Additional Degree Pursuit at the Same or Lower Academic Level

Additional Degree Pursuit at the Same or Lower Academic Level

Excelsior University encourages students to progress to higher degrees whenever possible. However, recognizing that life and career goals change over time, Excelsior University, in accordance with New York State Education Department guidelines, permits students who already hold one degree to earn additional degrees at the same or a lower academic level in a different academic program, within certain parameters. Academic programs are considered different if they represent a significant amount of additional coursework in a separate field. It is at the discretion of Excelsior University to determine if the degrees in question will be considered substantially different academic programs. Degrees that are acceptable may depend on the content and not necessarily the degree program title. For this policy, the academic levels are associate, baccalaureate, and graduate.


Undergraduate Degree Programs

Students holding an associate or baccalaureate degree seeking an additional degree at the same or a lower academic level are permitted to pursue an additional degree in a different academic program. For nursing degree programs, students may only be awarded one undergraduate degree per level (associate and bachelors).

Graduate Degree Programs

Students holding a graduate degree seeking a degree at the same or lower academic level are permitted to pursue an additional graduate degree in a different academic program. They are also permitted to pursue an undergraduate degree in the same academic program as the graduate degree; however, the credits from the completed graduate degree will not apply toward the lower-level degree. (See policy Grade Scale, GPA, and Credit Application for details.) As an exception to this policy, students may pursue more than one Master of Science in Nursing, selecting a different program for each degree.

For all academic levels, if a student's completed degree is in a liberal arts or business discipline, the student is permitted to pursue additional degrees at the same or lower academic level in the same academic program if the degree is in a substantially different concentration or major at Excelsior University. If the completed degree was in liberal arts (i.e., no major) the student must select a specific concentration or major for the additional degree.

The following conditions govern the earning of all additional degrees:

  1. Under this policy, “completed degrees” are college degrees earned from an institutionally accredited college or university or the foreign equivalent, if the following criterion are met:
    • The institution was accredited at the time of the student’s attendance by an accrediting body, the institution is listed in the US Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (, and the institution awarded college-level degrees at the time of the individual student’s attendance.

    Exception: Applicants to graduate nursing degree programs must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by one of the following accrediting bodies: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (Senior and Junior Colleges), or the foreign equivalent.

  2. It is the student's responsibility to inform the University of any degree earned at another institution prior to or during enrollment at Excelsior University; this may affect the student’s degree eligibility status at Excelsior. Students in degree programs they are not eligible to pursue will be required to transfer to a different degree program or withdraw from the University. The Academic Integrity policy applies to this condition.

  4. Enrollment in an additional degree program is contingent upon receipt of an official transcript showing conferral of completed degree.

  6. Up to three-quarters of the total number of credits required for the additional degree may be comprised of previously earned credit, including credit applied to a previously completed undergraduate degree program. Credit from post-baccalaureate degree programs may be applied toward the additional degree as appropriate, per the guidelines outlined in the Grade Scale, GPA, and Credit Application policy.
    At least one quarter of the credits required for the new degree must be new credits completed after the additional degree academic policy date. These new credits must be unrelated to the academic program of the completed degree.

  8. Conditions governing the level and subject of the new credit vary from degree to degree. Students may need to take more than the minimum number of new credits to complete the degree, depending upon the degree requirements.

  10. There are restrictions on the types and amounts of grants and loans available to students that have already earned a baccalaureate degree or a first professional degree and are pursuing an additional degree. Students should refer to the Guide to Federal Student Aid published by the U.S. Department of Education. Students may also wish to consult the Excelsior University Financial Aid Office for further information.