Registration in Programs

Maintaining Registration

Program registration involves payment of tuition and other prescribed fees, and completion of the registration process. Failure to maintain registration in the program in any regular term will result in automatic withdrawal from the program and the University, unless a formal approval of Leave from Study has been obtained from the student’s department. Moreover, students must be officially registered in their programs in the regular term when they are being considered for graduation from the programs concerned.

Double Registration

Unless prior permission from the Academic Registrar is obtained, students are not permitted to concurrently register for another program at this University or at another tertiary institution. If students are found to be registered elsewhere without seeking prior approval, they will normally be required to discontinue their study at this University.
Students who wish to apply for simultaneous registration are required to submit an “Application for Double Registration” (form RR-29) to Academic Records and Registration, Academic Registry together with appropriate documentary evidence. Students will be notified of the result of the application in writing.

Late Registration

Non-local postgraduate students admitted to the University in a particular academic year must complete registration in their programs by the end of the add/drop period in the Fall or Spring Term. Under special circumstances, students may apply in writing to Academic Records and Registration, Academic Registry via the department for late program registration for the term concerned

Mode of Study

Most postgraduate programs are available in both full-time and part-time modes of study. The MPhil and PhD are research degrees, and students in some disciplines may be required to participate in research on a full-time basis.
Postgraduate students may apply to their department, prior to the beginning of any regular term, for transfer from full-time to part-time status or from part-time to full-time status. When such a transfer is allowed, the remaining program requirements will be determined.
Full-time students in MPhil and PhD programs are expected to be in attendance on a year-round basis. For part-time students, attendance shall be as above except on a part-time basis as defined by the requirements of their programs of study.

Normative Period of Study

The normative period of study for completing a PhD degree in full-time mode is four years after the first degree with a reduction of one year if a relevant research postgraduate degree is earned prior to entering the PhD program. For an MPhil degree in full-time mode, the normative period of study is two years.
The maximum time allowed for degree completion is five years for a master’s degree and eight years for a doctoral degree. Time limits for part-time study are the same as for full-time study. The time limits are in effect whether or not the student is in continuous registration. That is, period of approved Leave from Study, and suspension period are also counted toward the maximum time allowed for degree completion.

Residency Requirements

Full-time research postgraduate students are required to be on campus full-time and consequently in such geographical proximity as to be able to participate fully in University activities associated with the program. Residency provides students with an opportunity to become immersed in the intellectual environment of the University. Also included in residency are periods during which students’ research requires off-campus field or non-HKUST laboratory work. The residency requirement stipulates the minimum period of study that a research postgraduate student needs to be effectively enrolled in a program before the student can be considered for program completion.
The residency requirement for a full-time MPhil degree is two regular terms; and that for a full-time PhD degree is three regular terms if a relevant research master’s degree is earned prior to entering the PhD program, but four regular terms if only a first degree is earned prior to entering the PhD program.
A regular term of residency of a part-time student counts as a one-half regular term of residency. Students who have not completed their thesis work should continue registration on a full- or part-time basis, without interruption.

Leave from Study

Students are discouraged from interrupting their program of study. In exceptional circumstances with sufficient justification, students may apply for Leave from Study for one regular term, subject to approval of the department. Applications for Leave from Study for two consecutive regular terms require the approval of the Dean or the Dean’s designee. Applications for Leave from Study for more than two consecutive regular terms will normally not be considered. Any exception to this rule requires the approval of the Office of Postgraduate Studies.
The approved period of Leave from Study will be counted toward the time limit for completion of the program being pursued.
To apply for Leave from Study, students should submit an “Application for Leave from Study” (form RR-8a) together with the appropriate supporting documents to the department for approval before the start of the proposed leave period.

Retention of Student Status

Research postgraduate students who submit their theses for examination at least four weeks before the commencement of the following regular term, and who are unable to sit for their thesis examinations before the start of the following regular term through no fault of their own, are allowed to retain their student status for a period not longer than four weeks into the following regular term.
Those students whose date of submission of thesis copies for examination falls short of the four-week period prior to the start of a regular term are not eligible to apply for retention of student status.
Students are required to submit an “Application for Retention of Student Status (for Research Postgraduates)” (form RR-36) to Academic Records and Registration, Academic Registry within two weeks after they have submitted their thesis copies to departments for examination purpose.
During this four-week non-fee paying period, these students are still regarded as students of the University and are entitled to normal student services. However, they are not entitled to receive postgraduate studentships nor to University student accommodation.
The respective thesis examinations should be held within the first three weeks of the following regular term, leaving at least one week for the candidates to submit the final version of their theses. In the event that students are unable to submit their final theses before the end of the four-week period, they are required to register as regular students to maintain their student status. They have to complete program and course registration, and pay the tuition for the term concerned.

Continuing Student Status

Research postgraduate students who are studying beyond the normative period of study and in their final stage of thesis writing may apply to register as Continuing Student, and pay a reduced tuition fee equivalent to a quarter of the full-time tuition fee. Their previous mode of study, whether full-time or part-time before changing to Continuing Student status, will remain unchanged. The application “Application for Continuing Student Status of Research Postgraduate Students” (form RR-45), duly considered and endorsed by the thesis supervisor, and department head or PG Coordinator, has to reach Academic Records and Registration, Academic Registry at least four weeks before the start of the term the Continuing Student status is to be effected.
Continuing Students, regardless of their mode of study, are not eligible to receive any forms of financial assistance, and are not entitled to University student accommodation. There is no time limit for research postgraduates to register as Continuing Student. However, the maximum time allowed for program completion still holds. Once having registered for the Continuing Student status, students are not allowed to change back to regular student status.

Off-campus Research Status

Research postgraduate students who are officially assigned by their thesis supervisors to conduct study-related research outside Hong Kong are eligible for registering on the “Off-campus Research” status.

Students approved to hold the “Off-campus Research” status remain officially registered in their programs. They are required to pay tuition fee at HKUST, and are allowed to register for or audit course(s). They enjoy all the rights as other full-time RPg students studying on campus, including postgraduate studentship or part-time research assistantship, group personal accident insurance, and student accommodation, where appropriate. They are governed by all HKUST regulations and policies relevant and applicable to RPg students. They may be considered for graduation from the program concerned.

The off-campus research period will be officially recorded on student’s academic transcript, and will count toward the residency requirements of research postgraduate programs as well as the maximum time allowed for degree completion.

Students who wish to apply for the off-campus research status are required to submit an “Application for Off-Campus Research Status” to the department for approval prior to the commencement of the off-campus research.

Changes of Registration

A student may change from one program of study to another with the permission of the department to which the student wishes to transfer. If a transfer is approved, that department will determine which credits from the student’s former program apply to the new program. Normally, the transfer will not be effected until the following regular term. Students who wish to transfer to another program of study in the middle of a term should obtain the prior approval of the department and the Dean or the Dean’s designee. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, requests for program transfers to be effected in the middle of a term are not supported.
For students who have transferred from one program of study to another, the maximum time for program completion will be counted from the first day of registration at the University.
To apply for program transfer, students are required to submit an “Application for Program Transfer/Change of Academic Load (for Postgraduate Students)” (form RR-6a) to the receiving department for consideration.

Registration Beyond Program Completion

Students who have completed their program requirements are not allowed to continue their registration for the same program of study in subsequent regular terms.

Withdrawal from the University

Students who withdraw, or are required to withdraw, from the University must complete clearance procedures as specified by the Academic Registrar. Only students who have completed the clearance procedures for withdrawal will be entitled to receive refund of caution money and a free copy of the transcript of studies.
To apply for withdrawal and refund of caution money, students should complete and return the “Application for Withdrawal of Study” (form RR-12) form to Academic Records and Registration, Academic Registry.