The J.D./M.B.A. Degree

Law School Podcaster and MBA Podcaster Team Up To Take A Closer Look At This Popular Joint Program: The JD/MBA Degree

With rising graduate school tuition costs, and an uncertain job market, there’s a lot of interest in joint J.D./M.B.A programs. More schools each year offer more options for pursuing the dual degree. So, Law School Podcaster and MBA Podcaster teamed up to bring you an entire show devoted to J.D./M.B.A. programs – “Deciding Whether To Pursue a J.D. and an M.B.A.: When It Makes Sense To Go ‘Two-for-One.’” In this segment, we take a close look at everything from the different types of programs, to the appeal of such programs, to what types of career opportunities are out there for those holding the joint degree.

Host Althea Legaspi gets things started by looking at how different schools might handle the application and admission process. She spoke with David E. Van Zandt, Dean of Northwestern University School of Law, who created the first three-year joint J.D./M.B.A. program in the nation. He outlined the application process at Northwestern Law and The Kellogg School of Management. “Ours is unique in that it’s a ‘fully integrated 3 year program,’ in which the student gets both the J.D. degree, which qualifies them to sit for the bar in any state in the country and an M.B.A. from Kellogg. It’s integrated in the sense there is a single application separate from either the M.B.A. or J.D. application, and you don’t have to get accepted by both schools, you just have to get accepted into the program. We accept the GMAT, and you are required to give us the GMAT score; you are not required to give us the LSAT. We also do financial aid on a ‘fully integrated’ basis, which means that ‘if you get a financial aid award, it is from the program itself.’”

The University of Pennsylvania Law School and The Wharton School also launched a 3 year condensed J.D./M.B.A. program in the Fall of 2009, in addition to the 4 year joint program previously offered. The new accelerated J.D./M.B.A. program is seven semesters squeezed into three years, including one summer semester between the first two years. Edward B. Rock, of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, The Saul A. Fox Distinguished Professor of Business Law and Co-Director of Institute for Law and Economics at Wharton, is the architect of the new 3 year program and he explains that applicants to the joint degree program at Penn have to satisfy admission requirements at both the law school and the business school. “In our program, you have to be admitted separately to the law school and to the Wharton School, so the law school requires the LSAT, and Wharton requires the GMAT or the GRE.” No easy feat to accomplish both, but Rock points out that if you can, you graduate holding a joint degree with “valuable advantages in the marketplace.”

Van Zandt and Rock highlighted some of the advantages and the limitations of the J.D./M.B.A. programs, and it’s clear that these programs are not for the faint-hearted. Dean Van Zandt acknowledges the Northwestern/Kellogg program is “pretty intense, you’re in school for 22 straight months.” The joint program at Penn Law and Wharton is also “very concentrated” and “tightly focused.” Rock explains that while the 3 year route has its advantages, there are ‘clearly limits’ and a ‘cost in that sense in the focus.’”

Stay tuned and listen to the full show to hear more.

We’ll have another post about some of the ways a J.D./M.B.A. can impact your career goals, featuring some highlights from our conversation with the Directors/Deans of Career Services at NYU Law School and Stern School of Business, a client partner at Korn Ferry International and some words of wisdom from two recent graduates from J.D./M.B.A. program on how the dual degree helped shape their careers.