Postgraduate Programs 2018/19
Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy Programs in Computer Science and Engineering
Award Title

Master of Philosophy in Computer Science and Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Engineering

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

PG Programs Coordinator:
Prof Ke YI, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Program seeks to strengthen students' knowledge in computer science and expose them to issues involved in the development, scientific, educational and commercial applications of computer systems. 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.


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program aims to develop the skills needed to identify research issues related to a practical application, to formulate an original research plan that addresses some of those issues, and to independently create a computing-related solution. A candidate for a PhD degree is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in the chosen discipline and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the discipline.

The programs are offered by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering with the following research foci and state-of-the-art facilities, training students with the skillsets to make the useful applications in modern life.


Research Foci

Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning, data mining and pattern recognition, knowledge representation and reasoning, robotics and sensor-based activity recognition, multi-agent and game theory, and speech and language processing.


Data, Knowledge and Information Management

Large-scale data management, modeling and distribution encompassing web query processing, information retrieval and web search, data mining, enterprise systems, high-performance data management systems on modern computers, and database support for science applications.


Human-Computer Interaction

Augmented reality, multi-touch interaction, crowdsourcing, multimodal communication, affective computer, visual analytics of big data, intelligent interface for robots, e-learning, healthcare and e-commerce.


Networking and Computer Systems

Pervasive computing and sensor networks, peer-to-peer computing, grid computing, high-performance switches and routers, video delivery and multicasting, multimedia networking, MAC protocols for ad-hoc networks, web cache management, DDOS detection and defense, and resource management and allocation in optical networks.


Software Technology and Applications

Software engineering, data mining for software analysis and debugging, computer music, cryptography and security, internet computing.


Theoretical Computer Science

Combinatorial optimization, performance analysis techniques, computational geometry, formal languages and machines, graph algorithms, and algorithmic combinatorial game theory.


Vision and Graphics

Computer vision, computer graphics, medical image analysis, biometric systems, and video processing.



The Department has excellent facilities to support its programs and is committed to keeping its computing facilities up to date. There are about 700 workstations and PCs, including those in four teaching laboratories, three MS Windows Labs and one Linux lab. The Department also runs several research laboratories with specific facilities, including the computer engineering, database, Human-Computer Interaction Initiative, vision and graphics labs. Specialized project laboratories include:

  • The HCI lab, has a 4x3 large display array and 120" rear projected 3D active stereo system, large-sized multi-touch panels, linked with various physiological sensors for gesture/ body tracking, and programmable interactive robots;

  • The Human Language Technology Center, with various corpora and a Linux cluster;

  • The System and Media Laboratory, partially funded by Deutsche Telekom, focusing mobile computing and any interesting topics related to social network, virtual reality and augmented reality; and

  • The Networking group that maintains different sets of network cluster for Data center and cloud computing research.

  • Different research groups maintain their own CPU/ GPU cluster customized for different research need.


In addition, the Department manages a pool of Linux servers as CPU/ GPU cluster for general research projects demanding significant system resources, and acquires a GPU cluster for the whole University. The file servers are connected with one HDS VPS G200 and one HDS HUS110 Storage Area Network (SAN), with a total capacity of more than 150TB. There is also a pool of high performance servers with GPUs and interconnected with 10GbE switches dedicated for undergraduate courses on parallel computing, Big Data analysis and cloud computing.

  1. Minimum Credit Requirement

MPhil: 16 credits

PhD: 19 credits


  1. Credit Transfer

For PhD students, credits transferred from programs completed in other universities will be considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to the approval of the departmental PG Committee. No UG courses can be used for credit transfer to the PhD program. Credits from no more than two PG courses can be transferred from outside the Department.


  1. Required Courses


15 credits of postgraduate courses, of which at least 8 credits must be earned at HKUST. Courses used to satisfy the credit requirements must cover at least four established research areas of the Department.



  1. 18 credits of postgraduate courses, of which 12 credits (i.e. 4 courses) are required to be earned from PG core courses in different selected core research areas. A list of PG core courses and their affiliated areas is maintained by the Department. Students must complete two of the PG core courses in the first year of their PhD study, and all four PG core courses by the end of their second year of study. Students must obtain a B+ or above for all four PG core courses. Only one Independent Studies course may be used to satisfy the course requirements. No undergraduate course can be used to satisfy any of these PG course requirements.
  2. PhD students must obtain a grade B or above in each of the following UG courses or equivalent, subject to the approval of the PG Coordinator. Credits earned from the following UG courses cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.
COMP 3511
COMP 3711
COMP 3721


  1. School Requirements on PhD Programs

In addition to the program requirements, all full-time and part-time PhD students are required to complete the school requirements, which aim to help students gain a wider exposure to multidisciplinary areas, and attain all-rounded learning by broadening their knowledge base.

PhD students are required to take at least a 3-credit course at 5000-level or above outside their programs offered by the School of Engineering. The 3 credits may be satisfied by courses from other Schools upon approval.

In some exceptional cases where students can provide sufficient justifications and obtain prior approval from their supervisors, PG Coordinators, and Heads of Department/Program Directors or designees, they are allowed to take the 3-credit course within their home departments/programs but the course must be in areas outside their specialty.

Details of the requirements are available on the website of the School of Engineering.


  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.

LANG 5001

Students are required to complete LANG 5001. Students can be exempted from taking LANG 5001 with the agreement of the Department Head and PG Coordinator. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5001 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.


  1. Postgraduate Seminars

MPhil/PhD: 1 credit

COMP 6911
COMP 6912

Students are required to complete COMP 6911 and COMP 6912 in two terms.


  1. PhD Qualifying Examination

PhD students are required to pass a qualifying examination within the first 22 months after admission, with a maximum of two attempts. The qualifying examination consists of a comprehensive, written critical survey and review of the student's intended research focus, and a public oral examination.


Students are also required to submit a thesis proposal and defend it at a public oral examination, normally within one year after satisfying the qualifying examination requirement, with a maximum of two attempts. The second attempt must be completed within six months of the first attempt. The thesis proposal requirement must be completed before attempting the final thesis defense.


  1. Thesis Research
COMP 6990
COMP 7990


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


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


Last update: 18 August 2021

  1. Energy Technology Concentration

In addition to the existing program requirements, students who opt for the Energy Technology concentration are required to:

  1. Take one ENEG course.
  2. Complete ENEG 6010 for one term.
ENEG 6010


  1. Conduct research in energy area.


  1. Scientific Computation Concentration

In addition to the existing program requirements, students who opt for the Scientific Computation concentration are required to:

  1. MPhil:
    Complete a minimum of 7 credits from the following course lists.
    Complete a minimum of 10 credits from the following course lists.

    The credits earned under the concentration will be counted toward the total credit requirements of the programs.

    Core Courses
    MPhil: at least 3 credits
    PhD: at least 6 credits

    All students must take MATH 6915 and MATH 6916. Credits earned from MATH 6915 can be repeated for up to 2 credits.
COMP 5112
CIVL 5390
orMECH 5930
CSIC 5001
CSIC 5011
CSIC 5031
MATH 5311
MATH 6915
MATH 6916


Elective Courses

CHEM 5210
CHEM 5220
COMP 5212
COMP 5213
COMP 5331
COMP 5421
CSIC 5190
ELEC 5810
ELEC 5140
MATH 5350
MATH 5411
MATH 5431
MECH 5230
MECH 5280
PHYS 5120
PHYS 5410
MSDM 5004


  1. Conduct research in the area of scientific computation.


Last update: 25 March 2021

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 master's degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, or an approved equivalent qualification;

  • 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.