The situation: You did your B.Sc. and M.Sc. in CS with focus on subfield X1 and are now pursuing a PhD in subfield X2. There is a Masters program in subfield X2 available where you do your PhD that offers courses that allow you to advance in this subfield (which is pretty new to you).

Does it make sense to get a second M.Sc. while pursuing a PhD if the courses of the Masters program will be beneficial to your PhD work? Subquestion: Do you think it is even feasible to do this based on your experience?

The geographic context is Europe/Germany so a PhD does not include course work. A Masters (at a university of applied sciences) takes 3 semesters full time with the possibility to double that time when doing it part time.

  • 1
    it makes, but it is better after phd
    – SSimon
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 10:58
  • 2
    Not sure how this works in Germany, but in the Netherlands this is not possible if both are CS programs: subfields of CS all confer a CS degree, and you cannot obtain the same degree twice. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:03
  • 4
    How about just attending the interesting lectures? A second certificate isn't going to be all that valuable, and you can save a lot of time not doing the boring parts...
    – nengel
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:06
  • @JordiVermeulen That is absolutely a point to consider because I believe it is the same for Germany. But in my specific case the Masters was a Research Master and formally in another field but I was effectively working on subfield X2 of CS.
    – asquared
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:22
  • 2
    Because a "bit" of extra work could be done on your PhD work and especially publishable papers. And that probably has more currency than a second masters...
    – Dawn
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


In Germany, as has already been pointed out, the Master's degree is a prerequisite for enrolling in PhD "studies." It should also be pointed out that in the German system, PhD students are Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter (research employees), so it is expected that they would devote all of their time to research activities. Enrolling in a second master's program would run contrary to those expectations, unless you are only a part-time employee (and receive a correspondingly reduced salary). That said, it is possible to sit in on additional classes as a listener. (And generally this is required if you are coming from a foreign country!)

  • The PhD students in my institute all work part-time, typically ranging from 50-80% depending on the projects they work on. So I guess it would be a good idea to ask my supervisors about the workload that one can actually expect and make a decision based on that?
    – asquared
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 9:19
  • I don't think you need to go to the extent of enrolling for a second master's degree. Maybe you could ask if there are classes you could sit in on instead.
    – aeismail
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 14:26

Many PHd programs include a masters with them. So if you enroll in universtiy X and get Phd DD, you will earn Ms DD on your way to getting the PHd. A Phd without a dissertation is essentially a masters degree (when you compare the coursework).

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    This does not apply in Germany. You need to have a Master's to be allowed to start a PhD, and a PhD is only the dissertation and nothing else. (In fact, you can theoretically roll up to the university with your thesis in triplicate and 3 profs who have agreed to sit on your jury, and acquire a PhD without having any previous interaction with the university.)
    – nengel
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 2:40
  • DD means Doctor of Divinity where I'm from. Presumably that's not what you mean? Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 11:34
  • correct I meant it as a generic variable name like XX or YY
    – mk mcmahon
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 17:32

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