offered by the University before may be exempted from this requirement, subject to prior approval of the School.

  1. English Language Requirement

LANG 5000

Full-time RPg students are required to take an English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) Speaking Test administered by the Center for Language Education before the start of their first term of study. Students whose ELPA Speaking Test score is below Level 4, or who failed to take the test in their first term of study, are required to take LANG 5000 until they pass the course by attaining at least Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test before graduation. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5000 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.

  1. MPhil Theory Examinations

MPhil students who intend to proceed to the PhD Program in Economics are required to take and pass four theory examinations during their first year of MPhil study. Students are allowed two attempts to pass the four theory examinations. The two attempts must be completed by the end of the first year of the MPhil study. If a student does not pass all four theory examinations in the first attempt, in the second attempt, the student only needs to take those theory examinations failed in the first attempt.

Students who fail to pass the four theory examinations in two attempts may continue their MPhil study, but are not allowed to proceed to the PhD Program.

  1. PhD Qualifying Examination

All PhD students must pass a qualifying examination. There are only two attempts for the qualifying examination, which take place in June and August of the same year.

Students admitted via the HKUST MPhil Program in Economics will take the qualifying examination during the Summer of the first year of MPhil study. Students who fail the qualifying examination in the two attempts may continue their MPhil study, but are not allowed to proceed to the PhD program.

Students admitted without an HKUST MPhil degree in Economics will take the qualifying examination in the Summer of the first year of PhD study. They will take the same qualifying examination as the HKUST MPhil students. Students who fail the qualifying examination after two attempts in the first year of their PhD study are required to withdraw from the PhD Program.

  1. Research Paper Requirement

PhD students are required to submit a research paper by the Summer of the second year of PhD study. Students admitted with an HKUST MPhil degree in Economics or equivalent will be exempted from this requirement.

  1. Thesis Research

ECON 6990
ECON 7990


  1. Registration in ECON 6990; and
  2. Presentation and oral defense of the MPhil thesis.


  1. Registration in ECON 7990; and
  2. Presentation and oral defense of the PhD thesis.


Last update: 31 July 2018

To qualify for admission, applicants must meet all of the following requirements. Admission is selective and meeting these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

1. General Admission Requirements of the University
  • Applicants seeking admission to a doctoral degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree with a proven record of outstanding performance from a recognized institution; or presented evidence of satisfactory work at the postgraduate level on a full-time basis for at least one year, or on a part-time basis for at least two years.
2. English Language Admission Requirements

Applicants have to fulfill English Language requirements with one of the following proficiency attainments:

  • TOEFL-iBT: 80

  • TOEFL-pBT: 550

  • TOEFL-Revised paper-delivered test (effective from 2018/19 admission): 60
    (total scores for Reading, Listening and Writing sections)

  • IELTS (Academic Module): Overall score: 6.0 and All sub-score: 5.5

Applicants don't need to present TOEFL or IELTS score if

  • their first language is English, or

  • they obtained the bachelor's degree (or equivalent) from an institution where the medium of instruction was English.

3. Program-Specific Admission Requirements
  • A satisfactory score in GMAT or GRE