I am an undergraduate student from South Africa about to enter my fourth year of study in economics. Key to what you should know is that our (in South Africa) academic year starts at the beginning of the calendar year. So my home institution's first semester is at the same time as European second semesters. As part of my degree I have to complete an exchange semester abroad. This typically happens in the second semester of third year. However, due to COVID, things have been shuffled around and I will now be doing my exchange in the second half of 2021, my final semester of undergrad (second half of fourth year).

My ultimate goal is to get a master's degree from the exchange institution in Europe. My exchange semester will be after I have completed all my home institution credits, and it will be a first semester at the home institution. By virtue of my already completed credits, I am eligible to register for all the required subjects (minus thesis) for the first semester of the master's degree during my exchange. Thus, my plan is to do the first half of the master's degree (1 year programme) on my exchange. Then, I want to use those classes as credits towards a master's degree, and finish the second half in the semester immediately after my graduation from my home university.

In principle, I have the support from the head of department for economics from my home university and that of my degree programme head. I have also finished with undergraduate economics (my major) early, and will be starting with postgraduate economics as an extra in the semester between now and my exchange (only possible due to special permissions).

My contact person at my home institution's international office is not entirely supportive of the idea, and is worried that there may be an issue with using the same credits for two degrees.

My grades are excellent, and my extra-curricular experience is also very good. Based on the requirements, I suspect I would be very eligible for the master's programme at the exchange institution.

How doable is this? And what would be the best course of action?

  • I am not in SA or Europe, so I won't answer, but I sincerely doubt this is possible. However, the master's degree may later waive classes you took, if appropriate. – Azor Ahai -him- Dec 15 '20 at 21:02
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    @AzorAhai-him- Thanks for your comment. Could you elaborate a bit perhaps on why you think it would not be possible? To clarify, perhaps, the idea is not that I would be registered for two degrees at once, but rather that I be register for the master's degree midway into the academic year (begin 2022) because I'd have already completed all the required classes up to that point. – AfricanEconomist Dec 15 '20 at 21:11
  • Probably the agreement between the university only lets the classes taken count toward the host institution. Usually classes used for one degree can't be used for another, but the master's program may waive it's required classes if you've already taken them. You should get in touch with someone at the master's program and ask them if you could skip any required classes under your scheme. – Azor Ahai -him- Dec 15 '20 at 21:32
  • You may not be enrolled as a "matriculating" student at the exchange university. Matriculating means working towards graduation. If you're enrolled as a visiting/exchange student, they likely won't allow those courses for the master's. – mkennedy Dec 16 '20 at 18:42

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