Awards and Financial Assistance

Hong Kong PhD Fellowships

The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship (HKPF) Scheme was established by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC) in 2009. It aims at attracting the best and brightest students across the world to pursue their research degree programmes in Hong Kong. For the 2020-21 exercise, PhD Fellowships will be awarded among all institutions and the application will start in September 2019.


New applicants to full-time PhD programmes in government-funded institutions in Hong Kong, irrespective of their country of origin and ethnic background, are eligible to apply. Applicants should demonstrate outstanding academic performance, research ability/potential, communication and interpersonal skills, and leadership abilities.

The Fellowships

The HKPF provides each awardee with both a monthly scholarship and a conference and research related travel allowance per year for a period up to three years. In 2020-21, the scholarship is worth HK$25,800 and the conference and research related travel allowance HK$12,900.  For HKPF awardees who are admitted to a 4-year PhD programme, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) will provide a monthly scholarship and travel allowance at the same level as the HKPF for their fourth year of study*. 

Additional support from HKU to HKPF awardees is available, such as the following for the 2020-21 exercise: 

  • HKU guarantees HKPF awardees a hall place in their first year of study with possibility of renewal in Year 2.  
  • HKU waives first-year composition fees of HK$42,100 (~US$5,400) for HKPF awardees.  
  • The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine will also provide HKPF awardees with the Faculty’s Doctoral Entrance Award of HK$40,000 (~US$5,100) in their first year of study.

* HKPF holders in HKU have to observe the Regulations Governing Postgraduate Scholarships.


Applicants need to submit one initial application to the RGC (only with basic information such as their names, the two chosen programmes / institutions, place of birth, etc.) through the RGC’s on-line system, and each of the applications will be allocated a reference number. The deadline for submitting an initial application to RGC is December 2, 2019 at Hong Kong Time noon (GMT +8 hours)Please click here for RGC on-line initial application.

Applicants who have chosen HKU in their initial applications should submit an on-line application form and upload soft copies of supporting documents via the HKU application system to complete the application to HKU. They are required to indicate that they are applying for the HKPF and quote the reference number assigned to them by the RGC. They should also make sure that their application materials do not contain any plagiarised materials, particularly the research proposal & research experience and vision statements, which are expected to be an original piece of work written by the applicant.  The deadline for submitting an application to HKU is December 2, 2019Please click here to HKU Online Application System.

[For applicants of the Joint Programmes between HKU and King's College London/The University of Toronto:

The RGC has announced that UGC-funded full-time Dual/Joint PhD Programmes having at least two years of normative study period spent in local universities would be included in the HKPF Scheme with effect from the 2019/20 intake. However, the RGC would only provide monthly fellowship as well as conference and research-related travel allowance to HKPF awardees enrolled in the Dual/Joint PhD programmes during their study period spent in Hong Kong.] 

Please click here for further details of the HK PhD Fellowship Scheme.

Applicants who have applied for the HKPF will be automatically considered for the award of University Postgraduate Fellowship (UPF) mentioned in the following section. Nevertheless, applicants who have successfully been selected for the award of HKPF will not concurrently be awarded the UPF and Postgraduate Scholarship offered by the University.

University Postgraduate Fellowships

The University Postgraduate Fellowship (UPF) Scheme aims to attract top students worldwide and is available for selected new full-time PhD candidates with excellent academic performances. The fellowship, at a total value of HK$70,000 on top of the Postgraduate Scholarships, is payable in instalments at the beginning of each year of study. Applicants in their final year of undergraduate study may also apply for the UPF. The deadline for application is December 2, 2019.

There is no separate on-line application form for UPF. Applicants who have applied for the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship will be automatically considered for the award of UPF.

Postgraduate Scholarships

The purpose of Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS) is to provide selected students with financial assistance in the form of a scholarship to study full-time for the degrees of MPhil or PhD during the prescribed periods of study. The annual value of the Scholarships will be determined by the University from time to time. The basic level of scholarship is HK$17,330 per month (w.e.f. September 1, 2019).

Full-time MPhil and PhD students who hold a first degree at second class honours first division (or equivalent) or above are normally considered eligible for receiving Postgraduate Scholarships during the normative study period. The University’s Board of Graduate Studies, which has sole and absolute discretion in granting the award of the Postgraduate Scholarships, may also take into consideration the candidates’ results in Master’s degrees. Scholarships are tenable on an annual basis and are renewable upon satisfactory academic progress having been made and the availability of funding.

A Postgraduate Scholarship holder may be required to provide, under supervision, services that carry educational and research benefits for the holder, as prescribed by the Head of the Department, Unit, Centre, School or Institute in which the holder is registered. The provision of services forms part of the research student’s training covered by the value of the Scholarship, and no other payment for these hours of services may be made to a Scholarship holder. The holder should not otherwise undertake any employment either within or outside the University during tenure of the Scholarship. The amount of such services shall not exceed 100 hours in any full twelve-month period (or pro rata if the period is less than twelve months) and the nature of the services will normally be assistance with:

(a) research;
(b) scheduled laboratory, studio and fieldwork classes and with tutorials;
(c) the preparation of materials for scheduled classes;
(d) marking practical notebooks and answers from exercise classes; and
(e) invigilation of University degree examinations.

Please click here for the Postgraduate Scholarship regulations.

Tuition Waiver Scheme for Local Research Postgraduate (RPg) Students

The University Grants Committee (UGC) provides a non-means-tested ‘Tuition Waiver Scheme’ (‘The Scheme’) for all current and new local students enrolled in full-time UGC-funded Research Postgraduate (RPg) programmes of any disciplines in local institutions, to cover their composition fees with effect from July 1, 2018.  Eligible students do not need to apply for the Scheme.

For more information, please refer to the UGC website.

Academic Awards

The University administers a number of scholarships that are awarded to postgraduate students for outstanding academic achievements. Applications for postgraduate scholarships will be invited from eligible students at various times throughout the year, and invitations for applications will be posted around the campus to notify students when such opportunities arise. The scholarships and awards include Doris Zimmern HKU-Cambridge Hughes Hall Scholarships, HKSAR Government Scholarships, Li Ka Shing Prizes, Award for Outstanding Research Postgraduate Student and The Croucher Foundation Awards, to name just a few.

Financial Support for Conference Attendance and Travel

MPhil and PhD students may apply for financial support for conference attendance and/or travel for presenting papers/posters in overseas academic conferences or participating in other overseas educational activities.


Full-time non-local research postgraduate students who register on July 1, 2019 and thereafter are guaranteed a hall place in their first year of study.

Government Grants and Loans

Students admitted to a UGC-funded full-time curriculum who need financial assistance for their studies at the University may apply to the means-tested loans and grants scheme administered by the Student Financial Assistance Agency. To qualify for the assistance, a student must have the right of abode in Hong Kong or have resided in Hong Kong continuously for three years prior to admission to the University. (Note that students staying in Hong Kong holding student visas do not count as being ‘continuously resident'.) The value of their Postgraduate Scholarships will be counted as their income under this scheme. To apply for such assistance, students should:

(a) obtain an application form from the Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS), or the Student Financial Assistance Agency, 11/F & 12/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon (; and

(b) submit the completed form to CEDARS within one month following the commencement of the course.

A non-means tested loan scheme is also available for application by both full-time and part-time students who meet the residency requirements. Application forms are also obtainable at CEDARS.

University Financial Assistance

University funds are in general used to supplement government grants and loans. A limited number of means-tested bursaries and loans are available to local full-time students who are in financial need. However, these are of very limited value, and should not be seen as an alternative to Government support. The value of students’ Postgraduate Scholarships will also be counted in the assessment of their needs. Applications are invited in early September each year. Students facing urgent financial hardship may however apply for emergency assistance any time during the year. For enquiries, please contact the Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS: