MBA at HKUST Business School – All you need to know as an applicant

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong consists of five schools which are Business & Management, Sciences, Humanities & Social Science, Engineering, and the HKUST Fok Ying Tung Graduate School

HKUST Business School is ranked in the top 10 b-schools in the world since 2010 and The School of Business and Management has one of the largest undergraduate exchange programs in Asia, with more than 110 partner schools worldwide.

The Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA program, jointly organized with Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, was ranked number 1 in the world. According to the ranking, the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA graduates’ average salary of three years after graduation reached US$465,774 per annum, an increase of 42% comparing with their average pre-EMBA salary. The average salary is the highest among the 100 EMBA programs surveyed.

HKUST Business School

HKUST consistently ranks among the top b-schools in the world since 2001

We have been getting a lot of questions from prospective students for the coming batch. In an interview with,  Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST, talks about the program, its benefits and is kind enough to solve all our queries.

 1.       Ritu: One of the most important aspects of HKUST’s vision is:

‘Advance the frontiers of global business knowledge within a China context’

 How does a China focused education program help the vastly international student community at HKUST to seek global careers across geographies?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: Asia Pacific accounts for 55% of the global GDP, China contributes a significant part of it.  This market is full of opportunities for business expansion which no multinational corporations can ignore. Understanding the Asian markets including China, hence, is crucial to lead a successful global career path.


While HKUST MBA program offers a selection of Asia and China focus courses, over 90% of the full-time classes are non-locals from more than 25 countries. Students can benefit from the high quality discussions among peers who share diverse cultural perspectives.


Students are also sponsored to participate in global case and business competitions, allowing them to test their mettle in an international environment. Field trips to various countries such as China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, India and Saudi Arabia organized by the school and student clubs offer unique opportunities to explore the realities and challenges of global businesses in Asia.


Graduates from HKUST MBA often find themselves more adaptable to an international working environment than they were pre-MBA while they also build an edge with Asian business knowledge to bridge the east and the west.


2.       Ritu: What are the main highlights of student life and learning culture at HKUST? How does life at campus help in creating a global learning environment for HKUST’s widely international student community?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: HKUST MBA students are typically good team players who appreciate diversity and have a flexible mindset to deal with differences of others. They are also proactive and willing to contribute by bringing in their networks and knowledge, and organizing activities which benefit the class. Students are usually adventurous, open to new challenges and aspire to become a future business leader.


A typical day starts with classes in the morning until lunch, then group work or assignments for courses in the afternoon and finally career, student club and social activities in the evening. Since we are packing what a 2-year MBA program is into 12 or 16 months, the MBA life is quite intensive throughout the year. Students are expected to have good time management skills to handle their studies, career pursuits and personal life well.


As mentioned, over 90% of the class is non-locals coming from more than 25 countries. Students gain immediate insights into the cultural issues at work in the global economy, and benefit from understanding gained through tackling real-world business problems in close-knit cross-cultural teams.Lectures comprise only 30% of course delivery, with the remainder taken up by discussions, seminars, case analysis, simulation, individual and group projects, and presentations. These modes stimulate exchange of cultural perspectives and maximize the use of case-based interactive learning, using real-life business cases from within Greater China and the rest of the world.


  • 3.       Ritu: HKUST offers both the options to live on or off campus to its students, as opposed to the fully residential program structure. Is there a difference in terms of benefits, financial assistance and access to various facilities available on campus for the students who choose to live off-campus?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: There is no difference in terms of benefits, financial assistance or access to facilities between students living on- campus or those living off-campus.  Living on-campus would, however, offer students more opportunities to gather among their peers and enjoy the campus life.  Students usually choose to live on-campus for the first half of the year and look for off-campus accommodation in down town for the second half to enjoy the city life.


As only single-occupancy room is available on-campus, students with families will need to seek accommodation option off-campus.


  • 4.       Ritu: How much weight is provided to each of the steps of admission process? How students can prepare themselves to increase their chances for admission at HKUST?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: Applicants will need to submit online application with completed essays and three work references.  Only shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview. It is hard to give a fixed weight on each of the admission processes as we evaluate candidates based on their whole academic & professional profile as well as interaction during the interview.


Overall, HKUST focuses on three admission philosophies:

  • Contribution

We believe that the most valuable learning from MBA is the interaction and experience sharing among peers. Therefore, we look for high-quality candidates from a diversity of backgrounds who can provide a broad spectrum of valuable experience to the class with selfless contribution.


  • Matching with career goal

MBA is a big investment in terms of time, money and other opportunity costs. We would like to help students achieve their goals which drive them to apply.  Our admissions consideration covers both how your specific needs would be met by what we offer and how you would benefit from our experimental learning approach.


  • Leadership Potential

We are looking for outstanding candidates with leadership potential who have the capacity to make lasting contributions to the region or industry in which they are working. Our students are dynamic and talent individuals who balance an ethical, responsible approach to business with the ability to move ever forward in their pursuit of success, contributing to both their professions and the community at large.


Applicants would do well to show that they have done in-depth research on their career plans, e.g. what companies they are interested in and what skills/network they need to get their target jobs. Since ours is a comparatively short program, we want students to come with a good idea of what they want to do so that they can leverage on the training and network the program offers from day one.

5.       Ritu: HKUST organizes many admission events throughout the year to help the prospective students. Does attending these events play any major part in the selection process? How can the global students, who can’t travel to attend these events for some reason, be benefitted from these events?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: No, those events were organized to provide prospective candidates opportunities to better understand HKUST MBA program. Our staff, current students or alumni who were present at the events can address candidates’ enquiries more directly. However, whether attending these events or not will not affect our selection decision.


For candidates who meet our basic admissions requirement but cannot attend those events for any reason, phone consultation appointment can be arranged. Candidates can register online via our website.


  • 6.       Ritu: The class profile of HKUST shows only 36% female students. How does HKUST look at gender diversity in its class profile? Are there any plans or measures being taken to enhance the gender diversity of its class?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: The female ratio in a typical MBA class is generally low and 36% is quite a high percentage for MBA. If you look at the percentage of female students among the world’s top 10 MBAs in Financial Times, the female ratio can be as low as 20%.  In general, HKUST values diversity in terms of various aspects especially on academic and professional background. Students from our full-time class are coming from a highly diverse background across different industries. There is no plan to change the current gender ratio for HKUST MBA class.


  • 7.       Ritu: Average years of work experience at HKUST are 6 years with an average age of 30 years. How does HKUST look at candidates with extensive work experience (9+ years)?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: Extensive work experience does not only count on the years of work experience but more importantly, the quality and substance of the work experience which HKUST values.


Besides, we evaluate how well the program can help students to achieve their goals for taking an MBA. For example, a candidate with over 10 years of work experience have an unrealistic goal, he or she might still not be a right candidate for us.


  • 8.       Ritu: Also, how does HKUST look at younger candidates with lesser work experience? Are they at any disadvantage for admissions or during program?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: Much of the learning from an MBA is from the discussion among classmates. Work experience, hence, provides students the substance to participate in the discussion. At the same time, students can also relate what they have learnt from the class to their work situation. That is why HKUST requires at least 2 years of full-time work experience after the first degree for admissions. Students in our full-time class have 6 years of work experience on average. 4-6 years of work experience is the golden time for taking an MBA.


HKUST emphasizes more on the quality of the work experience instead of just the length of work experience. If a candidate has very rich experience during his/her relatively shorter period of work experience and he or she can demonstrate a strong leadership potential, that candidate can still be a competitive candidate.


9.       Ritu: HKUST provides many financial aids and merit-based scholarships to its students. International students often face many hassles for their foreign education loans process, especially in countries like India. Does HKUST provide any assistance with the loan process for international students, especially since HKUST’s program fees is one of the premium?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: We offer various kinds of scholarships for international candidates like below:

  • Asians with international exposure
  • Candidates with extensive global experience
  • Non-Asians with Asia exposure or language proficiency in Chinese or an Asian language


The loan available for international students in Hong Kong is still very limited. It is encouraged that students look for loan options in their home countries. HKUST will provide admitted students support to facilitate their loan application process if necessary but we will not act as guarantee for the loan students apply.


  • 10.   Ritu: HKUST offers a wide range of Elective Courses for ‘Entrepreneurship and Family Business’. How the program at HKUST does foster the culture and initiatives for encouraging entrepreneurship in addition to these elective courses? Is there any support – in terms of financial, incubation or other advisory support – provided for the students who want to explore entrepreneurship as career option?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: HKUST encourages students to turn their business ideas into more practical plans. Full-time students are sponsored to global case or business plan competitions around the world.  Before joining those competitions, students are required to take the elective, “enhancing professional skills”, delivered by a team of leading faculty with expertise in consulting, marketing, finance & management. The course aims at boosting students’ necessary business skills. Topics include effective executive summaries writing, persuasive elevator pitches, logical presentation of marketing & financial data, impact design and delivery. Faculty will also act as advisor for student teams during the competition stage.


Enrichment activities like entrepreneurship competitions, conference and talks have been initiated. Students have also set up entrepreneurship club among themselves to facilitate relevant networking.


  • 11.   Ritu: HKUST presents a very robust international student exchange program and every student of full-time MBA can take part in these exchange programs. Does HKUST also help the students to secure global career options during these exchange programs?


Marketing & Admissions team of HKUST MBA Office Answers: HKUST focuses on equipping students with necessary soft skills and global perspectives for a career development in long term.  We continue to provide career services while they are away for exchange. Some of our exchange partners also open careers services to our students.

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About Ritu Jhajharia

Ritu has completed her PGDM in Communication Management with a super specialization in Brand Management from MICA. She is currently working as an independent Communications Consultant. She is an aspiring writer, is writing her first novel which she hopes to get published someday.

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