HKUST-Minerva Scholars Program

The HKUST-Minerva Scholars Program offers a unique learning opportunity for HKUST undergraduate students, made possible under a partnership between HKUST and the Minerva Schools at KGI.

This program is open to incoming freshmen, allowing them to take Minerva’s Cornerstone Courses, which are highly interactive discussion-based courses, during the first two years of the undergraduate program.   This program seeks academically inquisitive students who are eager to take initiative of their own learning.

Challenge Yourself

This is the program for you if you are someone who is academically curious, deeply inquisitive and independently motivated to succeed.  The HKUST-Minerva Scholars Program offers unprecedented undergraduate courses that combine courses focused on the science of learning, rigorous academic standards, and an advanced interactive learning platform that leverages cutting-edge technology.

The HKUST-Minerva Scholars Program comprises four cornerstone courses. Collectively, these courses focus on developing the Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts that underlie four core competencies – thinking critically, thinking creatively, communicating effectively, and interacting effectively.  Classes focus on building skills and understanding – not mere information dissemination.

Students entering this program are bright and driven, and are prepared to contribute to class discussions meaningfully.  Classes are delivered in seminars of fewer than 20 students, facilitated by accomplished faculty versed in the science of learning.

Minerva’s Active Learning Forum

All academic classes take place online via the Active Learning Forum. All of Minerva’s classes are seminars of 20 students or fewer, conducted in real-time via the platform. All seminars are face-to-face on screen— the equivalent of giving each student a front row seat.

Minerva’s Active Learning Forum platform uses the latest advances in information technology to provide an engaging class experience that is unmatched. Live, video-based seminars enhance student-to-professor and peer-to-peer interactions by ensuring that everyone is visibly engaged and actively participating.

The Active Learning Forum also facilitates numerous rapid mode changes, including moving from full group discussion to smaller breakout groups, one-on-one and team debates, collaborative document sharing and editing, as well as dynamic polling and real-time simulations. The platform’s asynchronous tools provide powerful capabilities for students and professors alike, by enabling deeper and more frequent data-rich feedback, schedule and assignment management, and searchable review of prior class footage.

There is no required physical location for attending a class as long as it is an environment with high-speed internet where you are able to follow classes attentively. You can therefore be in the student lounge, at a cafe, or the library while attending classes in real-time.

The Cornerstone courses

The HKUST-Minerva Scholars Program comprises four cornerstone courses. Collectively, these courses focus on developing the Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts that underlie four core competencies – thinking critically, thinking creatively, communicating effectively, and interacting effectively.

The Cornerstone courses (32 credits) provide the breadth and depth of knowledge that will be students’ academic foundation for the university years to follow.

1. Formal Analyses

(8 Credits)
Formal Analyses focuses on rigorous critical thinking. Students learn formal reasoning and logic, mathematical and statistical models, algorithms and introductory machine learning, and key elements of decision theory. A key component of the course is learning to identify the biases and other pitfalls that may color the formulation and interpretation of arguments, models, and decisions.

2. Empirical Analyses

(8 Credits)
Empirical Analyses focuses on thinking creatively. You will become familiar with the central methods used in the natural and social sciences, enabling you to frame problems effectively, develop and test hypotheses, and engage in informed conjecture.

3. Multimodal Communications

(8 Credits)
Multimodal Communications focuses on communicating effectively. Students learn effective reading and writing, visual communication, public speaking, and the roles of art and music in communication.

4. Complex Systems

(8 Credits)
This course focuses on effective engagement in social systems. Students learn to recognize that they are embedded within many different complex social systems, and apply their understanding of these systems to social interactions—which informs, for example, the way they deal with ethical conflicts, debate, negotiation, and leadership.

the fit with your hkust major

Program Pathway

This is a two-year program that commences in Year 1, and should complete in Year 2 in order to have the best fit with your HKUST major program. Each Cornerstone Course lasts one academic year, which is split into half parts with the first half (4 credits) in the Fall term and the second half (4 credits) in the Spring term. Below is the recommended program pathway:

Year 1:

  • Formal Analyses
  • Empirical Analyses
  • Multimodal Communications

Year 2:

  • Complex Systems

Credit Recognition

The Cornerstone Courses fit well with your HKUST undergraduate program by providing 32 credits that satisfy part of the Common Core. Students who successfully complete the Cornerstone Courses will receive credits from Minerva Schools at KGI.  A formal transcript outlining the courses taken and the grades obtained will be issued by Minerva Schools at KGI.  These credits can then be transferred to HKUST as follows:

Formal Anaylses:

  • 8 credits towards Common Core (Quantitative Reasoning)
  • Fall session (4 credits) + Spring session (4 credits)

Empirical Analyses

  • 8 credits towards Common Core (Science and Technology)
  • Fall session (4 credits) + Spring session (4 credits)

Multimodal Communications

  • 8 credits towards Common Core (Humanities)
  • Fall session (4 credits) + Spring session (4 credits)

Complex Systems

  • 8 credits towards Common Core (Social Analysis)
  • Fall session (4 credits) + Spring session (4 credits)

Applicant Qualifications

This program is open to students entering Year 1 of an undergraduate degree program at HKUST.

The teaching and learning model of this program requires students to have certain learning traits and styles in order to be successful.  The below listed are some of the traits that form part of the requirements in selecting the best matched candidates for this program:

  • Academically curious and deeply inquisitive
  • Have broad interests in a variety of subjects
  • Are independently motivated
  • Possess a drive to continuously excel
  • Are globally minded
  • Ability to collaborate and lead

In addition, a high level of English language ability is required for succeeding in this program.   As such, attainment in one of the below English language exams and the corresponding grades is part of the requirements in selection of the right candidates.

  • HKDSE: 5* or above, with no sub-score lower than 5
  • HKAL: B or above, with no sub-score lower than C
  • IELTS: 7.0 or above, with no sub-score lower than 6.5
  • TOEFL (paper-based): 600 or above, and 5 or above on TWE
  • TOEFL (internet-based): 100 or above and 24 or above on Writing
  • Certificate in Advanced English: B or above
  • AP English Language and Composition / Literature and Composition: 4 or above
  • IB English A (HL/SL): 4 or above
  • IB English B (HL/SL): 6 or above
  • GCEOL / GCSE / IGCSE English (First Language) : A*
  • GCE English (AL/AS): A

To Apply

Applications are now invited from students who will enter HKUST on an undergraduate degree program in September 2018.  Local JUPAS candidates are welcome to apply.  Local Direct Entry and Non-local applicants holding a conditional or firm admission offer are also eligible to apply.

Interested students should submit your application here.  As part of the application, students are required to submit a statement describing their fit, expectations, and purpose for applying to this program.  This statement should be around 350 words, and is submitted online within the application form.

Attendance at a selection interview is a required part of the selection process.  You will be asked to indicate your preferred interview time slots in the application. Interviews will be conducted via an online platform, such as Skype.  Interviews will be conducted in May, July and August 2018.  Interested students are advised to submit their applications early in the summer.

Decisions will be made and announced on a rolling basis. Note that being successfully selected into this program does not imply admission to HKUST, as students must first be officially admitted to HKUST before they can enroll in this program.

Other Matters



1. Background Knowledge and Summer Preparation

A basic knowledge of calculus, algebra and programming in Python is required. Please review the list of background knowledge and recommended preparation you may consider taking in the summer before the program commences in September.

2. Required Technology

Students are required to have their own laptops and the related computer equipment that meet the requirements for use of the Active Learning Forum. You will also need access to high-speed wireless internet, which is available on the HKUST campus. Please review the list of computer and equipment requirements.



1. Course Add/Drop

As with all course enrollment, there is the option to drop a course in this Program after the course have commenced. Students are advised to follow the HKUST Add/Drop deadline so that a drop of a Minerva course can be replaced with a HKUST course if needed.

2. Transcript and Credits

Students will receive a transcript issued by Minerva Schools at KGI indicating the course(s) taken and the grade(s) obtained. The credits will be transferred into your HKUST student record following the course mapping outlined above. As with all credit transfers, the grades obtained and listed on the Minerva transcript will not be transferred to HKUST. The transferred grade will be a “T” grade, indicating that the credits are transferred. The “T” grade does not count towards the calculation of grade averages at HKUST.

3. Certificate of Completion

Students who successfully complete all four Cornerstone Courses with “Pass” will receive a Certificate of Completion issued by HKUST.


The HKUST-Minerva Scholars Program is a partnership between The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Minerva Schools at KGI.

The execution at HKUST is jointly coordinated by the Center for Education Innovation (CEI) and the Global Student Programs Office (GSPO), with the close collaboration of Schools, Interdisciplinary Programs Office, Center for Language Education, Academic Registry and the Office of Institutional Research.

If you have any questions about this program, you can check the list of FAQs. For enquiries, please contact:

Center for Education Innovation
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Email :