I am a first year Master's degree student of computer science in Northern Europe. I am paying for my living expenses and do not have any kind of assistantship or funding. I have a full funding admission for the same subject in Canada. I would like to know if it is a good idea to accept the offer and start my studies there and also continue my current degree remotely (Since the second year is about completing the thesis, and I can do it while I'm in another place) or drop my studies completely here (since I would like to move to Canada or USA later and have money issues to continue my current studies). If I do have two MSc degrees in the same subject, would is have any negative or positive effect on applying for a phd degree later?

Thanks in advance

  • 4
    Some universities do not allow a 2nd similar degree in the same subject. See an example in one of the answers here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/13641/…
    – mkennedy
    Feb 21, 2014 at 16:48
  • 1
    As the rules are likely to differ between universities, I recommend you ask the department staff in your current program as well as the staff at the program you wish to attend.
    – eykanal
    May 1, 2014 at 11:54

2 Answers 2


The first question is whether you even have the option of working on both degrees at once. I'd assume you don't, since positions with full funding are generally based on an assumption that you will be devoting full effort to them. They may formally rule out other employment/studies, and even if they don't the department may become upset or feel tricked if they discover you are also doing something else at the same time. (And departments can sometimes react similarly even if the position has no funding: even if you are paying your own living expenses, they probably consider themselves to be at least partially subsidizing the costs of your education.)

So you shouldn't try to do both degrees at once unless both departments officially agree to it. Even in that case, I think it's a bad idea. Success in graduate school is based on quality, not quantity, and this approach can't be good for quality. You'll be writing your thesis remotely, with far less contact and advising than you would have had in person. That alone will make it harder to do your best work, but at the same time you'll also be participating in a different full-time program. You might not be able to do good work for both at once; if you can, then you ought to be able to do great work if you focus on just one (and doing great work at one program is much better than doing good work at two). The same reasoning applies no matter how talented and hard-working you are: if you can do great work in both programs at once, then you ought to be able to do amazing work by focusing on one.

If I do have two MSc degrees in the same subject, would is have any negative or positive effect on applying for a phd degree later?

Having two MSc degrees might be a small negative, by making you look unfocused, but it probably won't make much of a difference either way. Ultimately, you'll be evaluated by your academic achievements (papers, thesis, outstanding performance in courses), judged primarily by quality rather than quantity, so you should try to maximize these achievements.


Having two MSc degrees is not unusual. And it can only be positive. However, you might find it not so useful at the end of the day.

In general it is not necessary to have two degrees in the same subject, so people would rather concentrate into getting only one, with the maximal grades, as it is sufficient either for getting a job or a PhD candidate position.

On the other hand, having another degree from another university shows that you could work succesfully in another environment, maybe with a different speciality or focus. The reason why people would take a second degree is often because of this focused extra experience, and because they can use their previous credits and/or knowledge to complete their second degree quicker ("double degrees" are common wherever there is an agreement between universities).

However, my advice would be to go for this second degree only if there is some added learning value to it, as it is not necessary for the PhD itself, and you would rather use this time for preparing specifically to your future research, which will in all cases be much narrower and require much time. On a side note, once you get your PhD, as a researcher, your MSc's will not be much value anymore, especially if they are exactly in the same field.

  • 4
    And it can only be positive. — [citation needed]
    – JeffE
    May 1, 2014 at 11:15

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