A friend of mine has finished his courses needed for his PhD. He's just working on his thesis now. He can do that remotely.

He's coming to the U.S. for his wife to study. During this time, can he enroll in a masters/PhD program at an American university?

Would this create any problems in the academic world or if later he applies for work and they an overlap on his years? Or this is something completely legit and legal?

I've already seen Master and PhD program at the same time but that doesn't answer this question.

  • So: you ask whether it is allowed that this guy be enrolled in two different PhD programs (in different countries) at the same time?
    – GEdgar
    Dec 14, 2018 at 12:33
  • Is your friend a citizen/permanent resident of the other country? If not, make sure that writing the thesis remotely and returning to defend it is compatible with the relevant visa rules.
    – Anyon
    Dec 14, 2018 at 13:21
  • @Anyon He's a resident of the other country. Not of U.S.
    – Honey
    Dec 14, 2018 at 14:30
  • If he's on a J-2 or an H-4 visa. If he's on a F-2 visa, he is not allowed to study for a degree.
    – mkennedy
    Dec 14, 2018 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


To my knowledge, there aren't any laws prohibiting anyone from joining a graduate program for any reason. It might be a problem if there is a conflict in grant funding or with the confidentiality needs of a particular research program, but otherwise it should be fine. He should Just make sure he fulfill any obligations in the programs.

It would probably be best, just to avoid later questions, for your friend to be open with the new program about his relationship with the old one. But I don't think that is actually required.

I wonder, of course, why the OP thinks two degrees are necessary and whether there is time to be faithful to both, but that isn't a legal concern.

  • 1
    To answer your question of why: Possibly visa reasons. I knew someone in grad school who was working on a PhD in the US even though he had one from his home country. A student visa was easier to get and he wanted to be with his wife in the US. Dec 14, 2018 at 13:22
  • 1
    I would think that not disclosing the continuing relationship with the first program would not be taken lightly if discovered.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 14, 2018 at 13:34
  • @RichardErickson I understand. But in his case, he already has a visa...
    – Honey
    Dec 14, 2018 at 14:37
  • @Honey the OP notes the wife has a visa, not the husband. A grad student can get paid as a graduate sudent, but the other visa might not allow the spouse to be paid. Alternatively, perhaps the person wants a second PhD from a US university to open doors in the US. Dec 14, 2018 at 15:39

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