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I am currently a masters physics student and doing my master thesis abroad during an exchange. At the moment my master thesis will be graded by my home university, but I have the option to enroll on the exchange university, thus being a master student there (and my master thesis will be graded there, too). Furthermore I will get a master degree from this university, and not from my home one.

Now my question is: Is it theoretically possible to use this master thesis for graduating at my home university, too (getting me two master degrees)? If not, should I still enroll on the exchange university and only get my masters degree there (it would not result in a loss of time; I would finish as I would have finished my masters degree at my home university)? Why?

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    I don't really understand what an "exchange university" is for a master's student: could you clarify? (Or perhaps others will know.) Anyway, your situation of having one foot in each of two different universities sounds rather unusual. The answer probably depends on the particulars of your program(s): is there some reason you wouldn't ask your two universities about it directly? (If you're worried that the question will sound ridiculous or offensive: don't be. It sounds reasonable to me.) Whether you will actually gain anything from these "two degrees" is of course a different question. – Pete L. Clark Sep 29 '14 at 22:58
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    @PeteL.Clark Anyway, your situation of having one foot in each of two different universities sounds rather unusual. It is actually (relatively) common outside the US. ;) But the specific details do indeed vary, so only the universities involved would know the answer. – fkraiem Sep 29 '14 at 23:11
  • @PeteL.Clark: Exchange university: I am currently an erasmus exchange student, thus I called the host university "Exchange university" – arc_lupus Sep 30 '14 at 6:45
  • Isn't this self-plagiarism? – Enthusiastic Engineer Sep 30 '14 at 12:25
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    Don't you have an advisor in the erasmus mundus program? You should definitely ask him/her, as he/she may know best. – rch Oct 1 '14 at 21:56
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Yes, it is theoretically possible that a university accepts a thesis that has been used to acquire another degree (I even know cases where this happened for two different fields). Usually, the only way to find out is to ask the responsible people at your home university and your exchange university. The latter matters because it might cause trouble if they have some regulations about you “reusing” your thesis. I can imagine that some universities have existing regulations for this matter, so you might check them first to avoid annoying people by asking something that you could have looked up easily.

If this is not possible, I can think of some factors to consider as to which university’s degree you want to get:

  • One university’s degree might have a generally higher prestige.
  • Relatedly, a foreign degree might not be accepted or be less valued by potential future employers (be they academic or not). This might even hold, if there are international regulations to make degrees comparable (I know somebody who did a second thesis partly due to this).
  • Finishing the degree at a foreign university while not completing the degree you originally set out to achieve might be regarded as unfinished studies by some bureaucrats, which is more likely to be negative than positve. Even worse, this may ring title-mill alerts to some. And yes, this would all be rather silly but unfortunately very real.

So, if this is any realistic, make as much decisions about your future as possible and ask potential employers as to whether they have any preference regarding this.

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    Also, there are sometimes partnerships between universities (or single faculties) where it is officially announced and promoted, that one can earn a degree of both universities if one has taken part in their exchange program and fits some additional conditions (having studied at least x semesters in each university or the like). – Benedikt Bauer Sep 30 '14 at 10:56

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