PhD in Public Policy

Program Details

Program duration and Class Hour

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Normally 3 years if a relevant master’s degree is earned prior to entering the PhD program or 4 years with a first degree for full-time; 6 years for part-time study.

Teaching Venue

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Medium of instruction

All lectures and materials are in English

Accommodation Arrangement

Details about accommodation arrangements are available at:

Tuition Fee:

Full-time RPg tuition fees* per annum HKD 42,100
*Payable in two equal installments at the beginning of each semester.

Application Procedures and Admission


Applicants shall submit their applications through the Online Admissions together with all required documents and the application fee. For further details about postgraduate admissions, please visit the Office of Postgraduate Studies website at

Admission Requirements

  • In addition to the University admission requirements, applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree in any field with strong academic performance, especially in analytical courses.
  • Applicants are highly recommended to have a satisfactory GMAT/GRE score.


Interviews or phone interviews are a required part of the admissions process. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by email or by phone for the interviews.

Offer Acceptance and Program Registration Procedures

Applicants shall log in to the Online Admissions System at the Office of Postgraduate Studies website from time to time to check the status of your application and watch out for e-mail notifications sent from the University. Upon receipt of an offer, please follow the steps as set out by the Office of Postgraduate Studies to complete the acceptance of offer and program registration processes.

Curriculum for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program in Public Policy

The PhD in Public Policy program provides rigorous training in public policy research to academically outstanding students aspiring to pursue a career in policy research and teaching. Given the breadth and depth of research faculty expertise across departments and schools in HKUST, students in the Public Policy program will have the opportunity to specialize in one of the following four policy areas: science, technology and innovation policy, environmental policy and sustainability, and social changes and public policy, and China’s development policy.

Program Requirements:

At least 21 credits of coursework, including:

  1. 9 credits from the Core Course List; and
  2. 12 credits from the Elective Course List or other postgraduate course(s) approved by the supervisor and the PG Coordinator.

Subject to approval of the PG Coordinator, students who have taken the HKUST MPhil program in Public Policy will be granted full recognition of credit transfer to the PhD in Public Policy program. Students admitted to the program with a relevant master’s degree may be granted credit transfer on a case-by-case basis. In such case, the maximum number of credits transferrable is 6.

Core Course List:
PPOL 5110 Foundation in Public Policy
PPOL 5120 Research Methods in Public Policy
PPOL 5130  Microeconomics and Public Policy
Elective Course List:
ECON 5280 Applied Econometrics
ECON 5370 Using Data for Economics Analysis
ENVR 5250 Environmental Economics and Management
ENVR 5260 Environmental Policy and Management
ENVR 5290 Climate Change: Science, Policy and Management
ENVR 6060 Sustainability Economics
MGCS 5022 Political Economy of China
MGCS 5023 China's Innovation System: Domestic and International Dimensions
SOSC 5110 Social Science Research Design and Methods
SOSC 5170 Systematic Methods in Qualitative Research
SOSC 5340 Quantitative Analysis in Social Science
SOSC 5700 Categorical Data Analysis
SOSC 5720 Economic Development in China
SOSC 5740 Empirical Analysis in China Studies
SSMA 5050 Economic Transformations in Post-Mao China
SSMA 5140 Innovation and Society
Other Program Requirements
  1. Completion of and passing IDPO 6770 Professional Development for Interdisciplinary Programs (1-credit). Part-time students may be exempted from a maximum of 50% of mini-workshops of IDPO 6770, subject to prior approval of the PG Coordinator of IPP. The 1 credit earned from IDPO 6770 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.
  2. Completion of and passing LANG 5080 English Seminar and Presentation Skills, and LANG 5081 Research Writing Skills. The 6 credits earned from LANG 5080 and LANG 5081 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements. Students can be exempted from taking LANG 5080 and/or LANG 5081 with the approval of the supervisor and the PG Coordinator.
  3. For students whose native language is not English, and do not have a TOEFL score of over 600 (paper-based total) or 250 (computer-based total) or 100 (internet-based total), or an IELTS score of 6.5 or above, or a score of 4 or above in “HKDSE English Language”, they are required to take a course on English writing offered by the Center for Language Education.
  4. Submission of a thesis proposal to the Qualifying Examination Committee who will examine the student’s general background knowledge and knowledge related to the topic of the research. Students must pass the qualifying examination no later than the forth regular term of study for full-time students, or the sixth regular term of study for part-time students.
  5. Additional coursework may be required as a part of the research preparation. Students are also required to register in PPOL 7990 (Doctoral Thesis Research) and complete a thesis under the supervision of a faculty assigned by IPP, and subsequently, present and defend the thesis before the Thesis Examination Committee. They are expected to work closely with their supervisor(s) on an informal rather than formal classroom basis.