Should I Earn a Joint JD/MBA Degree?

Joint JD/MBA Degree Overview

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What Is a Joint JD/MBA Degree?

A Joint JD/MBA degree is a dual degree program that results in a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration degree. A Juris Doctor (short for Doctor of Jurisprudence) is the degree awarded to students who have successfully completed law school. This degree is necessary to gain admission to the bar and practice law in federal courts and most state courts. A Master of Business Administration (or MBA as it is more commonly known) is awarded to students who have completed a graduate-level business program.

An MBA is one of the most prestigious business degrees that can be earned. Most Fortune 500 CEOs have an MBA degree.

Where Can I Earn a Joint JD/MBA Degree?

The JD/MBA degree is typically offered jointly through law schools and business schools. Most of the top U.S. schools offer this option. A few examples include:

Program Length

The amount of time it takes to earn a Joint JD/MBA degree is dependent on the school you choose to attend. The average program takes four years of full-time study to complete. However, there are accelerated options available, such as the Columbia Three-Year JD/MBA Program.

Both the traditional option and the accelerated option demand a great deal of effort and motivation. Dual degree programs are rigorous and allow for little down time. Even in the summer, when you are away from school (assuming you are away as some schools require summer classes), you will be encouraged to participate in law and business internships so that you can apply what you have learned and gain real-world experience.

Other Business/Law Degree Options

A Joint JD/MBA isn't the only degree option for students who are interested in studying business and law at the graduate level. There are a number of business schools that offer an MBA program with a specialization in business law. These programs combine general business courses with law courses that address topics like business law, investment banking laws, mergers and acquisitions, contract law, and bankruptcy law.

Some schools also offer students the option of taking single legal courses or certificate-based programs that last just a few weeks. 

After completing a business law degree, certificate program, or single course, students may not be eligible to practice law, but they will be true business people who are well-versed in business law and legal topics--something that can be an asset in entrepreneurial pursuits and many management and business related jobs.

Careers for Joint JD/MBA Grads

Graduates with a Joint JD/MBA degree can practice law or pursue a job in business. An MBA can help lawyers secure a position with a law firm, and in some cases, may help the individual move up to partner faster than normal. Someone who practices business law can also benefit from understanding the management and financial concerns their clients face. A law degree can also help business professionals. Many CEOs have a JD. Knowledge of the legal system can also help entrepreneurs, managers, and small business owners and may be invaluable to management consultants.

Pros and Cons of a Joint JD/MBA Degree

As with any degree program or academic pursuit, there are pros and cons to a Joint JD/MBA degree. It is important to evaluate all of these advantages and disadvantages before making any final decisions.

  • Pro: A JD/MBA degree can be attractive to employers and can certainly be an advantage if you are interested in standing on top of the corporate ladder.
  • Pro: You can earn two prestigious, useful degrees in a short amount of time.
  • Pro: Having a foot in the legal world and a foot in the business world offers great flexibility. You can switch careers at any time.
  • Con: A JD/MBA degree is expensive. It will cost you at least $50,000 more than a business education (or law education) alone.
  • Con: An MBA program is demanding. A law school program is demanding. Combine them, and you have a challenging, rigorous curriculum that might be too much for some students to handle.
  • Con: There isn't any job that requires both of these degrees. Depending on your career path, a joint degree could be considered overkill.

    Applying to a Joint JD/MBA Program

    A Joint JD/MBA degree is best suited to students who are very sure of their career path and willing to invest in and show dedication to both disciplines. Admissions for dual programs are competitive. The admissions committee will scrutinize your application and your intentions. You should be able to explain why you are set on this degree path and be willing to back up your explanations with actions. Read more about applying to a JD/MBA program.

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    Schweitzer, Karen. "Should I Earn a Joint JD/MBA Degree?" ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2016, thoughtco.com/earn-a-joint-jd-mba-degree-466403. Schweitzer, Karen. (2016, March 3). Should I Earn a Joint JD/MBA Degree? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/earn-a-joint-jd-mba-degree-466403 Schweitzer, Karen. "Should I Earn a Joint JD/MBA Degree?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/earn-a-joint-jd-mba-degree-466403 (accessed January 18, 2018).