Three-year Degree Academic Regulations

Academic Regulations (ARs) are approved by the University Senate to govern the progress of undergraduate students through programs of study leading to degrees awarded by the Senate. Only the University Senate, or those with authority delegated by the Senate, can approve exceptions, exemptions or variations from the Academic Regulations.

These Regulations are supplemented by detailed information about requirements for specific programs of study and information on administrative procedures.

1. Medium of Instruction and Assessment
2. Admissions
3. Registration in Programs
4. Curriculum Requirements
5. Course Registration
6. Credit Transfer and Exemptions from Program Requirements
7. Course Grading
8. Grade Averages
9. Progression and Academic Standing
10. Academic Dismissal
11. Academic Honors
12. Graduation and Degree Classification
  Glossary of Terms


1. Medium of Instruction and Assessment

Unless otherwise approved by the Senate for a specific course or program of study, English is the medium of instruction and assessment at the University.

2. Admissions

2.1  Admission Requirements

To qualify for admission to the University, applicants must meet (i) the University Admission Requirements, (ii) the admission requirements of the School for which they are applying, and (iii) the English Language admission requirement.

University and School Admission Requirements are minimum requirements for admission. Holding these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

Applicants who possess other qualifications equivalent to the University requirements for admission may submit applications for admission, for consideration on the basis of individual merit.

Applicants may be requested to attend personal interviews or take additional tests administered by the University.

[Details of the University’s admission requirements are available at]

2.2  Visiting Students
  Students enrolled in tertiary institutions outside Hong Kong who wish to study at the University on a short-term basis may be admitted as Visiting Students. Visiting Students may take courses, but are not enrolled on any specific program of studies.
2.3  Admissions Process

Applicants should observe the application procedures set out by the Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions Office.

[Details of the admissions process are set out at]

2.4  Re-admission
  If former students who have withdrawn from the University are re-admitted, course grades and credits (i) taken within five years prior to re-admission and (ii) not used to earn any academic qualification at the University or elsewhere may be used to fulfill requirements for their program.

3. Registration in Programs

3.1  Maintaining Registration
  All undergraduate students are admitted as full-time students. Registration is confirmed only when students have completed the registration process and paid tuition and other prescribed fees. Students who fail to maintain registration may be required to withdraw from the University.
3.2  Double Registration
  Unless prior permission from the University is obtained, students are not permitted to concurrently register for another program at another post-secondary institution.
3.3  Study Commitment

Undergraduate students may not engage in employment for more than 10 hours per week on average during a regular term. Any exception to this rule requires the approval of the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate.

3.4  Extension of Study beyond the Normal Duration

Students are expected to complete the requirements for an undergraduate degree in three years, excluding any period of approved Leave from Study.

Students who have been registered for three years, excluding any Leave from Study, may extend their studies for one additional academic year with the approval of the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate.

Students who have completed the requirements for graduation may register as Associate Students. Associate Students must have their program of study approved by the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate.

Students extending their studies are subject to all University regulations and are entitled to normal student services. However, student housing is not available to such students.

[Students registered in programs that require a normative duration of study of more than three years require approval for extension of study under AR 3.4 beyond the end of the normative duration.]

[Information on course fees for students extending their studies beyond the normal duration of study and for Associate Students is available under “Program Registration – Tuition & Fees” Section on the ARRO website.]
3.5  Leave from Study
  In exceptional circumstances, students may be granted Leave from Study with the approval of the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate. Leave from Study cumulating to more than one academic year will not normally be granted.
3.6  Registration for Minor Programs

Registration for a minor requires the approval of the Minor-program Coordinator.

Students may be required to register for a minor to be eligible for registration in courses included in the minor program.

Students who wish a minor to be recorded on their transcript, must register in the minor no later than the last day of the add/drop period in the first regular term of their final year of study.

Students who wish to withdraw from a minor program must apply to the Minor-program Coordinator before the deadline specified by that minor program.

3.7  Changes of Registration
  Students already registered in a major program may register in another major program only with the approval of the Dean, or the Dean’s designate, of the School in which they are seeking registration, or the Director of the Interdisciplinary Programs Office (IPO) for programs under IPO.
3.8  Withdrawal from the University
  Students who withdraw, or are required to withdraw, from the University must complete clearance procedures as specified by the Director of Academic Records and Registration.

4. Curriculum Requirements

4.1 Requirements for Three-year Bachelor’s Degrees

To gain an award of a bachelor’s degree, students are required to:

  1. Earn at least 90 credits in approved courses, or through credit transfer subject to AR 6.3
  2. Complete the requirements of the University Common Core
  3. Complete School requirements, if any
  4. Complete requirements for their major program.
4.2 Additional Majors

With the approval of the relevant Major-program Coordinators, students may complete the requirements for more than one major program. Except in the case of specifically approved dual-degree programs, students may graduate with only one degree.

Students may be required to designate a first major to facilitate priority in registration for courses required to complete their program of study.

4.3 Transcripts
  Students who complete the requirements for an option under a major program, a minor, or the requirements of an additional major program may have this recorded on their transcript.
4.4 Detailed Information

Requirements for programs of study leading to undergraduate degrees are approved for each year of entry. Students must follow the curriculum approved for their year of entry throughout their period of study, unless otherwise advised by the University.

[Detailed curriculum requirements for students admitted in the current academic year are published at “Program Catalog” and for students admitted in previous years at “Undergraduate Curriculum Handbook”.]
4.5 Deviations from Curriculum
  Deviations from University requirements under AR 4.1 (i) and (ii) must be approved by the Provost, or the Provost’s designate. Deviations from School requirements under AR 4.1 (iii) or requirements of major or minor programs must be approved by the relevant Dean, or the Dean’s designate.

5. Course Registration

5.1 Course Selection and Registration
  Students are responsible for their own studies at the University. They should ensure that they understand the curriculum requirements for their program and plan ahead to complete their program within the permitted duration of study.
5.2 Eligibility for Registration
  Registration for some courses (e.g. courses required for a major) may be restricted to eligible students (e.g. students registered in the major).
5.3 Course Registration Procedures
  Students must register for courses according to the procedures established by the Academic Records and Registration Office (ARRO). Students who are not registered for a course will not be awarded any grade for the course.
5.4 Maximum and Minimum Study Load

In each regular term, students within their normal duration of study and in good academic standing must register for courses to a total of at least 12 credits, and for not more than 18 credits.

Students seeking an exemption from AR 5.4 require the approval of the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate.

Students who do not maintain appropriate course registration may be required to withdraw from the University.

5.5 Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

A pre-requisite is a level of attainment in public examinations or a course which must be taken and passed before registration for credit in a specified course.

A co-requisite is a course which must be taken prior to, or at the same time as, the specified course.

Exemptions from pre-requisite or co-requisite requirements require the approval of the instructor responsible for the course.

5.6 Exclusions
  Students who have achieved a specified attainment in public examinations or have completed, or are registered in, a specified course may not register for credit in an excluded course.
5.7 Equivalent Courses
  Where more than one course meets a requirement of a program of study, these courses may be designated as equivalent courses.
5.8 Co-listed Courses
  A co-listed course is a course offered under more than one course code. There may be different assessment schemes or assignments under each code, but students may register and earn credit for only one of the co-listed versions of the course.
5.9 Course Auditing
  With the permission of the course instructor, students may register in a course as an auditor and attend the course and participate in course activities. Auditing students will not be awarded a grade or earn credits. Subject to satisfactory completion of requirements set by the instructor, the course will be designated AU on the student’s transcript. Otherwise the course will be removed from the registration record.
5.10 Course Add/Drop and Course Withdrawal

Students may make changes to their course registration during the add/drop period scheduled at the beginning of each term. Changes made in this period will not be included in the student’s record.

Requests to add a course or to withdraw from a course after the add/drop period will not be accepted, except under extenuating circumstances, and require the approval of the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate.


6. Credit Transfer and Exemptions from Program Requirements

6.1 Credit Transfer

Transfer of credits may be granted to students in recognition of studies completed elsewhere than HKUST at an appropriate level as recognized by the University.

Transfer of credit can be of two types: course-credit transfer, where a transferred course is equivalent to a specific course in the HKUST course catalog, or credit-only transfer, where only credits are transferred.

Transfer credits granted will not be included in the calculation of grade averages, unless prior arrangements have been made.

6.2 Exemption from Requirements
  Students may be granted an exemption from course requirements or other requirements of a program without the transfer of credits on the basis of studies completed elsewhere than HKUST at an appropriate level.
6.3 Minimum HKUST Credits

To graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University, students must complete a minimum of one year of full-time study at HKUST and obtain a minimum 35 HKUST course credits.

The minimum number of HKUST credits required for graduation from a major, minor, or the University Common Core may also be specified.

6.4 Applications

Applications for credit transfer or for an exemption from a program requirement may be submitted in two circumstances:

Prior to Admission to HKUST
•  Students’ prior study should be disclosed in their applications for admission, and applications for credit transfer or exemptions must be submitted to the appropriate office for approval no later than one month after the beginning of the student’s first regular term of study at HKUST.

During Registration at HKUST
•  Students who complete studies elsewhere during their registration at HKUST, for example on an exchange program, can apply for credit transfer or exemptions. Applications must be submitted to the appropriate office for approval no later than one month after a student’s return to study at HKUST.

[Details of the application procedures are available under “Academic Progress” section on the ARRO website.]


7. Course Grading

7.1 Grades for Undergraduate Courses
  Grades and grade points for course assessment are stated in the table below. For the purpose of calculating grade point averages, numerical grade points are assigned for course grades, except for the following: AU, DI, I, P, PA, PP and W.
Letter Grades Grade Point Definitions
  A+ 4.3  
  A 4.0 Excellent Performance
  A- 3.7  
  B+ 3.3  
  B 3.0 Good Performance
  B- 2.7  
  C+ 2.3  
  C 2.0 Satisfactory Performance
  C- 1.7  
  D 1.0 Marginal Pass
  F 0 Fail
(1) DI   Distinction
(1) PA   Pass (under the DI/PA/F grading system)
  P   Pass (under the P/F grading system)
(2) PP   Permitted to Proceed
  I   Incomplete (see AR 7.4)
  AU   Audited (see AR 5.9)
  W   Withdrawal without Penalty
1. The DI and PA grades can only be used under the “Distinction/Pass/Fail” grading system.
2. The Permitted to Proceed (PP) grade may be given in two-part or three-part project courses. When progress in thesis or project work is satisfactory but not scheduled for completion at the end of a term, the PP grade will be used. It will be converted to the grade given at the end of the final part of the course. The PP grade is also used at the end of the first term of a two-regular term course.  In this case, the PP grade is left unchanged when the final grade is recorded at the end of the second term.
7.2 Assignment of Grades

Grades with grade points assigned are the default grades for courses. Other grades may only be used where this is approved for the course.

Grades should be assigned on the basis of assessment activities established by the instructor at the beginning of the course and completed by the end of the examination period.

7.3 Course Repeats

Students who received a grade F for any course may request to repeat the course to improve their grade. Otherwise courses may not be repeated to improve grades. A failed course may be repeated only once.

F grades will be included in the student’s record, but where a course is repeated, the previous F grade will not be included in the calculation of grade averages.

7.4 Incomplete Grades
  An Incomplete (I) grade is used when completion of a student’s work is necessarily delayed. This grade must be converted to a regular grade at least one working day before the start of the following regular term; otherwise the I grade is converted to F.
7.5 Illness or Other Circumstances Affecting Assessment
  If students wish the University to take into account illness or some other extenuating circumstances that have affected their performance in an examination, or ability to attend an examination, or to complete other assessment activities, they must report the circumstances of the case in writing and provide appropriate documentation to ARRO within one week of the scheduled date of the assessment activity. The Director of ARRO will review the case and make a recommendation to the relevant Dean or the Dean’s designate.
7.6 Grade Review

Students who consider that a mistake has been made in the process of calculating or determining a grade for a course may apply for a review of the grade. They should first discuss the matter with the course instructor as soon as the course grades are released. Where a clerical or administrative error has been made, the department/unit responsible for the course will report the revised grade to ARRO.

If the student’s concern remains unresolved after this informal discussion, the student may submit a request for a grade review to the Head of the course-offering department/unit in writing within two weeks from the day on which grades are released:

i. Stating the grounds for the request for review
ii. Describing the relevant facts
iii. Providing supporting evidence

If a review is granted, the Head will arrange for the review within three weeks after the release of the grade.

Requests for review of course grades should normally be resolved at the department/unit level. Students who wish to appeal against the decision of the department/unit must do so in writing to the Dean of the School within two weeks of receiving the decision stating the grounds for the appeal.

Upon receipt of the written appeal, the Dean will determine whether or not a further review of the grade should be granted and how the review will be conducted. The Dean’s decision is final.


8. Grade Averages

Two course-grade averages are calculated: a term grade average (TGA) for each term of study; and the cumulative grade average (CGA). A student’s TGA and CGA will be calculated at the end of each of the four terms of study based on the grade points earned for all courses taken in a term.

Courses with the grade of Incomplete, Audit, Pass, Distinction or Permitted to Proceed, and repeated courses under AR 7.3 do not count toward any grade point average.

9. Progression and Academic Standing

9.1 Regular Terms

Decisions on students’ academic standing and progress are made only at the end of regular terms: the Fall Term and the Spring Term.

9.2 Academic Warning
  Students whose TGA or CGA at the end of any regular term is less than 1.7 will be placed on Academic Warning. Students on Academic Warning will be required to seek academic advice.
9.3 Academic Probation

Students whose CGA falls below 1.5 at the end of any regular term, excluding the first point of CGA calculation after entry, will be put on Academic Probation. Students on Academic Probation are not permitted to register in courses without approval, and they may be required to reduce their study load.

Students will remain on Academic Probation until their CGA rises to 1.5 or above.


10. Academic Dismissal

Students who have been on Academic Probation at the end of three consecutive regular terms and students who have twice failed a course that is a requirement for their graduation will be reported to the relevant Dean. The Dean may recommend to the Provost that the student is dismissed from the University. In making this recommendation the Dean should consider:

i. Whether the student can present credible evidence of extenuating circumstances for on-going poor academic performance
ii. Whether the student has a reasonable chance of successfully completing the requirements for an award
iii. Whether maintaining the student’s registration is consistent with the University’s responsibility for making the best use of its resources

The Provost’s decision is final.

11. Academic Honors

11.1 Dean's List
  Undergraduate students will be placed on the Dean’s List at the end of the regular Fall and Spring Terms when in that term: (i) their TGA is at least 3.7 calculated from at least 12 credits registered, (ii) they have not failed any course, and (iii) they have not committed any confirmed act of academic dishonesty.
11.2 Academic Achievement Medal

The Academic Achievement Medal is awarded to outstanding graduates in the year of their graduation. To be considered as a recipient of the award, students must have:

i. Failed no course during their studies at HKUST; and
ii. Achieved a final cumulative grade average (CGA) of at least 3.9, with at least 60 HKUST credits included in the calculation.

Students may be awarded an Academic Achievement Medal for only one degree.


12. Graduation and Degree Classification

12.1 Graduation on Completion of Studies
  When students have completed the requirements for an award, or are registered in courses that will complete the requirements for an award, they will be included in the list of pending graduates. Students who wish to extend their studies under AR 3.4 should seek the required approval.
12.2 Graduation Grade Average (GGA)

The classification of awards is based on students’ GGAs. The GGA is based on the CGA calculated at the end of the term for which the student is placed on the list of pending graduates.

Students may request that graded courses included in the calculation of the graduation CGA are excluded from this calculation to improve their GGA. Exclusion of graded courses is subject to the following conditions:
i. No course required for the award of the student’s degree may be excluded
ii. No more than 9 credits may be excluded

In computing the GGA, courses taken in the first year of study of a three-year degree are given a half-weight. Students who enter the University with credit transfer of 10 credits or more are not eligible for this half-weight concession.

12.3 Classification of Awards

When the graduation list is confirmed and students’ GGAs have been calculated, the relevant Dean will be informed and requested to recommend students’ graduation and the classifications of students’ awards.

Awards are classified as follows:

First Class Honors
Second Class Honors, Division I
Second Class Honors, Division II
Third Class Honors

In classifying awards, the University takes into account:

i. Benchmark GGA bands for awards
ii. University policy for the distribution of awards

Recommendations for graduation and classification of awards are made by the relevant Dean to the Committee on Undergraduate Studies (CUS) which may confirm students’ graduation and classification on behalf of the Senate.

Where students have completed studies under more than one School, the recommendation for an award should be agreed by the Schools.



Three-year Degree Academic Regulations: Glossary of Terms

1. Academic Terms
  There are four Academic Terms in each Academic Year: Fall (normally early September to late December); Winter; Spring (normally early February to late May); and Summer (normally from early June to mid-August).
2. Academic Year
  The Academic Year begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following year.
3. Academic Program
  Majors, minors, options and other components of a student's program of study are all designated as academic programs of the University.
4. Academic Standing
  Students’ Academic Standing is an indicator of their academic progress. Poor academic progress can result in Academic Warning or Academic Probation.
5. Add/Drop Period
  At the start of each term, there is an add/drop period where students may add or drop courses without these courses appearing on their record. After the add/drop period, students may not be permitted to add or drop courses for that term.
6. Associate Student
  Associate Students are students who have completed the requirements for an undergraduate degree, but wish to register for additional undergraduate courses. They are registered under conditions set out in Academic Regulation (AR) 3.4.
7. Award
  An Award is an academic qualification granted by the University Senate on the completion of the requirements for the award.
8. Course
  Courses are the basic unit of instruction from which programs of study are built. Most courses at HKUST require study for a full term and earn 3 credit units.
9. Course-offering Department
  The course-offering department is the academic unit responsible for a course, normally a department or division.
10. Credit Transfer
  Subject to the academic regulations, credits may be transferred for work completed at an institution other than HKUST to meet requirements of a HKUST award.
11. Credit Unit
  Credit units are earned through the completion of courses and other assessed learning activities. The requirements for an award normally include completion of a minimum number of credits.
12. Cumulative Grade Average (CGA)

For each term a CGA is calculated for all the courses earning grade points completed since first registration as an undergraduate student up to that point, as follows:


Where Cj is the credit and Gj is the grade point earned in the jth course since first registration.

Courses with grades of Incomplete, Audit, Pass, Distinction or Permitted to Proceed do not count toward grade point averages.

13. Dean or the Dean’s Designate
  Where approval of the Dean is required, applications should be directed to the Office of the Associate Dean (Undergraduate), or, for programs under the Interdisciplinary Programs Office (IPO) to the Office of the Director IPO.
14. Department
  An academic department or division of the University.
15. Degrees
  The University Senate awards three types of bachelor’s degree: Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).
16. Degree Requirements
  To earn the award of a bachelor’s degree, all undergraduates must complete approved requirements.
17. Dual Degree
  Students may earn two degrees by fulfilling all the requirements of both degrees. Students who complete the requirements of two major programs, but complete the requirements of only one degree will not be awarded a dual degree.
18. Exemption
  Under certain circumstances, students may be granted an exemption from requirements for an award, or from the academic regulations.
19. First Major
  Students who have registered for more than one major program may be asked to nominate one of these majors as their first major. Graduation from an additional major may not be possible within the normal duration of study for the award.
20. Full-time Student
  All undergraduate students are registered as full-time students. Full-time students must take a full credit load in each Regular Term, unless a reduced load has been approved.
21. Grade Points
  Courses may be assessed for grade points. A table of grade points relative to letter grades is provided in the ARs. Some courses are assessed pass/fail; these courses are not assessed for grade points and do not count in the calculation of grade averages. Other grades not assigned grade points are listed in AR 7.1.
22. Graduation Grade Average (GGA)
  GGA is the student’s CGA adjusted by deleting courses from the calculation under AR 12.2 and setting a half-weight for courses completed for credit in the first year of study in a three-year degree.
23. HKUST Course Credits
  Courses are assigned credits, in most cases 3 credits. HKUST course credits are credits earned in courses included in the HKUST Course Catalog. HKUST course credits do not include credit transfer from other institutions.
24. Major Program
  To graduate with a bachelor’s degree, students must complete the requirements for at least one major. Students studying for three-year degree programs select their major on entry as part of the process for admission. The full set of major programs offered at the University is provided at “Program Catalog”. Requirements for major programs vary and students should carefully review these requirements.
25. Minor Program
  The set of minor programs offered at the University is provided at “Program Catalog”. All minors require the completion of least 18 credits in designated courses. Students should carefully review the requirements for minors. Students who wish a minor to be recorded on their transcript must register for the minor through the Minor-program Coordinator.
26. Major-program Coordinator
  A Major-program Coordinator is appointed for all majors. Contact information may be found through the office of the Department/Division that offers the major.
27. Minor-program Coordinator
  A Minor-program Coordinator is appointed for all minors. Contact information may be found through the office of the Department/Division that offers the minor.
28. Program of Study
  A student’s program of study is the set of components of an undergraduate degree for which a student is registered. Programs of study typically include School-level requirements, the University Common Core and a major. Students may add a minor or other components to their program of study.
29. Provost or the Provost’s Designate
  Where the approval of the Provost is required under the ARs, applications should be directed to the Head of Undergraduate Studies Administration of the Office of the Provost.
30. Option under a Major program
  Students registered in a major may be given the opportunity to register for an Option under their major. Students who complete an option may have this recorded on their academic transcript.
31. Registration
  For the purposes of the ARs, registration includes registration in courses and registration in academic programs, such as majors and minors.
32. Regular Term
  The Fall and Spring Terms are Regular Terms.
33. School
  Undergraduates are registered in programs under one of four Schools or the Interdisciplinary Programs Office.
34. Study Load
  Students’ study load is the total credits for which they are registered in a term.
35. Term Grade Average (TGA):

For each term a TGA is calculated across all courses taken in that term, as follows:


Where Ci is the course credits and Gi is the grade point earned in the ith course in the Term.

36. Transcript
  Students’ academic transcripts provide the full record of their academic results and performance.
37. University
  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
38. University Senate
  The HKUST University Senate is the highest academic body of the University. The University Senate regulates admissions, degree requirements and all matters relating to teaching and learning. All academic awards of the University are made by the University Senate.
39. Visiting Students
  Visiting Students register for courses, but not for programs. They are registered under conditions set out in AR 2.2.

(Information as of July 2011)