I was accepted to a master program in data science in the UK. However, I am also interested in specific program on machine learning at another institution also in the UK.

The thing is that my data science program has some overlap to the machine learning program, but not completely. The machine learning program has significantly more in-depth courses, and many other courses regarding deep learning's applications that are not available at my current program.

Is it fine if I apply for the machine learning program after the data science one? In the UK, are there rules that forbid this? Or would the admission committee just throw my application out since they deemed for some reason the two programs are too similar?

  • Are you talking about doing them at the same time, or serially? "apply for ... after ..." is unclear. Might be similar to academia.stackexchange.com/q/44651/43873
    – shoover
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 18:16
  • I think you are too in love with credentials. Please note that many employers do not care what degrees you have, only what value you can bring to the table. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 9:50

2 Answers 2


I don't know of any generic rules which forbid this. Indeed taking a masters degree after another higher degree is an accepted, although uncommon, method to switch career paths fairly deep into one's education. On the other hand, as you note yourself, that's not really what you are suggesting here, and any application is going to have significant barriers to overcome, firstly as to how you'll be funding this (masters courses are expensive, after all) and secondly as to why you aren't following the more natural career path of moving on to a Ph.D. if you want to continue your studies. Which isn't to say that a sufficiently strong narrative wouldn't manage to get you an offer if numbers weren't limited and you could explain your funding.

(It's worth noting that while the University probably doesn't have a rule against this, many potential sources of funding do)

  • Hi, thank you for responding. I want to learn more regarding machine learning, and for me funding would not be an issue. But still, you are right in a sense that a course with overlapping knowledge is not really cost-efficient. What do you think about an MRes in machine learning as a next-step after my MSc data science degree? Specifically the program offer by UCL. It opens doors to UCL's PhD programs and I really feel like I need that course to prepare me for PhDs, since my undergrad background is not strong quantitatively. And I have no research experience. Commented May 21, 2018 at 11:46

My suggestion here would be to first decide on your ultimate goal and then decide on which one of these programs gets you closer to the goal effectively and efficiently. If your goal is a doctorate you don't need two masters degrees.

Also, you don't need to be in a degree program to learn about things you need or are interested in. If you think the program you are in has a few holes there are a lot of ways to address that other than another degree.

I don't know the UK rules so don't know if being accepted in one program makes you ineligible for application to another, but absent a prohibition, I would think you can do what you want. Just be sure you understand what it is that you want. I worry that your quandary is driven by indecision about that.

And even if you are equivocal about your future, it isn't the end of the world. You can pursue one of two things (for a degree) and then morph if you find a better option. The similarity helps you here as you are unlikely to spend time on things that don't advance you on some aspects.

But first, decide if at all possible. It probably has less consequence than you fear.

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