Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that most of the information contained here can also be found in GPL's (Office of Graduate Studies and Professional Learning) and ELL AG's (English Language and Literature Academic Group) webpages, and the Student Handbook (Master's Programmes by Coursework) in NIE's Student Portal (Login -> Student Information -> Master Programmes by Coursework and Dissertation -> Student Handbook)

1. I’m from overseas, which MA should I apply for?

See "How and when can I apply for the MA in Applied Linguistics Programme?" below.


2. What are the admission requirements for the MA in Applied Linguistics Programme?

  • A good undergraduate degree in English Language studies,
    A good undergraduate degree in a related field with a postgraduate diploma in English Language studies

  • Please note that there are separate requirements for PDCM sponsorship, if eligible.

    3. How and when can I apply for the MA in Applied Linguistics Programme?

    For the January intake (ie., MA Evening programme, PDCM and non-PDCM), applications are open to all (including, overseas applicants, local MOE teachers, local non-MOE personnel, and so on), and are normally invited during the first three weeks of July the year before. Look out for details in the local newspapers or NIE’s Foundation Programmes webpage (see Graduate Programmes).

    For the July intake (ie., the MA PDCM 433), applications are only open to graduate teachers working with MOE via the PDCM 433 Scheme. Look out for details in NIE’s and MOE’s webpages.

    4. What is the difference between the part-time and accelerated programmes?
    How many courses can I take at a time?

    In the MA Evening programme, you can either do it part-time (typically 2 courses at a time, spread over 5 semesters) or in the accelerated mode (4-5 courses at a time, spread over 2-3 semesters).

    5. I’m in the part-time programme, can I do more than two courses at a time?

    As a part-time participant, you are advised to do only two courses each semester.

    If you wish to do three courses (which is the maximum allowed) during a particular semester, you will need to write to the MA Coordinator for approval. In your application letter, you need to include the following information: the list of courses your wish to enrol in; indicate that you are aware that a typical course requires a commitment of an average of 9 hours of study time per course per semester; and indicate specifically how you will find time to do the courses.

    Without written approval, part-time students will not be allowed to register for three courses during a semester.

    6. Can I switch between the part-time and accelerated programmes?

    If you are in the Evening programme, you can switch between the part-time and accelerated programmes, subject to approval, but only once. Multiple switching between the two are rarely allowed.

    Note that the accelerated programme is only intended for participants who are not in full-time employment or are on official leave from full-time employment.

    Note too that if you are MOE sponsored via the PDCM scheme and wish to convert to the Accelerated programme, you will need to apply for leave from MOE, and you will also lose your MOE sponsorship and became liable for all remaining fees.


    7. How much do I have to pay for the MA programme?

    Information about fees are published in the Foundation Programmes-Graduate Programmes webpages.

    PDCM-sponsored participants pay a once-off registration fee only, while non-PDCM-sponsored participants are eligible to pay all published fees.


    8. Do I have to pay anything if I withdraw from the MA Programme?

    If you are PDCM-sponsored, you have to compensate MOE for the courses they have sponsored so far. Please check with MOE and the Student Handbook for the details.

    If you are not PDCM sponsored, there are no additional penalties.

    9. What happens if I resign from MOE midway through my MA?

    If you are sponsored by MOE via the PDCM scheme, you will become liable for all remaining fees from that point onwards. You must also inform GPL of your change in employment status.

    If you are not sponsored by MOE at all, you will pay your remaining fees in the usual fashion.

    10. Can I get accreditation for courses I’ve completed elsewhere?

    Yes, you can, up to a maximum of four relevant courses at the MA level or equivalent, subject to approval.

    Participants must complete the Subject Accreditation Form, available in the Student Portal. Please refer to the Student Handbook for more details regarding eligibility.

    11. Can I apply for leave of absence if I can’t make it for any course?

    If you are in the MA Evening programme, you can, with valid reasons, apply for leave of absence for a semester (or more). All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

    If you are in the MA 433 programme, leave of absence from any course is not possible, except in exceptional cases, because of the rigid structure of the programme.

    12. Is there a dissertation and should I opt to do it?

    In the MA 433 programme, there is no dissertation component.

    In the MA Evening programme, you can opt for the Coursework with Dissertation Route or the Coursework Entirely Route. See relevant ELL webpages for details.

    In general, only participants with an interest in doing extended research in a specific area are encouraged to opt for the dissertation. Additional pre-requisites may be imposed in future.

    Participants who do not wish to pursue an extended enquiry of research should opt for the Coursework Route.

    13. If I don’t do the dissertation, will I be at a disadvantage when I apply for a PhD?

    Participants who have completed the MA either via the Coursework with Dissertation Route or the Coursework Entirely Route are accorded the same privileges of the MA degree upon graduation. They are of equal standing.

    Many PhD programmes however require applicants to demonstrate some ability in doing extended research (eg., the completion of a prior MA dissertation) at the time of application, although this ability is not necessarily only demonstrated through the completion of a prior dissertation. Other sources of evidence of such ability (eg., the completion of a long essay or a research paper) may be considered too.

    14. Can I apply for the PhD programme after I’ve completed the MA?

    Yes, you can. Admission is on a competitive basis and only strong applicants will be short listed.

    15. What are the graduation requirements of the MA programme?

    The requirements for graduation are:

    1. Successful completion of all course requirements as prescribed by the MA in Applied Linguistics programme; and

    2. A minimum CGPA of 2.50 attained at the completion of the programme.

    The number of courses required for graduation are stated in the ELL MA webpages. Please consult them.

    The Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) represents the grade point average of all courses attempted by a participant.

    The corresponding grade point for each letter grade is as follows:

    Letter Grade

    Grade Point























    16. Is there a minimum grade I need to maintain in order to graduate?

    Yes, the minimum CGPA for graduation is 2.5.

    Note too that there is also a minimum Term Grade Point Average (TGPA) for the continuation of studies for each term.

    The TGPA represents the grade point average of all subjects attempted by a participant in any term of study (ie., any semester of study).

    In any term of study, a participant is considered to be making satisfactory progress if he/she attains a minimum TGPA of 2.50.

    If the TGPA is less than 2.50 in any term of study, an academic warning letter will be issued.

    If the TGPA is less than 2.50 for the second consecutive term of study, candidature will be terminated.

    17. What happens if I fail a course?

    If it is a Core or Required Course, you will need to do it again.

    If it is an elective, you can apply to do the same course again or apply to do another course.

    A Fail (F) grade obtained in a course and the new grade attained for any subsequent repeats will be counted in the calculation of the TGPA and the CGPA. The grades for all attempts will be reflected in the transcript.

    Note that fees are chargeable, for both PDCM and non-PDCM participants, for the repeated and/or replacement course.

    18. Can I take additional courses beyond those required for the completion of the programme for self-enrichment?

    Yes you can, but fees are chargeable for each additional course that you are enrolled in.

    You should also seek the MA Coordinator’s advice before you sign up for additional courses.