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Can I earn a second degree while still enrolled in my current program?

Question 

Dear Deans,

I am a graduate student entering my second year at Cornell. I was wondering whether I can earn a second MS or MEng degree in other fields while I am still in my current program. If possible, what is the requirement and how can I do that? Do I need to send an application?

I would really appreciate your help!

Looking forward your reply.

Best,

Degree-seeking Graduate Student


Response

Dear Degree-seeking Student,

While it's not possible to enroll in more than one Cornell degree program at the same time outside of a recognized dual-degree program, it's common in some graduate fields for a PhD student to be awarded a MS or MA degree at the time they successfully pass the Admission to Candidacy exam (also known as the "A Exam").  This is often called a "special masters" or "non-thesis masters" because it does not require that a master's thesis be written or defended.  This is not done in all fields, and it's only available when the special committee and field both approve.

There are pairs of graduate fields that have an arrangement to allow PhD students to earn a non-thesis master's degree a minor field.  For example, a PhD student in the fields of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Information Science or Statistics may apply to earn a non-thesis master's degree in  Computer Science if they meet the requirements described here:  https://www.cs.cornell.edu/phd/specialmasters.  I'm not aware of any similar arrangements for the field of Biophysics but you could talk to your DGS or field faculty to see whether it would be academically appropriate.  The Graduate School has information we can share but the faculty of both fields will need to agree that the curriculum and requirements can be reasonably aligned.

I hope this is helpful!

Sincerely,

Jason

Jason Kahabka, Associate Dean for Administration