Tough entry requirements precede acceptance into a programme AN EMBARRASSMENT of riches awaits the student poised to choose a postgraduate programme. There is an abundance of them on offer in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and over the internet. However, getting accepted into a programme is another matter altogether. Applicants usually have to meet tough entry criteria. In addition to their tertiary qualifications, candidates are often required to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for MBA and business courses, and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for arts and science programmes. Students planning to study overseas must also take English language tests, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Ronald Po, managing partner at Capstone Prep, said Asia boasted high GMAT scores, with students obtaining some of the highest averages in the world. However, this is not the case with the GRE, which can be challenging to those who speak English as a second language. A minimum of two months' preparation is recommended for the GMAT, and three to six months for the GRE, which covers a wide vocabulary range and can be challenging for Hong Kong students. Mr Po said those hoping to enter educational institutions in the United States should apply in the early rounds for admissions. The United States has significantly tightened entry requirements since the September 11 terrorist attacks, so candidates who have been accepted at US institutions should be prepared to wait for their visas. Admission criteria at the Manchester Business School in Britain, which offers a range of business programmes, usually focuses on work experience and academic and/or professional qualifications. Candidates may have to take GMAT and/or an English language test. A GMAT is not required to study for a Master of Science in science and technology policy and management, an MSc in organisational and managerial psychology or a MSc in finance and economics. MSc programme applicants in Britain and the US must meet the general requirements of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office and hold a bachelor's degree, with high standing. For most MSc programmes, this requirement can be met if the applicant has a BSc diploma in the same discipline or, in some cases, in a closely related field of study. Candidates wishing to join a PhD programme offered by the Melbourne University's Arts Faculty are required to complete a recognised programme equivalent to a four-year Australian BA honours degree, postgraduate diploma or master's by research with a major in the relevant field. They must also meet language proficiency requirements. Similar programmes require the same general qualifications but may include additional requirements. The University of New South Wales, which offers more than 700 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, is offering two new long-distance courses: a Master of Business & Technology and a Master of Taxation. Applicants without a degree may enter at graduate certificate level, while university graduates can enter directly at the master's level. All applicants should have a minimum of four years' relevant professional experience and meet the required English language standards. Locally, students applying to enrol in the University of Hong Kong's three-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and four-year Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes should have an honours degree from the university or an equivalent qualification from a comparable institution. Some degree courses have more specific requirements. Qualifying examinations to test an applicant's ability may be conducted. Applicants with qualifications other than an honours degree are considered on individual merit.