If you are thinking about applying to law school, you have probably come across law schools offering several J.D. joint degrees.
One of the most popular J.D. joint degrees is the J.D./MBA. This program is offered at basically every university with both a law school and a business school. Applicants are attracted to the ever-present intersection of business and law throughout the global economy.
Today, we’ll talk about J.D./MBA programs, how they work, and why you should or shouldn’t pursue one.
A recap on how J.D. joint degrees work
J.D. joint degrees are programs offered at many law schools through which a law student can earn an additional graduate degree in concurrence with their J.D. studies. Some joint J.D. programs can be completed in three years while most require an additional year.
Applying to J.D./MBA programs
There is almost always a separate application process for joint J.D. degree programs, and the J.D./MBA is no different. To get into this selective degree program, you must apply to both the business school and law school, get accepted into the law school and the business school, and then apply for the joint program. If you are in your 1L year, you would still have to apply and be accepted into the business school to pursue the joint degree.
Because you are applying to two separate schools, you need to consider each of their admissions requirements. Law school admissions and business school admissions are more critical of joint degree applicants because they want to be sure the student would be equally interested in both curriculums.
One of the results of this scrutiny is the size of the top J.D./MBA programs are. Northwestern Law School has 27 JD/MBAs in the Class of 2016, Stanford Law School has around 21 total, University of Pennsylvania Law School has 14 in the Class of 2016 and 45 total, and Harvard Law School has 10 in the Class of 2016 class and 35 overall. While this can be seen as the result of a high admissions standards, it should also be considered that there aren’t many applicants to these programs in the first place. Keep reading to find out why.
What is studying for a J.D./MBA like?
J.D./MBA students usually spend their first year like a regular 1L, their second year dedicated to business school, and their final two years working on requirements for both. Given this combination of two difficult curriculums, your classmates will likely be the intellectual type. The good thing is that J.D./MBA programs encourage deep thinking and thorough exploration of topics.
While you will be exploring many things in the classroom, you may find yourself short on time to stay in involved in law school or business school extracurriculars. Another potential setback is the complications of forming relationships during the program considering you will be going back and forth between schools. But the relationships you form with the other J.D./MBA students will be extra strong from the shared experience of working through the difficult program.
Why should you consider pursuing one?
We mentioned the increasing value of understanding both business and law, and the fact that J.D./MBA programs give you training in both in three to four years versus five years is a great selling point for such programs. Because of this, pursuing the dual degree will save you at least one year of tuition.
But besides time and money, students pursue J.D./MBA programs to be flexible and competitive in their careers. Although students in the program might lean more to the J.D. side of things or the MBA curriculum, every student sees that having knowledge of the other degree will make them more competitive in the workforce. Someone who leans toward the J.D., for example, could be a policy maker in Washington who wants to have the business credentials that his lawyer colleagues lack. An example of a more business minded J.D./MBA student could be someone who came from a private sector background but works with lawyers all the time and wants to better understand the law that applies to their business.
It is likely that having a J.D./MBA will increase your earning potential. Some law firms give bonuses or higher salaries to associates that hold dual degrees.
Why shouldn’t you consider pursuing one?
You need to carefully consider your career goals and degrees are necessary to achieve them. Almost no job absolutely requires a J.D./MBA and there are plenty of corporate lawyers who didn’t go to business school as well as law school.
Even if you have decided a joint degree is necessary for your career path, you still need to consider the cost and difficulty of a joint degree program. Although a J.D./MBA degree saves you money compared to doing both degrees separately, it still costs more than just one or the other. If you are questioning whether or not you can afford law school alone, maybe you shouldn’t be looking at a program that costs even more.
In addition to the extra cost of attendance, you need to consider your opportunity costs, or what you give up by staying in school an extra few years. Getting a J.D./MBA often means even more time out of the workforce.
If you decide to pursue the degree, the difficulty of a joint degree begins with the application, which, as discussed above, is a multistep process with tough odds at every turn. Once into the program, you will not only be taking difficult law classes on subjects relatively new to you but also classes your other degree, which at the graduate level will be no walk in the park either.
Overall, the J.D./MBAs are rare. The basic reasons why is that while there are many students interested in the intersection of law and business, there are not many who are up to getting full training in both fields. For those who are up to the challenge, they face difficult admission criteria, higher costs, and a difficult curriculum. Many find it worth it, however, and reap the benefits in career flexibility and compensation.
So, is the J.D./MBA for you? Only you can answer that, but we hope that we helped!
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