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MBA Dual Degree Programs FAQ

Written by Sameer Kamat

The dual MBA is being offered with increasingly diverse options to choose from so as to cater to the interests of students from varied educational and professional background. For those interested, MBA Crystal Ball presents a few facts in order to decide if the dual MBA suits your career goal or not.

What exactly is the ‘MBA dual degree’ program?

The general term ‘dual degree’ is used when two different MBA institutions have a tie-up and are offering an MBA jointly as is seen in case of NYU Stern and HEC Paris. Candidates get an MBA from both these participating institutions.

However in this post, we’re not going to discuss about this type of dual degree program. Instead the focus of this article is about completing your MBA and simultaneously being a part of another post-graduate program from a partner institution.

Under the dual degree program, business schools have a tie-up with various colleges and both participating programs work in collaboration to give the candidate a double degree. The candidate has to secure admission independently in both these participating institutions. The applicant has to pay the entire fees for both these programs. Each college will take its decision regarding admissions independently.

What’s the benefit of a dual degree MBA?

The total time needed for completing dual degree courses would be lesser than each of these post-graduate programs taken independently. So you save on valuable time which also translates to lesser period away from work. Usually candidates can expect to save about a year under the dual degree program. But be aware that the overall time does go up. More on this later.

How do I apply to dual degree programs?

Applications to both the programs can be made simultaneously. Those who get enrolled for both the program need to inform both the colleges about their dual degree MBA plans. Candidates can get started with any one program while deferring the admission for the other one.

However, this choice of order also depends on the course requirement and the partner institutions involved. Candidates who have already started with a course can apply to the other course provided they apply early within the first semester or the first year as required.

What are the various dual MBA degree options?

Each college has its own combinations of courses offered along with an MBA. Darden School of University of Virginia offers a wide range of dual degree options to choose from: MBA/JD, MBA/MD, MBA/MPH, MBA/MPP, MBA/MEd in Innovation in Education Reform, MBA/MA in East Asian Studies, MBA/MA in Government or Foreign Affairs, MBA/ME, MBA/MSN and MBA/PhD.
Check out the details of these programs –> here.

Some other business schools offer lesser options. For instance, Chicago Booth School of business offers MPP, JD, MD, MA along with an MBA.  Depending upon your interest, the options that can help with your career enhancement and the brand name you would be interested in, you can prepare your school short list.

Why spend additional time and money on an extra degree?

Won’t just an MBA help me a with a career change or career advancement? It can be a strong differentiator when you have a post-graduation degree as it offers specialization in a particular field. An MBA provides a general picture with only the electives offering specific knowledge.

But these electives last only for a limited duration. During this short period, it becomes difficult to maximize the knowledge and exposure gained. Immersing yourself wholly in a specialized area for a prolonged duration provides in-depth knowledge and insights when you want to gain expertise and plan to spend the next few years in the chosen field. This dual degree provides a chance to balance a general degree with a specialized degree.

A lot of candidates going in for an MBA manage a complete career change even without this kind of specialization. However some feel that finding a job post-MBA in a new area would be tough without any background experience. So in order to rule out the odds involved, they prefer this dual degree option.

What are the drawbacks of the dual degree option?

There are pros and cons to any approach; the dual degree program also has its downsides.

- The cost involved for getting two degrees goes up considerably.

- The quality of both the programs needs to be assessed.  If both the programs are not equally strong, the MBA brand may overshadow the other brand or vice versa.

- You would need to be sure about the specialization upfront and once you take the plunge you can’t change directions. So for instance, a JD/MBA student needs to have enough clarity and commitment towards a career that lies at the cusp of management and law.

- Due to longer absence from work, the candidate may be at risk of getting out of sync and losing picture of the rapidly evolving job market outside. Your peers doing only an MBA could be hitting the job market much earlier and gaining additional years of work experience.
So, if you have been thinking of applying to dual degree programs, you need to do a thorough research on both the courses, find the added value of this additional degree in the job market and be aware of the financial implications (higher fees and lost wages during this period). It can work best only when you are convinced that this option is the best that can give your career a competitive edge.

Read this post on the JD-MBA Program by Kellogg where our friend Jeremy Wilson talks about his experience in one of the best dual degree programs.


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Sameer Kamat

About Sameer Kamat

Founder of MBA Crystal Ball | Author of 'Beyond The MBA Hype' | Cambridge MBA Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter @mba_cb

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