I am currently in the process of applying for PhDs. My question is whether it is frowned upon to have done a degree in a subject completely unrelated to my main studies. I just completed two masters at top universities concurrently, one in biology and the other in English literature. I did the literature degree to please my parents, my real passion is in biology. I steered my English degree somewhat towards the biology by writing my dissertation on the representation of tropical diseases in literature. I am wondering whether I should list this degree on my CV or just leave it off? I thought that it might prove how hard-working I am to do two masters concurrently. I also scored the highest mark out of my class in my biology master, so the other master did not affect my primary master.

Any advice would be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


I would say to list it, for a couple of reasons:

  • It does show that you are hardworking, 2 concurrent Masters degrees completed and completed to a great standard.

  • Practically, it further demonstrates the abilities necessary to research, synthesise information, draw valid conclusions from a wide range of sources.

Also, you put in the effort, why not 'show off' your good work. By steering your Literature Masters in a biological direction with your topic of tropical diseases, you have also shown how this long-standing and serious issue (tropical diseases) have been portrayed to the non-scientific community.

  • 5
    I agree; listing both can only help you. Moreover, I think not listing both degrees would be dishonest.
    – JeffE
    Aug 6, 2013 at 20:06

As Damien have stated you should list both and for the reasons provided in that answer. In addition, I think it is worth thinking about how well you can second guess how anyone on the receiving end will percieve your CV. Basically, you cannot know. It is therefore important to list everything and in cases such as that about which you ask, provide a brief account to honestly describe why you did it. If you managed to do a masters with flying colours ina topic you do not like, that is a very strong show. I am impressed and so will others. So look through your CV, list everything that indicates stamina, effort, ambition, perseverance etc. and where you think things can be misinterpreted, add some sentence explaining why you claim it is a plus. You can easily do this in a short narrative that summarizes your CV and strong points. You can then put everything in the light in which you want them to be seen.

  • definitely agree with this - and it is quite an important skill to try and second guess or anticipate the response any CV will get.
    – user7130
    Aug 7, 2013 at 7:17

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