For many, a JD/MBA degree is the perfect way to pursue all of their academic interests while obtaining a degree that can put them at the forefront of the job application pool. However, despite some advantages, a JD/MBA dual degree program doesn't come without its drawbacks—some of which may be dealbreakers for a student considering this type of program.
In this article, we'll be discussing the pros and cons of a JD/MBA degree. We'll also be giving you some ideas about careers that are especially suited to holders of this degree, and will leave you with some tips on applying to a JD/MBA program.
The Basics of a JD/MBA Degree
As you may already know, a JD/MBA degree is a dual degree program that allows the student to earn both a Juris Doctor degree and a Masters of Business Administration degree at the same time; some programs are accelerated to allow students to graduate in a more traditional 3 years, but others will require students to be enrolled for 4, or even 5, years.
A student in a JD/MBA program will likely spend their first year entirely in the law school, their second year entirely in the business school, and the rest of their time completing requirements for both programs. Depending on the program, either summer classes or pursuit of summer employment may also be required.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to a JD/MBA program that you should fully consider before enrolling in such a program. Understanding the pros and cons of a degree like this will help you make the most informed choice and prevent you from being overwhelmed by any aspect of your chosen program.
Advantages of a JD/MBA
These advantages are what make a JD/MBA degree worthwhile and can be great reasons to pursue this type of degree.
Increased Networking Opportunities
Because you will be a student of both the law school and the business school, you will be able to access different events held at these schools. You will also interact with a larger group of peers and professors on a daily basis and be able to speak to job recruiters through both schools. This means that your overall opportunities for networking and building meaningful professional and academic relationships are increased with a JD/MBA degree, and if you really know how to take advantage of these opportunities, you could end up with a very bright professional future.
More Employment Options
The JD/MBA degree is fairly versatile, as it allows you to work in the legal field, the business field, or a career that places emphasis on both. You won't need to limit your focus on job applications to just one career type, and you may even be able to pursue things like entrepreneurship, as you will have a good understanding of both business and legal knowledge that can help you succeed in this field.
Potential for Less Litigation Work
Less litigation work can be seen either as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your personality. For some, courtroom drama is the last thing they want to deal with, so an in-house legal position is preferred. A JD/MBA can help put you at the front of the applications for a job like this, as many in-house positions focus on matters of transactions and business law. If you know that you want to avoid litigation as much as possible during your career, the JD/MBA might be a great option for you.
Higher Overall Salary
Careers that require either a JD or an MBA degree already pay fairly high salaries, especially compared to other lines of work, and having a dual JD/MBA degree can help you bargain that salary up even higher.
If you know how to market yourself and how to leverage your education when negotiating your salary, you have the possibility of adding a significant amount to your yearly take-home pay. This factor is what makes the JD/MBA degree so tempting for many students.
Can Make You Stand Out
Even if an employer doesn't necessarily need you to have both a JD and an MBA, it is something that makes you stand out among other applicants. Obtaining a dual JD/MBA takes serious commitment, organizational skills, and determination; an employer is likely to recognize this in your application and may be more willing to hire you over a candidate who only obtained a JD or an MBA individually.
Disadvantages of a JD/MBA
The downsides of a JD/MBA degree should be fully considered in order to prevent unhappiness or burnout while pursuing your education.
Extremely Intensive Program
One of the most well-known disadvantages of a JD/MBA program is how much work it takes to complete the degree. Classes are highly intensive, and you will need to demonstrate extraordinary time management and organizational skills in order to stay on top of things, especially when you are taking both business classes and law classes in the same semester.
The intensity of a JD/MBA is only increased by an accelerated 3-year program, and the work required is often the thing that puts most students off of pursuing this type of dual degree.
Longer Time Spent in School
If you don't enroll in a JD/MBA program that is condensed into 3 years, it is likely that you will end up spending 4, or maybe even 5, full years in school, in addition to any summer classes that are required. This is a fairly long time commitment, especially when a traditional MBA can usually be obtained in 2 years and a JD degree can be obtained in 3 years.
Many students shy away from a JD/MBA program simply due to the fact that it can take too long to complete and doesn't fit in with their life plans.
Possible Underutilization of Education
Even though a JD/MBA degree can open up many doors and provide you with versatility when searching for employers, you may find that you end up in a career that places heavy emphasis on only one side of your degree. This can lead to an underutilization of the other side of your knowledge, be it business or law, which can end up with you following a career path that only focuses on that one aspect of your degree you have experience with; this means that your JD/MBA program didn't make that much difference in the long run.
To avoid situations like these, you should search for a career that lets you be actively involved in both legal and business work, in order to make the most of your education. We will be discussing some careers like that below.
Higher Program Cost
The extra time you spend in school will add additional costs to your degree that you wouldn't have to pay if you pursued a traditional degree. And because you are technically attending 2 different schools with 2 different sets of graduation requirements, the cost of the JD/MBA can be much higher overall.
You may also find that the loans you take out will start to accrue interest while you are in school, adding another downside onto the financial burden of the JD/MBA; the longer you are in school obtaining your degree, the longer it is likely to take for you to pay off your loans.
Potential Missed Opportunities
While there are more opportunities in general and more chances for networking with a JD/MBA, you may find yourself balancing on a thin line between both schools, trying to make time for both the law and the business side of your degree.
It is common that events will be held on the same day, or that you will be offered on-campus positions in journals or clinics around the same time, forcing you to make a decision which one is most important to you—law or business. Many students feel like they are being asked to be in two places at once, which can be highly stressful as you try to make the most of your education.
Additionally, you may find yourself interviewing with law employers while you are taking mostly business classes or vice versa, resulting in having to explain why you maybe haven't met certain requirements that traditional students may have. This has the potential to create missed opportunities, as employers decide you haven't reached the right requirements for being hired.
Career Options for a JD/MBA Degree Holder
These career options are good choices for anyone with a dual JD/MBA degree, as they place a focus on both legal and business work at the same time.
One of the best uses of a JD/MBA degree, entrepreneurship and business ownership requires knowledge of both technical business and legal knowledge. This can be a great career option for someone who is a self-starter and wants to create their own business without placing too much reliance on outside experts.
Another great option for holders of the JD/MBA degree, business law refers to in-house positions and other careers that deal with mergers, white-collar crime, and real estate law. It is a great compromise for someone with a love of business and law, and is often the career that most students want to pursue as they enroll in a JD/MBA program.
Law Firm Administration
A law firm administrator helps to run a law firm or other legal office, overseeing employees and making sure everything runs smoothly. A knowledge of business greatly helps here, as does technical legal knowledge, as it will allow you to make informed decisions and understand the roles of everyone else in the office.
Business Law Teaching
Professors and teachers will always be in demand, and obtaining a dual JD/MBA degree can be a great way to prepare yourself for such a career. With this type of degree, you will be able to instruct students in business law or teach in a dual degree program, much like the one you graduated from.
Applying to a JD/MBA Program
Applying to a JD/MBA program is generally highly competitive and you will have to put your best efforts forward for a chance to enroll in the program.
Before anything else, you should look up the schools you are interested in applying to and understand their admissions requirements. For instance, some schools require you to apply and enroll in the law school first before submitting an application to the business school, while some schools will ask that you apply to both at the same time.
It is important to understand these admissions requirements fully and ahead of time so you can plan out the programs you want to enroll in and work towards your goal with organization.
Admission into a JD/MBA program typically requires a separate application to both schools, which means taking the LSAT and the GMAT. However, some schools are accepting the GRE for admission into both schools, and some schools will accept one test score for admission into both programs.
It is essential that you understand what is required of you for admission into the JD/MBA program well before it comes time for you to apply, as you need to organize your studying time and application timeline around these testing requirements.
Resume and Experience
Much like with regular law school or MBA applications, your resume will need to be organized and well-written, concisely displaying your achievements and applicable experience in order to make you a prime program candidate. If you are still in undergraduate school or are lacking in work experience, it is a good idea to plan ahead and start finding volunteer opportunities or internships in the legal and/or business world that can help you add to your resume.
How Much Will a JD/MBA Cost?
The cost of a JD/MBA program is heavily dependent on which school you attend and whether or not you are receiving financial aid and merit scholarships. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 dollars per semester before any tuition adjustments. The cost for your dual degree will likely be higher at a more prestigious and top-ranked university, like Columbia University, and the cost can also vary based on how many years the program is (either 3 or 4).
Achieving a Degree That Suits Your Goals
While enrolling in a dual JD/MBA degree program isn't for everybody, it can be a great option for someone who is interested in both business and law, and is set on a career that involves both of these skills. As long as you understand the pros and the cons of a JD/MBA degree, you should be well-prepared to achieve a degree that suits your professional and educational goals.