Department of Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Doctor of Philosophy in Economics

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Department Highlights


Highly Ranked Globally
The Chinese University of Hong Kong ranks 46th in the world in the field of Economics and Econometrics (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017).


Distinguished Alumni
Over the last few decades, the CUHK Department of Economics has nurtured many distinguished alumni, who have contributed in different sectors of the community. Some of them have become professors in prestigious universities. Others have become well-known businessmen and government officials, for
example, Mr. Vincent Cheng, the first Chinese Chairman of HSBC, and Mr. Kwok Kwok Chuen, former Government Economist at HKSAR Government.


Research Excellence
The Department of Economics is renowned for its strength in research in the Chinese economy, economic theory and labour economics. It is also the only economics department in Hong Kong with two Nobel Laureates among its staff.



Guaranteed Assistantship

All successful full-time Ph.D. applicants will be offered teaching assistantships. Assistantship holders are required to assist in teaching or research work. In recent years, the monthly stipend is about HK$16,270.


Path from M.Phil.
The M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes are articulated, which means that subject to the approval of the Division upon student's request, the student can transfer from the M.Phil. programme into the Ph.D. programme.



Programme Features

More information on the programme can be found in the programme brochure.


2018/19 Admissions

Applicants should submit applications through the online admission system from September 2017.



  • 1st Dec, 2017


Qualification for Admissions

Applicants shall

  1. have a Master’s degree from a recognized university; or
    have graduated from a recognized university and obtained a Bachelor's degree, normally with honours not lower than Second Class or with an average grade of not lower than “B”;
  2. fulfill the English Language Proficiency Requirement as stipulated by the Graduate School before being considered for admission. To satisfy this requirement, applicants should
      1. obtain a degree from a university in Hong Kong or taken a degree programme of which the medium of instruction was English (If the degree is not awarded by the universities in Hong Kong, applicants please provide an official document to show the medium of instruction. The CUHK Graduate School may also request applicants to provide additional supporting documents to prove their English proficiency); or
      2. submit one of the following ORIGINAL score reports/ certificates for assessment:
        • TOEFL* (normally not lower than 550 paper-based; and 79 internet-based) [Institution code: 0812; departmental code: 84];
        • IELTS* (Academic) (normally not lower than Band 6.5);
        • GMAT (Verbal, normally not lower than 21) [GMAT code: R9H-T1-55]

    * TOEFL and IELTS are considered valid for two years from the test date. GMAT is considered valid for five years from the test date.

    Additional requirement for Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme applicants:

    * As requested by Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC), applicants with qualifications from non-English speaking countries are required to provide the English test result of either TOEFL or IELTS for RGC’s consideration.


    1. possess a pass grade in English in one of the following examinations:
      • Hong Kong Advanced Level Exam (AS Level);
      • Hong Kong Higher Level Exam;
      • CUHK Matriculation Exam;
      • General Certificate of Education Examination (GCE) Advanced Level (A-Level)/ Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS-Level); or
    2. achieve Level 4 or above in the English Language subject of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination; or
    3. obtain a recognized professional qualification, provided that the examination was conducted in English; or


  3. provide favourable recommendations from academic referees;
  4. submit the ORIGINAL GRE General Test score report [Institution code: 3153; departmental code: 1801];
    No specific requirement for GRE scores. Those without the GRE score may still be considered, but they will be at a disadvantage. GMAT score report could not be used to replace the submission of GRE score report);
  5. furnish proof of their research capability in the form of a research proposal of about five pages (Special consideration will be given to applicants' academic publications).



Additional Information


  1. should possess a Master's degree in Economics or related disciplines, and with a good background in Mathematics or Statistics (Those with a Bachelor's degree can also apply, but HAVE TO demonstrate excellent research potential);
  2. are normally interviewed in person.


Supporting Documents Required

Applicants should submit, by post or in person before the application deadline, the following supporting documents, together with a photocopy of the completed application form. Please quote on the submission the “Application No.” generated for the application.

Address: Room 928, Esther Lee Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Attn.: PhD in Economics)

  1. Official Transcripts from the University attended by the applicant*;
  2. A copy of Degree Certificates (if applicable);
  3. Original score report showing the applicant has fulfilled the Graduate School's English Language Proficiency Requirement (if applicable)^;
  4. Confidential Recommendations from two referees#;
  5. Application Fee Receipt (not necessary for credit card payment through online application);
  6. A copy of Identity Card or Passport;
  7. Original GRE score report;
  8. A research proposal of about five pages.

For non-CUHK qualifications: Photocopies will not be accepted. The original official transcript must reach our office directly from the University, or in sealed envelopes and send by the applicants with other supporting documents to our office.

For CUHK qualifications (Bachelor’s or higher degrees): Photocopies of official transcript issued by CUHK are accepted.

For TOEFL/GMAT/IELTS, applicants must request the test organization to send the official score report directly to the Graduate School. Student copy of score report will NOT be accepted.

Hard copy of Confidential Recommendations must reach our office directly from the referees, or in sealed envelopes and send by the applicant with other supporting documents to our office before the application deadline. The referees can also choose to submit the Confidential Recommendations via internet.

Please visit the admission section of the Graduate School website for further information on general qualifications for admission, application periods, application procedures et cetera.




Duration of study

The usual period of completion is 3 years for full-time students who possess an M.Phil. degree. As for students who do not possess an M.Phil. degree, the normative study period is 4 years.



The "candidacy requirement" composes of three major parts, namely, coursework requirement, candidacy examination, and thesis proposal (and oral defence). Students must complete and fulfill all three parts within the "maximum period for fulfilling candidacy requirements". Details of the requirement are listed below:

I. Coursework Requirement

a. Lecture courses

Students are required to complete a minimum of 21 units of courses for graduation.

i. Required courses
First Year of Attendance 12 units
 ECON5011, 5021, 5101 and 5121
ii. Elective courses
First Year of Attendance 9 units
ECON5110, 5130, 5140, 5150, 5160, 5170, 5310, 5410, 5420, 5430, 5440, 5450, 5460, 5470, 5480, 5490, 6010, 6320, 6810, 6820 and 6830  
Subject to the approval of the Division Head, up to 3 units of these 9 units can be taken from the Economics undergraduate courses or other related courses at the University.  

For students who possess research Master degrees, the minimum number of units is 15 units, including 12 units of required courses, and 3 units of elective course.

For students who do not possess research Master degrees, the minimum number of units is 21 units, including 12 units of required courses, and 9 units of elective courses.

b. Thesis research courses

Each student must register for the following Thesis research course every term.

  • Full-time students: ECON8006
  • Part-time and continuing students: ECON8003

II. Candidacy Examination

Advancement to Ph.D. candidature is conditional upon the passing of a Qualifying Examination. The examination consists of Microeconomic Theory and Macroeconomic Theory. The examination will be arranged one to two times every year. Students can have two attempts. If a student fails in the first attempt, he/she may try the second time within three months. Students who fail in both attempts will be discontinued from study upon consideration of the Graduate Panel.


III. Thesis Proposal and Oral Defence

Within half year after passing the qualifying examination, the student must submit a thesis proposal and pass an oral defence of the proposal.


IV. Other Requirement

GPA Requirement: Apart from achieving the minimum grade C- for each individual course in order to graduate, Ph.D. students are also required to achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-) every year throughout the entire period of study. Students failing this may be put on academic probation or even discontinued from study or transferred to the M.Phil. stream upon consideration of the Graduate Panel. Please refer to Clause 13.0 “Unsatisfactory Performance and Discontinuation of Studies” of the General Regulations Governing Postgraduate Studies which can be accessed from the Graduate School Homepage: on details of academic probation.


V. Remarks

Students in the full-time and part-time Ph.D. programmes attend the same classes scheduled on weekdays during day time, and they have to fulfill the same requirements, except that part-time students enroll in fewer courses each term and take a longer time to finish.



I. Course Requirement

Each student must register for Thesis research course every term.

Full-time students: ECON8012
Part-time students: ECON8006
Continuing students: ECON8003

II. Other Requirements

a. Students are required to present a pre-graduation seminar on his/her research during his/her planned year of graduation. The seminar is open to the public.

b. To attend seminars organized by the Department of Economics.

c. Students must fulfill the Term Assessment Requirement of the Graduate School. For details, please refer to Clause 13.0 "Unsatisfactory Performance and Discontinuation of Studies" of the General Regulations Governing Postgraduate Studies which can be accessed from the Graduate School Homepage.

d. Complete an Improving Postgraduate Learning (IPL) module on "Observing Intellectual Property and Copyright Law during Research" offered by the Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research. This will be an online module and relevant information can be accessed from the website:

e. Complete the Research Ethics Training (RET) module on “Publication Ethics” offered by the Office of Research and Knowledge Transfer Services (ORKTS). This will be an online module and relevant information can be accessed from the website:

Job placement highlights


  • Capital University of Economics and Business
  • East China Normal University
  • Hunan University
  • Jinan University
  • Nankai University
  • National University of Singapore
  • Renmin University of China
  • Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
  • Shanghai University of International Business and Economics
  • Sichuan University
  • Sun Yat-Sen University
  • Tsinghua University
  • University of Macau
  • Wuhan University
  • Zhejiang University
  • Zhongnan University of Economics and Law



The department organizes various events throughout the year, ranging from academic seminars and conferences to student events.



The Department of Economics has dedicated computer laboratory for students' use. Students can also take advantage of the computer rooms, library terminals and Wi-Fi access available throughout campus. More information can be found on this map.


Full-time research postgraduate students can apply for on-campus accommodation from the Postgraduate Halls (PGH). As demand is greater than the total number of hostel spaces, hall accommodation is not guaranteed. Please visit the PGH website at for up-to-date information, including hostel fees, application period and procedures.


Other information on university facilities and services can be found in the Campus Support section of the Graduate School website.

Contact Us


Tel:   (852) 3943-8191
Fax:  (852) 2603-5805

Room 928, Esther Lee Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Attn.: PhD in Economics)