Are two degrees better than one? A growing number of universities think so. They are increasingly offering dual JD/MBA programs, melding the flagship masters degrees in law and business administration. These joint programs tend to be taught in conjunction with law schools of the parent university, providing a multidisciplinary perspective.
It is strongly established that a diversity of perspectives enriches the learning experience and boosts organizational performance. Many of the world’s leading law and business schools, brands such as Harvard University, are now running dual MBA/JD degrees. The University of Chicago was one of the latest institutions to launch one, in 2020, recognizing that law and business intersect in the areas of intellectual property, privacy and mergers and acquisitions. Globalization and technology developments have further torn down the barriers between these once distinctive sectors.
The schools emphasize the strong career outcomes, with the dual degrees giving graduates a competitive edge in worlds of business and law. The programs attract students from both disciplines, especially corporate lawyers, for whom deepening their understanding of the economic, global and social forces shaping the business landscape can boost their career prospects.
While many of the graduates will practice law on graduation, the dual degree lays the foundation for a transition to senior executive positions in a wide variety of heavily regulated institutions, such as financial services firms, or anywhere else where a command of both law and business is essential. Plenty of executives enroll in these programs who need to understand liability and employment law; and some graduates will go on to launch their own business ventures.
The added advantage of a dual degree is a larger network of law and business contacts. Typically, the programs are also accelerated in that it would take five years to obtain both a JD and an MBA separately. However, prospective students will need to apply and be admitted to both the MBA and JD degrees separately on some courses, a tall task. The dual programs are also a considerable investment of time, money and energy, but they can pay off handsomely. Most are clustered in North America. Here are the top 10:
The prestigious University of Pennsylvania is home to the leading Carey Law School and the Wharton School of business. The schools jointly run the Francis J. and William Polk Carey JD/MBA Program, with students taking courses at both institutions before taking part in a capstone project at the end of the three-year degree. Interested parties need to complete a full-time MBA application, plus a supplementary application for the law school, and be admitted by both institutions.View School Profile
New York University’s Stern School of Business and the School of Law have teamed up to bridge the two disciplines with a JD/MBA dual degree. It builds foundational skills for careers in law and business over a four-year period. Graduates of the program go on to work in law firms, in-house legal teams, investment and accounting firms, as well as nonprofits and government institutions. Admitted students are automatically considered for one of a range of scholarships.View School Profile
In Canada, there’s a joint JD/MBA program offered by the Schulich School of Business together with Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Admission is required by both schools and students will study for four years. The curriculum is can be customized, enabling students to tailor classes to their professional interests. For example, many graduates work in banks in capital markets roles, as they understand how to structure financial transactions. But alumni also go on to pursue a career as a corporate lawyer across industries.View School Profile
Stanford University runs the JD/MBA program with its Law School and Graduate School of Business. Graduates pursue a wide range of career paths including public service, law, or management. Students doing the four-year degree can take different paths, starting classes at the law school for a year or two years before moving onto the business school. Students often prepare for the bar exam during the course.View School Profile
In 2020, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business established a joint MBA/JD program that can be completed in three years instead of the usual four, and students need to complete just one application to the university, streamlining the admissions process. The curriculum is immersive and prepares students for careers in law and business. Participants take part in multiple internships with leading law firms and corporations.View School Profile
Columbia Business School in New York City offers an accelerated JD/MBA, which can be completed in three years. Students are put on the fast-track and learn cross-disciplinary skills to solve pressing global challenges. They learn, for example, the basics of business theory, policy and practice before specializing in subjects of their choosing through elective courses. Columbia has highly ranked business and law schools, with world renowned faculty teaching on the dual degree from both institutions.View School Profile
Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School offer a joint degree program in law and business. Applicants have to apply to both institutions separately to secure a place on the JD/MBA program. It aims to give both executives and lawyers a competitive edge in the labor market. Applicants will need to apply and be admitted to both the law and business schools. Those who secure a place are eligible to apply for financial aid at Harvard, which has a generous scholarship program.View School Profile
The Smith School of Business and Queen’s Law jointly run the JD/MBA program, a four-year degree. The program leverages the strengths of both schools, part of Queen’s University in Canada. Students will study contracts as well as criminal, property, and public law. That’s in addition to MBA courses in business analytics, financial accounting, and corporate strategy.View School Profile
Cornell University in Ithaca also runs a JD/MBA program. The dual degree at Cornell, an Ivy League institution, attracts corporate lawyers and those involved in mergers and acquisitions who need to perform due diligence. Some of the students are entrepreneurs who want to learn how to establish new entities, or protect their intellectual property. Another large intake of students comes from the commercial real estate sector.View School Profile
The JD/MBA at UBC equips students with expertise in all areas of the law, business and management. Both the UBC Sauder School of Business, and Allard School of Law are well regarded internationally. Students on the dual degree program take part in global consulting projects in different countries. They also work an internship, a further opportunity to put their academic theory into practice in the real world of business.View School Profile