Is an MBA Joint Degree Right for You?

Due to an increasing demand for specialized education options, business schools are beginning to offer a greater variety of joint, dual, or concurrent programs. Many MBA applicants are looking to make themselves more attractive to selective employers by pursuing a degree that combines management capabilities with field-specific knowledge. Often, this involves an MBA being paired together with another graduate degree such as a law degree (JD), medical degree (MD), or doctorate degree (PhD).

Is a joint degree right for you? Collegiate Gateway is here to answer your questions, and equip you with the information you need.

What is a Joint Degree?

Sometimes referred to as a “concurrent” or “dual” degree, a joint degree is one in which a student enrolls simultaneously in two graduate programs, usually at the same school or at an affiliated university, and works towards two graduate degrees with the support of both programs. Some have a formal agreement to enable students to earn two degrees in an abbreviated period, while others even offer students the opportunity to create their own joint degree program. The University of Pennsylvania Law School, for example, allows its students to create their own programs with departments that do not have formal joint degree programs.

Importantly, students do not have to double their course load each semester while trying to complete a joint degree. Most programs allow students to focus on one degree at a time, and typically when a student takes courses in both programs, they are not expected to take more than a normal course load.

Joint degrees can be a combination of the following: law (JD), medicine (MD), doctorate (Ph.D or similar), professional masters (MPP, Ed.M), and academic masters. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the most popular MBA joint degree programs combine an MBA with the following:

  • Law
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Public Policy/Public Administration
  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • International studies

Is a Joint Program Right for You?

Before you consider applying, it is critically important to research the MBA joint program and come to a thorough understanding of why it would be best for you. Not only will this help you evaluate if the MBA joint degree is the best option, but it will also aid you immensely while writing your personal essay later on. Often, a good strategy is to look into the typical career paths that joint degree graduates usually pursue, and see if these careers are a good fit.

Everyone’s ambitions and circumstances are different, and there are various aspects to consider when weighing the pursuit of an MBA joint degree. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  • Competitive Advantage. Getting a dual degree may give you a competitive advantage in a specific field, as you would have a wider breadth of knowledge. No matter your intended profession, a strong foundation in business and management can only make you more appealing to employers and make it easier to transition to management or administration. However, if you simply want to practice in a particular field, it may not be necessary to pursue an MBA joint degree in order to be qualified to do so. For example, if you wish to practice non-corporate law, a JD degree will be sufficient, and an MBA may not be necessary. MBAs are designed for business management or administration, so if you do not intend to delve into these areas, an MBA joint degree may not the best choice for you.
  • Time Commitment. MBA joint degrees will most likely take a longer time to complete than a single graduate degree. While there may be programs that allow students to complete their degree in an abbreviated period, you should expect to stay in school longer. However, pursuing a dual degree is generally faster than pursuing degrees separately, as some courses fulfill requirements in both programs.
  • Cost. While getting an MBA joint degree would be more expensive than simply pursuing an MBA, it would be cheaper than getting a graduate degree, and then later deciding to obtain a second degree.
  • The Application Process. Typically, prospective students seeking an MBA joint degree have to complete two, or even three, applications. Students will most likely need to apply simultaneously to each graduate program, and possibly complete an additional application to the joint program itself. It is important to note that being accepted into a certain graduate program does not automatically qualify you, nor necessarily increase the likelihood of being accepted into the program with which it is paired. Acceptances into the graduate programs for a joint degree are decided separately. Applying to a less competitive program just to get into the counterpart program of a joint degree is not a recommended strategy.

Trends & Statistics of MBA joint degree programs

The various options of MBA joint degrees available has surged 54% over the past decade. However, according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which started collecting dual-degree enrollment data in 2005, the portion of MBA students enrolled in dual degree tracks has never risen above 1 percent. In fact, that percentage has shrunk, from about 0.9 percent of MBA students in 2005-06 to 0.7 percent in 2010-11.

The JD/MBA joint degree is one of the most common joint degrees, and looking at the number of students that apply for the degree may give some insight into the total number of students who ultimately choose to pursue an MBA joint degree. In the 2012 testing year, the GMAC found that only 2,364 people took the GMAT with the intention of pursuing a JD/MBA—down from 3,397 in 2009. These numbers do not account for the people who did not actually end up getting an MBA/JD.

GMAT Exams Taken by Potential

JD/MBA Applicants

Testing Year

2009

Testing Year

2010

Testing Year

2011

Testing Year

2012

Total 3397 3046 2351 2364
Non-US Citizens 943 805 529 629
US Citizens 2454 2241 1822 1735

 

JD/MBAs At Top Schools: A Rough Portrait JD/MBAs, Class of 2016 JD/MBAs, Total
Northwestern 27 70
U. Penn 14 45
Harvard 10 35
Stanford 21*
Columbia 15*
Duke 5*
UC Berkeley 1*
*Admissions’ estimate

Source: Poets & Quants

However, these numbers are not a proper indication that MBA joint degrees are on a decline. In fact, the decline may be due to a diversification of the types of MBA joint degrees now readily available, industry-specific factors, and other specialized degree offerings. In 2014, Poets & Quants found that MBA joint degrees were on the upswing. Schools such as Yale have seen an increase in MBA joint degree applicants—in 2014, Yale set a record for its percentage of MBA students taking joint degrees, with 15% adding another sheepskin to their business master’s, up from 14% the previous year. 

What kinds of MBA Joint Degrees are out there? What are the newest programs that I should be aware of?

In the last year, several top universities have added new joint degree offerings.

In September of 2014, The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership—the nation’s preeminent organization of its kind, based at Teachers College, Columbia University—teamed up with Columbia Business School and with INSEAD to launch innovative MA/MBA dual-degree programs.

In October 2014, Stanford Graduate School of Business announced that it launched a new dual-degree program, where students can study for an MBA and a MA in International Policy Studies simultaneously.

In September 2015, Boston University began offering an accelerated three-year joint JD/MBA degree program similar to those at Cornell, Yale, Penn, Columbia and a handful of other schools.

The School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University has formalized collaboration with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai to offer a dual Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program. The program began to enroll students in the fall of 2015.

There are many differing MBA joint degree programs available from universities across the country. Collegiate Gateway has compiled a comprehensive list of all the programs available. Feel free to contact us to learn more about these programs and to discuss if an MBA joint degree program may be right for you – we are here to help!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *