Program Details


Program Requirements

MA students must take eight courses (24 credits) and obtain a graduation grade average (GGA) of 2.850 or above as required of all postgraduate students at the University. Of the eight courses, students are required to take two foundation courses (6 credits), four required courses (12 credits), and two elective courses (6 credits).


With effect from Fall 2022, students may choose to graduate with the Psychology Concentration designation by completing at least three of these required courses (9 credits): MASS 5980, MASS 5981, MASS 5982, and MASS 5983.  Students can choose to graduate with or without concentration.


A. Foundation Courses

MASS 5010 Research Methods in Social Science

This is an introduction to research methodology in the social science. It is intended to provide foundational training in the major approaches in the social sciences to the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, and the specification and testing of theories. The course overs the logic of scientific inquiry and various research techniques such as experimentation, scientific sampling, survey research, field methods, archival data, and quantitative analysis that are commonly used by researchers in economics, education, political science, psychology, and sociology.

MASS 5020 Social Statistics I

This course teaches basic concepts and skills required to conduct quantitative research in social science. Students will learn to design and conduct statistical analyses to test hypotheses. They will acquire experience in the use of statistical software to carry out analysis of social data.


B. Required Courses

Designed specifically for the MA students, the required MASS courses cover disciplines in sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. Students are required to take courses from one or more of these disciplines. For every semester, the Programs Office will announce a list of courses to be offered by the Division.


MASS 5030 Social Stratification and Mobility

This course introduces the concepts and theories in analyzing the pattern of social and economic inequalities in the distribution of resources/rewards/opportunities which are scarce but widely desired, and the process of status attainment or social mobility.

MASS 5050 Economic Transformations in Post-Mao China

This course offers a comprehensive account of the transformations in the economic institution of China since the late 1970s.

MASS 5060 Political Changes and Political Participation

This course introduces to students basic theories about political changes, such as democratization and reform, or their absence. It also discusses the dynamics of such political changes by examining the interactions among different social forces and political actors, including citizens.

MASS 5180 Migration and Globalization

This course aims to explore the interrelationship between population changes/ migration and economic development in the era of globalization. Special attention is given to labor migration in China and international migration in China/HKSAR.

MASS 5200 Comparative Politics

This is a comparative politics course targeting toward advanced postgraduate students. With its long history, comparative politics has covered many different topics. The course will focus on important substantive questions to understand political phenomena around the world. The course consists of five broad and complex topics related to politics: i) basic logic and methodologies in comparative politics; ii) state formation and regime types; iii) election and government system; iv) policy-related issues including economic development and redistribution; and v) challenges in comparative political economy including poverty, foreign aid, natural resources, civil war and political connection/corruption.

MASS 5210 Economic Development

This course examines the economic situations of low and middle-income economies, considering many important topics in the field of development economics. It addresses questions such as what factors help explain why some countries are rich and others poor and whether economic policies can affect these factors. We will study key aspects of life for poor households in the developing world, such as inequality, gender and the intra-household division of resources, education, health, savings and credit, institutions and globalization. Students will also study recent research in the field and examine empirical evidence on these topics.

MASS 5240 Topics in Gender and Society

A sociologically informed discussion about the role that gender plays in the organization of social life, including education, work and employment, the global economy, technology and innovation, media, family life and international relations.

MASS 5250 The Rise and Fall of Democracy

This course examines various approaches to study the rise and fall of democracy in disciplines of political economy, political science, political sociology, and historical sociology. It pays special attention to specific historical or political context in which democratization or collapse of democracy occurred. This course also encourages the students to integrate normative understanding of democracy with positivist studies of democracy.

MASS 5980 Understanding Personality*

This course provides an overview of theories of personality and examines how personality develops through different perspectives.

MASS 5981 Environment and Human Behavior*

This course examines the interactions between humans and physical environments from a psychological perspective. It discusses how human behavior is affected by, and affects, their natural and built surroundings. It also explores the human dimension of environmental issues.

MASS 5982 Social Cognition*

This course introduces a psychological perspective in understanding human behavior. It evaluates how psychological research is conducted, and covers major psychological concepts and theories.

MASS 5983 Psychology of Well-being*

This course examines the psychology of well-being in the Chinese context. Students will be engaged in a series of challenges designed to enhance their understanding of well-being, to increase their happiness, and to bring about positive changes in their lives.

Note. Course offering is subject to change. 

*Courses for Psychology Concentration


C. Elective Courses

Students can take any postgraduate courses (and a maximum of one undergraduate course at 4000-level) offered by the School of Humanities and Social Science.

Should students wish to take courses other than those specified above, prior approval must be obtained from the Academic Director.


Program Duration

The MA program can normally be completed in 12 months in full-time mode, or 24 months in part-time mode.  Full-time students are required to take a minimum of 9 credits of coursework each regular term, whereas part-time students are required to take a minimum of 3 credits each regular term.  With the approval of the Academic Director, a student may take study leave for no more than one regular term.


Academic Advising

Upon entering the program, students’ progress will be monitored by the Academic Director of the Program.



Students in this program will need to make their own accommodation arrangements during the period of study at HKUST.  The Off-Campus Housing Section (OCHS) of Student Housing and Residential Life (SHRL) Office provides information about off-campus accommodation.  For details, please click here.


Division of Social Science

For details about the Division, please click here.