Students, their parents, faculty, and other advisors have asked the following questions about the IIM:
What is an IIM?
IIM students have the academic freedom to combine courses from different Departments, Divisions and Schools at HKUST, and even different universities, to develop an interdisciplinary major tailor-made to their intellectual interests. The program initiated will enable them the pursuit of a novel interdisciplinary research field or a career in an area of emerging significance, with standards ensured by a small supervisory team.
The purpose of this major is to allow students to design a major which is interdisciplinary, yet forms a conceptual whole. It is not intended to allow a student to randomly select courses which are interested to them or to selectively omit one or two requirements from another major currently offered in HKUST. The major must have a theme, an in-depth examination of a particular topic, or a defined field of study.
How do I officially declare an IIM?
You must apply to the IIM by preparing a formal proposal consisting of:
A cover sheet, listing your name, student ID, ITSC account, proposed IIM title, advisors, etc;
Introduction and background (approximately 1 page);
A clear statement of the central academic purpose of your proposed IIM (approximately 3-4 pages);
Conclusion (approximately 1 -2 paragraphs)
A proposed course list (using the template provided);
A proposed study pathway (using the template provided);
Benchmarking Table (using the template provided);
The signed faculty advisor evaluation form (using the template provided)
How the approval process will be?
For each IIM, it has to go through four-level of approval.
The student has to obtain the approval from the two advisors before they submit the proposal.
The Individualized Major Advisory Committee (IMAC) composed of advisors and additional faculty members will review the proposal, and at the end either approve it or deny the application.
The IPO-level committee will review and approve the proposal.
The proposal will be submitted to the University-level committee (Committee of Undergraduate Studies) for final endorsement.
When can I apply to the IIM?
Students who are interested in declaring IIM as their major should apply with prior preparation no later than their Year 1's Winter semester. Late application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Who will help me develop my plan of study?
Faculty members and staff in the Individualized Interdisciplinary Major Program, as well as faculty advisors, will help you develop your plan of study.
You begin by preparing a statement of purpose and plan of study in consultation with the Program Director of IIM, Prof. King Chow. With the help of Prof. Chow, you identify at least two faculty members, from different departments relevant to your major, who can further assist you with developing the plan of study.
How many advisors will I have?
At least four. Two or more faculty advisors you identified, an industry practitioner/ another faculty member identified by IPO and the Individualized Major Program Director.
Can I include an internship in my major?
Yes, we highly recommend that you include an internship or field experience in your plan of study. An internship or field experience offers insight into a particular career path and provides practical work experience. It is an opportunity for you to network with other people who share your interests. The knowledge, skills, and connections that you acquire will be a key asset as you seek employment or apply to graduate or professional schools.
Identifying an appropriate internship is time consuming! Do seek advice from the Career Advisor from IPO, for more information.
Can I incorporate study abroad courses in my major?
Yes, study abroad is an important part of many individualized majors’ plans of study. It can help you to build academic and personal strength; test your skills and adaptability in a new environment; and see the world from new and varied perspectives.
Identifying a program where you can pursue your particular interests may take some time. Plan ahead and include it in your proposal! Exchange opportunity to different university may be limited for specific institutions, be prepared to have alternative choices of institutions and the courses to be studied there. The more options you have in mind, the chance of having it materialized is higher.
Can I include courses from other Universities in Hong Kong? How many credits of my individualized major must be from the HKUST?
Yes, you can include courses from other Universities in Hong Kong. Provided that the number of courses are small, we can accommodate the courses taken in other local institutions as part of the curriculum requirement. For details application procedures, please refer to here.
Do I have to fulfil School requirements, the University Common Core and language requirements?
You should fulfil all the Common Core and language requirements. However, the School requirements are waived.
Will it take me longer to graduate with an individualized major?
Usually no, but remember, you do need to apply to the program in your first year of study if you want to be reasonably certain that you can complete your plan of study by the end of the fourth year. Depending on the sequence of the courses in your study plan and their offering time, delay of graduation may happen.
How many credit I can take each semester?
In each regular term, students within their normal duration of study and in good academic standing must register for courses to a total of at least 12 credits, and for not more than 18 credits. However, to give you the flexibility of managing your own study plans, you have the option to have credit overloads, upon approval from the all faculty advisors from your IMAC.
What will my diploma say?
Diplomas will say that you have earned a Bachelor of Science from the HKUST and the title of your major will be listed. An individualized major in Cultural Studies, for example, would be listed on the diploma as "Bachelor of Science in Individualized Interdisciplinary Major (Cultural Studies)". This also applies to the transcript.
What can I do with an IIM?
Many things! Individualized degree holders’ outstanding knowledge and skills, along with clear commitment to and enthusiasm for the subject selected for study, opens up an exciting range of openings for graduates. Options include working in the area of specialty for an established company, further studies and research in emerging fields, or developing a start-up.
Recent survey conducted by an US university reveals that, "Individualized Major program is a great talking point in job interviews. People are genuinely interested in how an Individualized Major program works, ask a lot of questions and like the varied coursework on the transcript. The major shows one's ambition, curiosity, and creativity and employers like that. Many employers like to see candidates take a more active role in their undergraduate studies."