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Masters Study in Hong Kong - A Guide for 2018

Its British colonial history has seen Hong Kong incorporate Western capitalism with traditional Chinese spiritualist values. From finance to Feng Shui, Hong Kong is an ultra-modern cosmopolitan city and a global hub for commerce, trade and logistics.

With some of the best universities in both Asia and the world, combined with its diverse cultural history, Hong Kong is a popular destination for students considering Masters study abroad.

We've put together a detailed advice guide on everything you need to know about postgraduate study in Hong Kong. Alternatively, you can start your search for a Hong Kong Masters degree.

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Postgraduate opportunities in Hong Kong – what's on offer for 2018?

With more skyscrapers than any other city, Hong Kong’s Masters degrees offer the chance to take part in forward-thinking research in business, technology and the arts. It’s no wonder that Hong Kong universities host around 14,000 international students, and several institutions appear near the top of various ranking systems.

Here are a few reasons to consider studying a Masters in Hong Kong:

  • Global reputation – Three Hong Kong universities feature in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, an impressive record for a city-state of just over 7 million people!
  • Unique culture – Hong Kong is an incredibly cosmopolitan place, blending Western and Eastern influences for a diverse urban experience.
  • English is an official language – English is the language of instruction at most universities, making Hong Kong an attractive prospect for graduates from across the world.
  • Funding opportunities – There are several funding opportunities for international students in Hong Kong, including a government scholarship programme.

Masters Study in Hong Kong - Key Details
Universities 20
Oldest University University of Hong Kong (1912)
International Students 14,000
Course Length 1-2 years
Average Fees HKD $90,000-265,000 (USD $11,500-34,000)
Academic Year September to August

Hong Kong universities

British colonial rule over Hong Kong influenced many aspects of the city’s modern culture, and the higher education system is no exception. The University Grants Committee (UGC) of Hong Kong is an advisory committee that consults with the Government of Hong Kong on the development and funding needs of the region’s universities.

Nine public universities are funded by the state in Hong Kong, eight of which are UGC run. Public universities in Hong Kong include some of the world’s most highly regarded institutions.

There are also eleven private universities in Hong Kong. As these institutions are not included in the UGC funding, they are self-funded.

Hong Kong university rankings

Hong Kong universities are represented strongly across all three major global league rankings, as you can see in the table below. A clutch of institutions feature in the top 50 of the QS league, while most of the seven featured universities are among the top 300. Not a bad record when you consider the relatively small size of the Hong Kong higher education system!


Top Hong Kong Universities in 2018
University THE 2018 QS 2018 ARWU 2017
University of Hong Kong 40 26 101-150
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 44 30 201-300
Chinese University of Hong Kong 58 46 151-200
City University of Hong Kong =119 49 201-300
Hong Kong Polytechnic University =182 =95 201-300
Hong Kong Baptist University 401-500 =299 -
Lingnan University, Hong Kong - 551-600 -
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Course types

Masters degrees in Hong Kong can be either taught or research-based programmes. Taught Masters will have a similar structure to undergraduate degrees, combining lectures, seminars, group and individual coursework. Research-based Masters, meanwhile, are excellent preparation for PhD work.

Assessment for both kinds of qualification will be based on written exams and projects, as well as a lengthy dissertation. You might also have to give an oral presentation on your dissertation.

MBAs are another popular qualification in Hong Kong, with the territory’s status as a global commercial hub.

Course length

The academic year in Hong Kong begins in September and ends in August. Similar to other countries, Masters programmes in Hong Kong normally take between one and two years to complete.

Do university rankings matter for postgraduates?

University league tables can help you in your search for a Masters degree, but you need to know what to look for. Our guide to university rankings for Masters study can help.

Masters fees and funding in Hong Kong

Tuition and living fees in Hong Kong can be fairly high. However, there are a number of funding opportunities to apply for that can help you cover some of the costs of your Masters degree.

Application fees for Masters in Hong Kong

A Masters application fee in Hong Kong normally ranges between HKD $180-500 (USD $25-65).

This fee is payable after completing your online application through the university website.

Tuition fees for Masters in Hong Kong

International Masters students in Hong Kong can often be expected to pay a significantly higher rate of tuition fees to local students.

Annual tuition fees for international students range depending on university and programme, but can cost between HKD $90,000-265,000 (USD $11,500-34,000).

Other fees

It is common in Hong Kong for universities to charge students a caution fee of about HKD $300 (USD $40) when registering.

Charges will be made against this deposit if there are any unpaid claims against you at the end of your study, such as outstanding library charges. If you have no outstanding charges against your student account, the caution fee will be fully refunded.

It is also normal for a graduation fee of around HKD $300 (USD $40) to be charged before your degree is awarded to you. However, should your caution fee be refunded to you, the graduation fee can be covered by the transfer of your refund.

Scholarships for Masters in Hong Kong

Although the cost of tuition in Hong Kong is high, fortunately there are many scholarships available for international students.

Application processes are similar to the UK and you should check individual university websites for available scholarships.

Government scholarships in Hong Kong

The HKSAR Government Scholarship Fund has established a HKD $1 billion fund to distribute to outstanding local and international students. The scholarship for internationals is HKD $80,000 (USD $10,220) per year, for full time programmes at any of the eight UGC institutions.

For more information visit the HKSAR Education website.

Student living costs in Hong Kong

The cost of living in Hong Kong is generally much higher than in other parts of Asia, but international students can still enjoy a good standard of living without footing too high a bill.

Whilst studying in Hong Kong, you can choose either to live in university or private accommodation.

University accommodation in Hong Kong is normally cheaper, more modern and more convenient than private housing. You can expect to pay HKD $5,000-20,000 (USD $640-2,555) per semester on-campus, whereas private housing may cost you a similar amount per month.

As can be expected with a city that is an economic trade hub, living costs can be similar to London or New York. However, the city has a cheap public transport system and clothes stores that sell items at a lower price.

As a rough guide, you should budget around HKD $50,000 (USD $6,385) per year for living expenses.

Applying for a Masters in Hong Kong

To apply for a Masters degree in Hong Kong you’ll need a relevant undergraduate degree. It’s common for universities to expect you to have an undergraduate B grade average or 3.0 GPA (grade point average). However, some specific programmes may require higher grades.

The application process takes place online for most degrees in Hong Kong. Once you have registered for an application account on your chosen university’s website, you will be able to complete the application form.

Supporting documents

To support your application for a Masters programme, you may need to provide the following documents:

  • Two to five referees with written reports
  • Proof of undergraduate degree certificates and transcripts

Language requirements

Masters courses in Hong Kong are taught in both English and Cantonese, the city’s two official languages.

If English is not your first language and you want to study a Hong Kong Masters degree delivered in English, you’ll probably need to submit a language test score.

Universities in Hong Kong will normally accept either the IELTS (International Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests.

Minimum score requirements will typically be as follows:

  • An IELTS score of 6.0 or better
  • A TOEFL score of 550 (paper based) or 79 (computer based)

If you are interested in studying a local language while in Hong Kong, most universities offer beginner level courses in both Cantonese and Putonghua. Check with your chosen university for more information.

Want to know more about postgraduate language tests?

Academic language tests are a common part of applications for postgraduate study abroad, but they don't have to be confusing. Our guides to postgraduate language tests cover popular English tests such as the TOEFL and IELTS.

Masters student visas in Hong Kong

Once accepted by a Hong Kong university, as an international student you must apply for a student visa/entry permit.

Visa application and fees

International students who wish to study in Hong Kong are required to have a student visa.

You will need to complete and sign the ID995 A and B forms. For more information, take a look at the Hong Kong government’s immigration department website.

In addition to the visa, you will need a local sponsor. Your university will normally be able to provide this service, or arrange it for you.

Supporting visa documents

The Immigration Department will usually require the following supporting documents to be submitted to support your visa application:

  • ID995 A form, completed and signed
  • ID995 B form, completed by university representative
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Travel itinerary with proof of flights
  • Recent passport photo
  • Proof of admission letter from an education institution in Hong Kong
  • Evidence of financial support such as bank statements or proof of scholarship funds
  • Evidence of your accommodation arrangement in Hong Kong

It can take up to six weeks to process a visa, so make sure you leave enough time to receive yours before you travel. You will also need to renew your visa each year you study.

Part-time work

As permitted by the student visa, international students are allowed to take up part-time work in certain circumstances. As you’re studying for longer than a year, you can find employment through:

  • a study-related internship
  • a part-time on-campus job of up to 20 hours a week
  • a summer job (from 1 June until 31 August), with no restrictions in terms of hours and location

Health insurance

It is compulsory for international students to have health insurance throughout the entire duration of study in Hong Kong. It’s advisable to arrange this before you arrive in the country, but most Hong Kong universities offer their own medical insurance plans for students.

Next steps

Hong Kong is very accommodating to international students who wish to stay and work after their degree. The "Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates" scheme allows international graduates to apply for 12 months' stay. It is not necessary to secure a job offer before applying to stay.

Alternatively, your university’s careers adviser will be able to assist you with local industry knowledge.

Ready to start looking for a Masters in Hong Kong?

Hopefully this page has answered your questions about Masters degrees in Hong Kong. If you're ready to start your postgraduate study abroad adventure, the next step is to search for a Hong Kong Masters degree.

Last updated - 04/04/2018

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