Common Core Curriculum

The Common Core Program is a key part of the undergraduate education, complementing studies in specialist disciplines and other learning opportunities.

Since the last implementation of the Common Core program in 2012, there have been speedy changes in global technology trends, and the rising importance of cross-disciplinary studies. In this context, the objectives, structure, and implementation of the Common Core Program and its components are revised to adequately equip students for future challenges.

The new framework will take effect from the academic year 2022-23. All undergraduates admitted from 2022-23 and thereafter will follow the new 30-credit program framework.

The new 30-credit Common Core framework adopts a scaffolding structure with 3 tiers of common core groups (i.e. Foundations group, Broadening group, and Experiencing group) which provide students with more inter‐disciplinary and experiential learning opportunities.

A new competency framework is introduced to help students acquire, develop, and practice competencies that are essential for their study and future.

The table below shows the common core groups, common core areas and requirements:


  • 12 to 15 credits of courses in Foundations group
  • 12 to 18 credits of courses in Broadening group
  • 0 to 3 credits of courses in Experiencing group

The Foundations group includes the Chinese Communication, English Communication, Cognitive Foundations of University Education: Critical Thinking and Data Literacy (CTDL), and Behavioral Foundations of University Education: Habits, Mindsets, and Wellness (HMW).

These courses aim at providing the core skillsets and mindsets training to students. Students are recommended to take them preferably in Year 1.

For Broadening group, students from different major programs will have different minimum credit requirement for each area in the Broadening group. In general, students should fulfill program-specific credit requirement so as to achieve the Broadening requirement. However, if student wish to take course(s) in the Broadening group to substitute for CTDL/UxOP, they can take any course from the Broadening group.

Students are allowed to take any common core courses in Broadening group upon the completion of one common core course in English Communication (E-Comm) at HKUST.

The Experiencing group will require students to choose any one out of the four structured programs offered as the Undergraduate experiential Opportunities Programs (UxOP):

  • UROP: Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program;
  • UTOP: Undergraduate Teaching Opportunities Program;
  • UPOP: Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program; and
  • UCOP: Undergraduate Global Challenges and Opportunities Program.

Each UxOP will have a different focus but they will all be experiential, inter-disciplinary, and involve communications with stakeholders outside the student’s home discipline. Alternatively, students may take one course from the Broadening group to substitute UxOP.

Completing the requirements

Students complete the common core requirements by selecting courses from the set of courses listed for the respective common core area, and complete them in the academic year in which they are so listed. Changes may be made to the common core course lists from year to year; as a result, some courses may be added to the list and some removed.

Only common core courses with course prefix CORE can be used to fulfill the common core requirements of 30-credit Common Core Program. In the other words, any courses with other course prefixes (e.g. ACCT, COMP, ENVR, HUMA, PHYS, etc) CANNOT be used to fulfill the common core requirements of 30-credit Common Core Program.

Before course registration, students should check the list of common core courses to ensure that they are selecting the current set of courses to satisfy the common core requirement. Students may also find out from these lists whether a course taken in previous years can be used to satisfy the common core requirements.

Common Core Course List