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Thread: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

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    Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

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    I will be attending graduate school this Fall, for Economics PhD. For my undergraduate, I majored in Economics & Mathematics, and minored in Computer Science.

    I found computer science very interesting and helpful when I minored in it. I was interesting in pursuing my education for computer science. Is it possible to complete an undergraduate major/degree, while being in a PhD program? I know the school I am going to does allow you to take undergraduate classes.

    Perhaps this question is too dependent on the school I go to, and I should directly ask them. But otherwise, is this something ever done?

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    If you do an entire undergraduate degree, wouldn't that mean you have to take a bunch of general education, electives, and distributional classes as well? Is there a reason why you need the degree (as opposed to just taking whatever # of CS courses interest you and fit your schedule w/o officially getting a 2nd degree)?

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    You mean you want to complete the classes to have a full major in Computer Science? I can see administrative problems. First, you'll have to get special permission to take classes at the undergrad level. That's usually fine for a single upper level undergrad course in something you are interested in. Languages tend to be viewed favorably (more-so in the past, indeed many programs required a kind of minor in a foreign language), I can't see why a class in comp science couldn't be argued to be a kind of language.

    However, to get to complete 30 or so credits, you'd need to be taking a couple of extra classes each semester after first year. The problem with that is that you could run into needing permission to take an overload of "work" if you have a TAship too. You won't get those routinely passed. After you have done your required work in the PhD program, you could maybe do a couple of full comp sci semesters but likely you'dd have to pay for them yourself and that would come at a huge cost to your research and your ability to squeeze in the classes around your other commitments is likely limited.

    Indeed, I'd be surprised if you could make it all fit either way. Your teaching and office hour requirements, in-house and visiting speaker seminars, advisor meetings, plus your classes, would probably leave you conflicted with crucial classes you need to complete a comp sci major.

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    It seems more possible to get a masters honestly. So long as there is a non-thesis option, or you can do an econ like thesis.

    Even if you could work it out, this doesn't seem like a good use of time.

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhDPlease View Post
    If you do an entire undergraduate degree, wouldn't that mean you have to take a bunch of general education, electives, and distributional classes as well? Is there a reason why you need the degree (as opposed to just taking whatever # of CS courses interest you and fit your schedule w/o officially getting a 2nd degree)?
    I am completely unsure about what general education, electives, and distributional classes I would have to take, or what would be transferred over.

    There is no particular reason why I would need an actual degree though - simply taking the courses that I feel would be beneficial are the top priority. It just felt it could be useful to perhaps take an extra class or two and get a degree out of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tm_member View Post
    You mean you want to complete the classes to have a full major in Computer Science? I can see administrative problems. First, you'll have to get special permission to take classes at the undergrad level. That's usually fine for a single upper level undergrad course in something you are interested in. Languages tend to be viewed favorably (more-so in the past, indeed many programs required a kind of minor in a foreign language), I can't see why a class in comp science couldn't be argued to be a kind of language.

    However, to get to complete 30 or so credits, you'd need to be taking a couple of extra classes each semester after first year. The problem with that is that you could run into needing permission to take an overload of "work" if you have a TAship too. You won't get those routinely passed. After you have done your required work in the PhD program, you could maybe do a couple of full comp sci semesters but likely you'dd have to pay for them yourself and that would come at a huge cost to your research and your ability to squeeze in the classes around your other commitments is likely limited.

    Indeed, I'd be surprised if you could make it all fit either way. Your teaching and office hour requirements, in-house and visiting speaker seminars, advisor meetings, plus your classes, would probably leave you conflicted with crucial classes you need to complete a comp sci major.
    I already spoke to the graduate director of my university about taking undergraduate classes. It's perfectly fine, and common. It just must be done after the first year. So, I am not too concerned with getting those special permissions.

    Now, I would wonder how many credits I would have to take. Since I already have credits from my undergraduate, could that possibly transfer? I do not think it's possible to get this degree starting from scratch. I would plan, at most, 1 non-eco-PhD class per semester from year 2 -> 5; giving 8 semester, so 8 classes. If I was short by a class or two, throw in a few summer sessions.

    The time conflicts would be very variable, and hard to predict right now, but could pose a large problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by YaSvoboden View Post
    It seems more possible to get a masters honestly. So long as there is a non-thesis option, or you can do an econ like thesis.

    Even if you could work it out, this doesn't seem like a good use of time.
    Wouldn't that require applying to the masters program, hoping to get in, and then paying tuition?

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    I've heard of people who got MSc in finance, math, and cs during their phd econ programs. Some Programs just allow you to take grad courses from other fields. The people I know already had master in econ though.
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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    Quote Originally Posted by Metapontum View Post
    Wouldn't that require applying to the masters program, hoping to get in, and then paying tuition?
    Not in the schools that I have attended. Your tuition waver will probably cover whatever courses you take and you would just need to enroll in classes and take them. This may require permission, but I doubt it would be hard to get. Once you complete the requirements, just apply for the degree.

    As you mention though, this is only even in the realm of good ideas if you are taking most of the courses anyway. An extra course or two may be worth it to show another degree, but an extra masters when you already have a PhD probably won't do much for you.

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    I think you really have to ask an adviser at your specific university. At my undergrad, unless you were a transfer student (which you wouldn't be), you could receive a maximum of 1 semester worth of credits for previously-completed coursework... so that would still leave you with 3.5 years worth of coursework given that the BA is 4 years. In contrast, a Masters is usually 1-2 years, so I could see how it is more feasible for a student to complete an extra masters in the PhD program, especially if a few classes can overlap or double-count. But policies regarding credits really vary a lot from school to school, so I think you have to ask someone at your specific school.

    IMO I agree with ^ that the extra master's (or BA) won't do that much beyond what a PhD would do for you. If you're going to be taking most of the courses anyway, it is always nice to get a degree for it. But if it would require a lot of extra classes that you wouldn't otherwise take, I wouldn't go for the degree, and instead would just take the specific courses that would benefit you even if you don't get the degree out of it. Remember you will be very, very busy as a PhD student. You should definitely take courses that will help you develop skills to achieve your goals, but any courses you take that aren't required and aren't essential will take away time from important things like research.

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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    Is there some reason why you would specifically want an undergrad degree rather than a masters? It is reasonably common for economics PhD students to get masters degrees in statistics, and I see no reason why you couldn't do the same with computer science. You shouldn't have to apply separately or pay for it since your tuition waiver would cover your coursework.

    However, you are probably better off just taking whatever classes you are interested in.
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    Re: Undergraduate Degree while in Graduate School?

    You can probably do it, but there seems absolutely no sensible reason to do this.

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