PhD (IS)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs in Information Systems (IS) is a research-oriented degree that aims to prepare students for a research and teaching career in universities, research institutes, governmental or business organizations.

The program has a technology management perspective with a focus on economic modeling and behavioral research into the management, design, use, and socio-economic impact of information technology on individuals, organizations, and societies. The PhD (IS) program is intended to be taken as the follow-up part of the MPhil (IS) program.

The PhD (IS) program does not admit directly a student from a UG program. The program only accepts students with the following qualifications:

  • Satisfactory course performance in HKUST MPhil (IS) program, letter of recommendation from faculty, etc; or

  • MPhil/Research Masters degrees equivalent to HKUST MPhil (IS) program, or

  • Bachelor's degree with excellent academic performance coming on the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS)

Program Requirements

Introductory Quantitative Requirement

Unless students have clearly demonstrated sufficient knowledge in the area, students entering the PhD program are required to take the following two mathematics-oriented courses in the first regular term of study. The credits earned from these two courses cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.

  • ECON 5100 Mathematics for Business and Economics (3 credits)
  • ISOM 5540 Introduction to Probability (3 credits)

RPg Professional Development Requirement

Students are required to complete and pass PDEV 6770 Professional Development for Research Postgraduate Students in their first 1.5 years of study. Subject to prior approval of the Department Head and PG Coordinator, part-time students may be given extension to complete this course, and HKUST MPhil(IS) graduates who have taken and passed this course before may be exempted from this requirement. The 1 credit earned from this course cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.

Course Requirement

Students are required to take at least 36 credits. Students may need to take additional courses related to their research topics, as requested by their thesis supervisors.

Students who have taken the HKUST MPhil(IS) program will be granted credits transfer to the PhD program. Students who have taken an MPhil or equivalent in other universities may be granted credits transfer on a case-by-case basis. In such a case, the maximum number of credits transferable is 24.

General Management Courses (at least 4 credits)

Course CodeCourse Title
ACCT 5100 Financial Accounting Foundations (2 credits); or
ACCT 5150 Accounting Foundations (2 credits)
FINA 5120 Corporate Finance (2 credits); or
FINA 5210 Investment Analysis (2 credits)>
ISOM 5270 Big Data Analytics(2 credit)
ISOM 5320 Electronic Commerce and Web Analytics (2 credits)
ISOM 5460 Project Management (2 credits)
ISOM 5700 Operations Management (2 credits)
MARK 5120 Marketing Strategy and Policy (2 credits)
MIMT 5010 Market Research for Business Applications (2 credits); or
MIMT 5310 Understanding Consumers: A Strategic Approach (2 credits); or
MIMT 5320 Global Marketing Management (2 credits)
MGMT 5230  Management of Organizations (2 credits); or
MIMT 5120 Strategic Management in Asia (2 credits)

Required Courses (14 credits)

Course CodeCourse Title
ECON 5130 Microeconomic Analysis (4 credits); or
ECON 5210 Microeconomic Theory I (4 credits); or
ECON 5300 Econometrics (4 credits)
ISOM 5020 Information and Technology Management (2 credits); or
ISOM 5100 Information Strategy and Management (2 credits)
ISOM 5400 Information Systems Research Methodologies (4 credits)
ISOM 5550 Statistical Methods for Business and Economics I (3 credits)
LANG 5002 Postgraduate English for Business and Social Science Studies (1 credit)

Elective Courses (at least 18 credits)

Course CodeCourse Title
ECON 5130 Microeconomic Analysis (4 credits); or
ECON 5210 Microeconomic Theory I (4 credits); or
ECON 5300 Econometrics (4 credits); or
ISOM 5530 Multivariate Data Analysis (4 credits)
ISOM 5560 Statistical Methods for Business and Economics II (3 credits)
ISOM 7000 Doctoral Seminar in IS (1-4 credits)#
MARK 5520 Experimental Design and Analysis for Behavioral Research

Other Research courses approved by the MPhil/ PhD Coordinator*

#Course can be repeated for credits.

* Students need to select postgraduate level courses offered by but not limited to the following programs: Information Systems, Management, Economics, Finance, Marketing, or Operations Management programs.


PhD Qualifying Examination

All PhD students must pass a qualifying examination.

Students admitted via the HKUST MPhil Program in Information Systems will take the qualifying examination in the Summer of the second year of MPhil study. Students who fail the qualifying examination in the first attempt can retake the examination once and must pass the examination no later than December of the first year of PhD study.

Students admitted with an equivalent research master's degree will take the qualifying examination in the Summer of the first year or the second year of PhD study. Students who fail the qualifying examination in the first attempt can retake the examination once and must pass the examination no later than December of that same year of PhD study.

Students admitted without an equivalent research master's degree will take the qualifying examination in the Summer of the second year of PhD study. Students who fail the qualifying examination in the first attempt can retake the examination once and must pass the examination no later than December of that same year of PhD study.

Research Paper Requirement

Students are required to submit a research paper by the end of Summer Term of the second year of study. Students admitted with an HKUST MPhil(IS) degree or equivalent will be exempted from the requirement.

Thesis Requirement

Registration in ISOM 7990 Doctoral Thesis Research;

Completion of a thesis under the supervision of the thesis supervision committee comprising at least two faculty members, one of whom is designated as the thesis supervisor and committee chairperson. A thesis proposal presentation will be scheduled only after the thesis supervision committee concludes that a suitable topic has been chosen and sufficient amount of preliminary work has been completed. Once the thesis proposal is approved, the student is then admitted to candidacy and can proceed to complete the thesis in accordance with the agreement; and

Presentation and oral defense of the PhD thesis.