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Programs 2 phds?

  1. Oct 2, 2008 #1
    this might seem like a silly question but can you get a phd at a mediocre school and then apply for another one at a better school? is this completely unheard of? illegal? seems like getting one phd is really good preparation for getting another so someone who does that should be very appealing to an admissions committee?
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  3. Oct 2, 2008 #2
    It would be pointless. You'd be far better off getting a post-doc.
  4. Oct 2, 2008 #3


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    No, I don't agree with this. By doing a PhD in a subject area you are working to becoming an expert in that small, specific area. Why, then, would you do another in a different area? Remind me of the saying 'jack of all trades, master of none.'
  5. Oct 2, 2008 #4


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    I don't see too much point in trying to do a second PhD - especially if you want to stay in the same general area. Once you've finished one, you (should) have the basic skill set to perform original research in your area of choice. And if you want to change focus areas, that's possible without going back to school. Not everyone ends up doing a post-doc in exactly the same field they did their PhD in anyway.
  6. Oct 2, 2008 #5
    Why on earth would you spend a couple more years making < $20k doing a research project when having a Ph.D. allows you to earn much more for doing the same research project?

    Honestly it's a waste of time, and also someone pursuing a second Ph.D. looks incapable of starting their own research program, proving that both degrees were worthless.
  7. Oct 2, 2008 #6


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    Wouldn't 2*PhDs be a paradox (sorry you have to read it out load )
  8. Oct 2, 2008 #7


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    I've never heard of a reputable university in the sciences or engineering that would accept into their PhD program an applicant who already had a PhD. Take a look at the admissions requirements of a few schools to confirm this if you like.

    I agree with you that getting a PhD qualifies you to earn another, but that's undesirable for both schools. The first school is not placing their graduate in any important position, and the second school couldn't expect to mold the person in the school's own style because that person has already been trained. Finally, most PhDs don't have the stamina to work that hard again for such an incremental reward.

    As Manchot stated, the normal course of action is to post-doc at the better school, which can potentially be favorable for all parties.
  9. Oct 2, 2008 #8
    you guys give the silliest reasons but it being unfeasible. what if i don't care about making less than 20k a year, what if i do have the stamina to keep working at that level? there is no education like the kind you'll get working directly under an expert in the field - something you can only get by being their student.

    it's not like most undergrads come in with any kind of relevant experience anyway. the first phd demonstrates that you have the work ethic and abilities, which is what admissions want isn't it?
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2008
  10. Oct 2, 2008 #9
    There was a fellow whose Dad left him a small fortune which he could draw from while in college. He earned 27 degrees over 40 years: Never leaving college. I don't know if any were graduate degrees but I wouldn't doubt it. That is a possible motivation.
  11. Oct 2, 2008 #10
    Yes its possible. Over here most of our Engineering staff members and Professors have dual PhD from their homeland and another one obtained over here in the States. We got Turkish, Chinese, Indian and Iranian professors with dual PhD here in California.

    There is a Chinese Professor that has a degree in Physics in Beijing Normal University and another here in Berkley and is doing just fine in teaching here in Southern California. Another guy over here is Indian but he doesn't have a degree from the states, he graduated from India Institute of Technology and is teaching courses in the department in Electrical Engineering in San Diego right now, as long as you can do the job effectively and professionally no one really cares in what kinda institution you'd studied from.
  12. Oct 2, 2008 #11
    That's the point of a postdoc - to broaden one's horizons (if so desired) by working more closely with an expert in the field, more as a junior colleague than a student (ideally). They don't need to instill the sorts of things one should pick up as a grad student since you've already had those experiences. Any courses you take/audit are for your own edification and benefit, not because of some program requirements.

    Of course, I am of the opinion you couldn't pay me enough to do another Ph.D., my tolerance for being a grad student is shot. :)
  13. Oct 3, 2008 #12
    Ok you're going to have to provide some evidence of this.

    Also, I've heard of universities who allow people with PhD's to get a second. My alma mater does for engineering I know for a fact, and it was a fairly well-regarded program with a lot of headhunting by big companies.
  14. Oct 3, 2008 #13
    Some schools have explicit rules, some don't. UC Berkeley, for example, has a rule that someone with a Ph.D. cannot be accepted into another Ph.D. program without the department first petitioning the administration for an exception to the rule. I have no idea if these exceptions are granted routinely or not, but I would guess that the problem doesn't come up terribly often.

    As to why someone would do this... well, what if you get bored with your first field after a decade or two? ;-)

    However, most of the advice I've heard is to just look for a post-doc...
  15. Oct 3, 2008 #14
    I think that there might be good reasons to get multiple graduate degrees, but I hardly see the point of getting two PhDs.

    For instance, someone could get a BS in Physics, teach at a High School, get a Master's in education, and then go back to school for a PhD in Physics.

    Or someone could get a MD, then decide to go into administration and get an MBA.

    I honestly think in most cases, if you are interested in another field, you would be a lot better served just taking a couple of classes, or maybe getting a bachelors, unless you have a trust fund and want to be able to impress people with your two Doctoral degrees.
  16. Oct 3, 2008 #15

    Vanadium 50

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    That sounds suspiciously like the plot of Zelazny's Doorways In The Sand. Can you point me towards some documentation of this in real life?
  17. Oct 3, 2008 #16
    i like being in school. it's that simple
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  18. Oct 3, 2008 #17
    Then become a professor. :smile:
  19. Oct 3, 2008 #18
    Getting two PhDs is absolutely ridiculous. Once you've earned one, you are more than able to learn whatever you need to know on your own. You don't need to be enrolled in a PhD program to learn new subjects. If you enjoy the university atmosphere so much, go into academia. Of course, this is assuming you're after two PhDs in similar or related fields. If you want a PhD in physics and another in Comparative Literature, well, that's a different story. However, it sounds like you haven't met a guy I know called Real Life.

    Finally, it sounds to me like you are not sure that you will be able to get into a top PhD program within your field, and you believe that if you obtain a PhD at a mid-level institution, you'd be able to leverage that into a top-tier PhD program. That's a waste of time - just get into the best school you can and excel. You can try to step up in tier as a post-doc after you've kicked some ***.
  20. Oct 3, 2008 #19

    George Jones

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    Malcom Ludvigsen, artist and author of a deceptively sophisticated book on general relativity, has two Ph.Ds (Newcastle and Pittsburgh).

    "When I'm not painting, I'm a professor of mathematics. I have an international reputation for my work in relativity, black holes, and cosmology. I'm author of quite well known book on general relativity." From

  21. Oct 3, 2008 #20
    I'll come at a different angle. Do you think it's ethical for you to try to take up a PhD spot when you already have a PhD? Personally, if I found out that someone who already has a math PhD was admitted over me, I would be furious.

    I don't quite see what the point of 2 PhD's is? OK so you like being in school, so maybe being a postdoc does not appeal to you. But why would anyone justify giving you funding?

    To me, do whatever the hell you want, I don't care, nobody else here cares either really. But I just do not see the reasoning behind two PhDs? Is this so your 2nd PhD will be at somewhere really top notch? I don't quite see it.
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