I am currently a PhD student in my own country. I am also applying to PhD programs in the US right now. My intent is to try and work for both degrees simultaneously because I am worried about the current political climate and want to have a back-up plan in case something goes very wrong in some way in my home country in the coming years.

I have seen cases when people go to a foreign institution, study there full-time and defend their doctoral thesis back home using the research done abroad (of course, their home institution agreed to that). May this lead to problems in the future? For example, may the US institution retract the degree it granted if it becomes aware of the student having been a student at a different institution simultaneously?

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    All universities have rules regarding enrolment, typically that you cannot be enrolled for the same or equivalent degrees in more than one place. For example, I have to include and sign this declaration in my thesis: "Whilst registered as a candidate for the above degree, I have not been registered for any other research award." The degree would certainly be revoked if I had not obeyed that declaration. Nov 28, 2020 at 15:18
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    Do you seriously consider doing two independent PhD's? Or do you want to use the same data/work for two separate theses?
    – Mark
    Nov 28, 2020 at 16:40
  • @Mark In all the cases I witnessed people used the work done in the US for their dissertation at home. But I just contacted one of them and learned that he did not disclose his status while enrolling, and he did negotiate with both universities upon receiving an offer. Nov 29, 2020 at 15:09
  • Not exactly an answer, thus a comment: there are countries/universities where enrolling in a PhD program is not necessary. E.g. in Germany, you could show up with your ready-to-hand-in thesis and if you can convince a professor of your research, you can start the procedure pretty much directly at the "hand in" point. You declare that you did not try to use this work anywhere else as thesis (i.e. you didn't hand it in and were rejected, and you're not trying to hand in in multiple places), but you don't have to declare anything about not having done the research elsewhere. Nov 29, 2020 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


I agree with the others that it is a very bad idea to try and do this under the table. However, you have another opportunity.

Joint PhD programs are a thing. Rather than violating regulations, ask your university if it is possible to find an agreement with the other institution for a joint program that would give you a double degree. I have mostly seen them between European universities, but that is a possibility.

I can foresee difficulties if the two universities have very different 'status', though.


I think it would be a serious mistake to try and deceive either institution. You could wind up ostracized by both and expelled. If both agree that you can do this then the only problem is being able to accomplish the task.

But, of course, you would need to work on separate problems as you can't get two doctorates for the same work. Your advisors in both places need to have the possibility of contacting one another.

All in all it seems like a poor plan. If your home country is in turmoil, make an exit plan, certainly, but this doesn't seem like the correct one.

And one doctoral research program is usually plenty for anyone.

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    Just to add to this: it's hard to imagine that you'll produce high quality work in either PhD program if you're juggling two doctoral programs. If you're hoping to enter academia following your PhD, you'll need to set yourself up as a strong candidate in a shrinking pool of jobs. Most departments are going to want to see a single PhD and a solid body of research rather than two PhDs and a thin body of research.
    – Yasha
    Nov 29, 2020 at 22:15

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