Research Postgraduate Admissions

University of Toronto (UofT) and HKU Joint PhD Programme


The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
The Faculty of Medicine at UofT is a national and international powerhouse in research and education, demonstrating unprecedented size and impact. The Faculty of Medicine focuses its research on the following research themes:

  • Bio-Engineering
  • Cardiovascular
  • Education/Knowledge Translation
  • Health Services/Policy
  • Metabolism/Nutrition
  • Neurosciences/Brain Health
  • Population/Global Health
  • Imaging
  • Cancer
  • Computational Biology
  • Development/Child & Maternal Health
  • Genetics/Genomics/Proteomics
  • Infection/Immunology/Inflammation
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Drug Development/Toxicology
  • Regenerative Medicine

The University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine is one of the top medical schools in Asia. With an emphasis on collaborative and multi-disciplinary research, the Faculty concentrates its efforts in the following strategic research themes:

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cancer
  • Development and Reproduction
  • Genomics
  • Drug
  • Heart, Brain, Hormone and Healthy Aging
  • Infection and Immunology
  • Public Health
  • Nano-biotechnology
  • Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

1. Research Areas [Corresponding to point 1 of the Addendum]
Students may pursue research in any of the participating strategic research themes offered by UofT and HKU, or any other interdisciplinary project relating to one of these themes, which may involve other faculties. In particular, some Faculty members at HKU have identified counterparts at UofT with complementary research strengths for joint supervision of PhD students. Some of them have already established research collaborations while others have close academic connections. A list of intending supervisors with their research interests/topics are available at the following link. The list will be expanded upon approval from the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee (FHDC) and the Board of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of HKU and the corresponding approval authorities/committees of UofT.

List of intending supervisors with their research interests/topics

2. Student Recruitment [Corresponding to point 3 of the Addendum]
Academic staff members of both parties who are eligible to be a principal supervisor of PhD candidates in accordance with the regulations of the respective institutions may identify high caliber students for the joint PhD programme. It is expected that applicants should possess excellent academic qualification (e.g. Bachelor’s degree with 2.1 or first-class honours/and normally a Master’s degree with high standing from a reputable university). Applicants’ research experience will also be taken into consideration.

3. Application Procedure [Corresponding to point 5 of the Addendum]
Applicants should submit a PhD application following the format stipulated by the lead institution, together with following supporting documents:

  • A research proposal;
  • A statement on the applicant’s aspiration/vision for studying the joint PhD programme;
  • A CV detailing the applicants’ academic qualifications, working experience,publications, professional qualifications, prizes and awards, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and community services.
  • A letter of support from the HKU & UofT supervisors, a plan on how they will jointly contribute to the supervision of the candidate and which parts of the proposed PhD project will be conducted at the lead/collaborator institution;
  • A research plan detailing the study period and dates to be spent at each institution and research training arrangements;
  • Certificates/transcripts of the applicant’s Bachelor’s and Master’s degree qualifications;
  • Evidence of meeting the English language proficiency criteria stipulated by UofT and HKU; and
  • Reference letters from two referees who are able to comment on the applicant’s academic and research capabilities.

Applications will be considered through the normal admission process at HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and UofT. For admission to the Joint PhD programme, the Joint PhD Committee must approve all candidates. No offer may be made without the Committee’s approval.

The annual intake will be small initially. Up to 5 students from each institution may be admitted under the joint PhD programme each year. In subsequent years, flexibility may be allowed if more than 5 candidates are deemed to be of outstanding merit for admission to the joint PhD programme, but the overall number may not be more than 10 from each institution as a whole.

4. Support from Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine [Corresponding to point 15 of the Addendum]
Similar to the existing Research Postgraduate Exchange Scheme of the HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty will provide a subsistence allowance of HK$5000 per month, in addition to the usual postgraduate scholarships, for students with HKU being their lead institution during the period while they are conducting research at UofT Faculty of Medicine up to a maximum of 24 months.

Apart from the travel insurance programme arranged by HKU covering students with HKU being their lead institution for overseas exchange up to a maximum of 180 days, the HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine will provide an additional travel insurance policy for students undertaking research exchange at UofT for the remaining period.

5. Student Governance [Corresponding to point 10 of the Addendum]
Students should comply with the rules and regulations of the lead and collaborator institutions in all areas of the candidature and as laid out in the MOU and Addendum on joint PhD programme signed between HKU and UofT on November 8, 2011. Students should comply with the rules and regulations of the lead institution in all areas not specified by this document or the above mentioned agreement.

6. Probation and Progress Monitoring
Students with HKU being their lead institution are subject to a probationary period and are required to submit progress reports bi-annually in accordance with the HKU Regulations for the Degree of PhD. The candidates’ probationary report and bi-annual progress reports should be endorsed by both the HKU and UofT supervisors. The bi-annual supervision report should be completed by the HKU supervisor and counter-signed by the UofT supervisor.

Students with UofT being their lead institution are subject to the UofT regulations for monitoring and assessment of students’ progress.

7. Coursework
Students with HKU being their lead institution are required to complete the required Graduate School Core Courses and Faculty Research Postgraduate Courses in accordance with the HKU Regulations for the Degree of PhD. Where requirements at both institutions overlap, the Joint PhD Committee will recommend to the Graduate Schools at HKU and UofT that students can fulfill the above requirements by attending courses at just one of the institutions.

8. Thesis Examination [Corresponding to point 7 of the Addendum]
Each student in the joint degree programme shall submit a single thesis to both UofT and HKU simultaneously. The PhD thesis will be examined by a joint PhD Exam Panel of three members, one nominated by each by UofT and HKU, and an external referee nominated by the Joint PhD Committee, and approved in accordance with the lead institution’s usual PhD practices. The Assessment of each student’s PhD thesis will include an oral examination, which should be conducted with tele-/ video-conference between UofT and HKU.

The examination result recommended by the Joint PhD Exam Panel should be submitted to the relevant committees at both institutions for approval. The degree can only be conferred if the graduation requirements of both institutions have been fulfilled and with the endorsement of the Joint PhD Committee. Each student will be awarded a single doctoral degree from the lead institution with both the parchment and transcript. The transcript will have a note on it stating that “the degree is awarded as a single degree under a Joint Placement arrangement with the [collaborator institution]”.

9. Transfer from joint PhD programme to conventional single PhD degree programme
Students are allowed to apply for transfer from the joint PhD programme to the conventional single PhD degree programme due to problems arising during the study or any other reasons as specified by the students. Students may choose to transfer to the conventional single PhD degree programme offered by HKU or UofT with the approval of both institutions.

10. Research equipment and supplies
The medical schools of HKU and UofT will provide research supplies and consumables, as well as access to library, research equipment, computer and related core facilities for students.

Should you require further information on the joint PhD programme, please send an email to medfac@hku.hk.