Are students with masters degree allowed to enter a masters program in the same area at a good university?

Is second masters a good option for a better research experience and improving your CV before applying to a PhD in top programs? I am specifically interested in US universities and computer science.

  • 4
    Many universities don't allow new students into degree programs where they already have a degree (i.e., you can't get a Master's in the same field in which you already have your Master's), but I imagine it is on a case-by-case basis if you don't have your degree yet. Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 9:04
  • In what country? In France, for example, there is nothing to stop you from obtaining a second Masters degree in the same field if you want to…
    – F'x
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 9:07
  • I'm mainly interested in US.
    – user774025
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 9:18
  • I can't say anything about the US, but in many countries you can't get a 2nd degree in that same specific subject, but since there are plenty of specialization masters in CS (AI, Game Design, HCI, Software engineering, Web Engineering) you can obviously choose one of those.
    – superuser0
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 12:57
  • 8
    Every university is different. But for most universities in the US, the answer is probably no.
    – JeffE
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 21:45

5 Answers 5


Getting a second masters degree in the same field may be allowed, but it's extremely rare and I don't think it's a good use of time. I don't think it will help you get admitted to a PhD program. It would just look like an anomaly to the admissions committee. I think it would make more sense to apply directly to PhD programs.

  • But most PhD programs require significant research experience, preferring candidates with multiple publications. How would you suggest getting that experience if the person has already graduated from a (taught) Master's program? Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 22:25
  • 1
    @SilentStone: "But most PhD programs require significant research experience": this is not necessarily the case and is definitely field dependent.
    – Jim Conant
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 3:41

You are certainly allowed to apply, but your chances of getting accepted for a second master's in the same field is approximately zero--with one exception.

If you already have the master's degree you're seeking, most graduate schools will assume that you are really applying for a doctoral program, if the degrees are awarded separately. If you make if clear you are applying for a second master's degree, they'll probably just throw out your application.

The exception to this are programs where you can only be admitted as a doctoral candidate, but can earn a master's along the way. Then the normal procedures will likely still apply. Otherwise, you're out of luck.

  • What if the second MS is in slightly different field? For example the first MS is in CS and the second MS is in Quantum Information Theory?
    – user774025
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 1:42
  • I don't think CS and Quantum Information Theory would fall into the "slightly different" category. Good example of that would be CS and CE. Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 7:53
  • @AbrahamGuchi So CS and QIT will be considered same?
    – user774025
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 12:16
  • 1
    If they're offered by the same department, usually.
    – aeismail
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 17:15
  • It varies by university. I was a computer science PhD student from 2002 to 2009. If I had dropped out, I would not have been awarded a master's degree because I already had one, awarded in 1975. The changes in computer science between 1975 and 2002 were apparently not enough to make it a different subject. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 16:09

I'm doing a 2nd Master's right now in Philosophy when my first was Philosophy of Religion (same classes basically). Both schools are American. There are some schools that are often recommended for people trying to get a 2nd MA in Philosophy. You most certainly CAN do it, at least in the humanities, although there are some cons to going about things this way.

  • But was the 1st MA say the one at Yale in Divinity and the second MA from a humanities program?
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 7:49

Besides to very good advices posted in other answers to this question; I want to mention a few words.

Can a masters student apply for a second masters in the same field at another university?

I think, you are asking about applying and then studying for a second same masters degree. Because a student may be free to apply for a degree, but the admissions office will reject his profile as he is currently student else where.

Answer to your question depends on the educational system of the country and universities policies too.

In some countries, studying simultaneously in two universities and majors is prohibited and graduate students are only allowed to study in their own university. Also, I have seen many universities asking students whether they are currently students or not, because they seek full time students not part time ones.

However, I have seen that some students with outstanding grades and educational background can apply a minor very close to their field in their own university but it was for bachelors level only.

Also, you may find a university which accepts students seeking for double major; but the university in which you are currently studying may not agree to you to study a second major when you are their students.

As a general advice, double check the regulations of both universities and the countries in which you want to study simultaneously.


Yes, it is possible. I have had a master's degree in CS from my home country and then applied for a second master's degree (in an interdisciplinary program but my research was still focused on CS) in order to be able to eventually immigrate and settle in the US. Your best bet is to first secure a professor who is willing to be your supervisor as it will make the whole process easier.

As with your second question, I think it is a better use of time to find a research assistant (staff) position rather than applying for a second master's. the pay will be higher, there will be fewer speed limits (courses, qualifying seminars, mandatory workshops, etc.), and you can focus on your research with less stress about the outcome. I saw a lot of professors at top US universities with two master's degrees though (usually immigrants with their first master's from their home country) and I don't think it is THAT unusual to do so.

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