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GCAC-209

Concurrent Degrees

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Purpose

To define the conditions under which a graduate student may pursue a concurrent degree.

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Academic Goal

To ensure that pursuit of a concurrent degree:

  • is part of a well-balanced, unified and complete program of study related to the degree the student was admitted to pursue and/or supports related career goals;
  • does not threaten student success in the graduate degree program to which the student was originally admitted;
  • does not compromise the established academic standards of, substitute for, duplicate, or conflict with a graduate minor, Dual-Title Degree, Joint Degree, or Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree program.
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Scope

All graduate programs and graduate students.

It is generally recognized that graduate-level research and education involve advanced study in areas beyond those specifically identified in a single graduate degree program. Inter- or cross-disciplinary study may be achieved through several different models, including the Graduate Minor, Dual-Title Degree, and concurrent degrees. The option of pursuing a concurrent degree at the masters’ level exists to provide cross- or inter-disciplinary study in cases where a graduate minor is not sufficient and a Dual-Title program does not exist.

Head of the Graduate Program
Member of the Graduate Faculty with ultimate responsibility and academic authority for a graduate degree program. Refer to the Graduate Faculty Membership policy.
Home Degree Program
The graduate degree program into which the student was first or originally admitted.
Home Degree
The degree, in the home degree program, the student was admitted to pursue.
Home Program Adviser
The student’s graduate adviser in the home degree program.
Concurrent Degree
A second graduate degree (master’s only allowed) the student applies to pursue under this policy.
Concurrent Degree Program
The second graduate degree program a student already enrolled in a home degree program applies to pursue concurrently with the home degree program.
Culminating Experience:
  • For the Ph.D. the culminating experience is a dissertation;
  • For an M.A. or M.S. the culminating experience is a thesis or approved non-thesis option;
  • For professional degrees, the culminating experience may take other approved forms, including but not limited to an internship, an exhibition, a production, a comprehensive examination, or a capstone course.

Policy Statement

  1. Subject to the limitations described below, graduate students may simultaneously pursue two degrees offered by the Graduate School; this is formally described as “concurrent degrees.”
  2. Relationship to Dual-Title Degrees, Joint Degrees, Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Degrees, and research master’s degrees pursued in the same major and simultaneously as the Ph.D. (i.e. “master’s-along-the-way”):
    1. A student may pursue a concurrent degree only if they are not also participating in a Dual-Title Degree, Joint Degree, Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Degree, or research master’s degree pursued in the same major and simultaneously as the Ph.D. (i.e. “master’s-along-the-way”).
    2. A student already pursuing a concurrent degree may not be accepted into a Dual-Title Degree, Joint Degree, or Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Degree Program without first withdrawing from the concurrent degree program.
    3. A master’s-along-the-way is not considered a concurrent degree under this policy. Students who enroll in a master’s-along-the-way may participate in dual-title and joint degrees following the standards defined in the relevant policies. However, students pursuing a master’s-along-the-way may apply to complete a Concurrent Degree as doctoral students only after they receive their master’s degree.
  3. Allowed Concurrent Degrees:
    1. An individual may pursue only one concurrent graduate degree at the University and will not be eligible for additional concurrent degrees at any time.
    2. A student pursuing a concurrent degree may not also pursue a graduate minor if it duplicates or significantly overlaps with either the concurrent or the home degree program.
    3. Concurrent graduate degrees are allowed only for two master’s degrees (e.g., two M.S. degrees; an M.A. and an M.F.A.; etc.) or a doctorate and a master’s degree (e.g., a Ph.D. and an M.B.A.; a D.Ed. and an M.I.A.; etc.). Doctoral degrees cannot be pursued concurrently, including any combination of research and professional doctoral degrees, such as but not limited to the Ph.D., D.Ed., D.M.A., D.N.P., D.P.H. or S.J.D. degrees (see GCAC-307 Concurrent or Second Doctorates).
  4. Student Eligibility:
    1. Students applying to a concurrent degree must have an already appointed home degree adviser.
    2. Students applying to a concurrent degree must be academically strong in their home degree program. This includes a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA in courses taken as a graduate student at Penn State.
    3. Students applying to a concurrent degree must meet the admission standards of the concurrent degree program.
    4. Students must be officially admitted to the concurrent degree program prior to substantial completion of the home degree. Specifically, students in master’s or professional doctoral degree programs must be officially admitted to a concurrent degree prior to having accumulated 80% or more of the credits required for the home degree and prior to their final semester in the home degree. Research doctorate (Ph.D.) students must be officially admitted to the concurrent degree program prior to scheduling the comprehensive examination in the Ph.D. program.
  5. Concurrent Degree Adviser
    1. Prior to applying to a concurrent degree, the student must have identified an adviser in the concurrent degree program who agrees to advise and supervise the student’s concurrent degree work. The concurrent degree program adviser may not be the same individual as the student’s adviser in the home degree program.
  6. Overlapping Concurrent and Home Degree Requirements
    1. The specific culminating experience of the home and concurrent degree programs must each be separately fulfilled. No elements of either culminating experience may be shared or double-counted.
    2. To ensure that the integrity of the home and concurrent degrees is preserved, each program may accept no more than 20% of its total required credits for the degree from the other degree program. The proposed credits to be double-counted for each degree must be clearly specified in the plan of study, and are subject to approval by each program.
      1. Either program may choose not to accept any credits from the other degree program in fulfillment of its own degree requirements.

Process

  1. Students wishing to pursue a concurrent degree must submit to both the home and concurrent degree programs a plan of study providing a compelling rationale for the pursuit of the concurrent degree and a comprehensive plan for completing the concurrent and home degrees.
    1. The plan of study must explain why the student’s home degree research or education goals, or related career goals require inter- or cross-disciplinary graduate study so extensive that a graduate minor is insufficient and a concurrent degree is appropriate.
    2. The plan must:
      1. Identify the student’s proposed concurrent degree adviser.
      2. Include a credible timetable for completing all required course work and culminating experiences for both the home and concurrent degree programs, in a time-period not exceeding 8 years total for both degrees.
      3. Indicate which credits will count towards the home program degree requirements, which will count towards the concurrent degree requirements, and which will be double counted towards both.
      4. Acknowledge that extended time to complete both degrees may require the student to self-fund additional semesters of enrollment, with the understanding that the home degree program/adviser has no obligation to provide financial support for concurrent degree costs and student expenses.

Procedure

P1 - Approval of a Concurrent Degree Proposal and Integrated Study Plan

P2 - Adding a Master's-Along-the-Way

Forms

insert_drive_file Concurrent Graduate Degree Programs Plan of Study (PDF) / (DOCX)

Further Information

Concurrent Degrees - FAQs

Revision History

  • Approved by Graduate Council, March 16, 2022. Effective date: Fall 2022 (8/15/2022)
    • Policy revised extensively. Major changes include reducing the minimum GPA requirement for students to enter a concurrent degree from 3.5 to 3.2, extending the deadline to be admitted from 75% of credits required for the home degree to 80%, and establishing a limit of 8 years for completion of both degrees.
  • Approved by Graduate Council, February 17, 2016.
    • Policy revised extensively.
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