What is a Dual MBA Degree? A Pros and Cons Guide


Graduate school is increasingly vital for success in today’s marketplace. Bachelor’s degrees are becoming so prevalent as to diminish their value to employers. While you can still forge a brilliant career with an undergraduate degree, you will likely need a master’s degree if you wish to attain a seat in management or the corporate suites.

An MBA seems to be the degree of choice, especially for mid- to late-career professionals. However, even that is losing some of its power in the job market. Thus, academia is responding with a raft of dual degree programs that allow you to emerge with two master’s degrees in virtually the same time it takes to complete one. You can show not only expertise in your chosen field, but bolster that with the business knowledge you need to thrive.

What Is a Dual MBA Degree?

Dual MBA degree programs are designed to allow you to graduate with two master’s degrees in approximately the same time frame it usually takes to complete one, while still maintaining the same standards and curriculum as standalone graduate degrees.

Programs are popping up all over that offer students this option in an all-in-one package. That is, students are admitted to a single dual-degree program that meets all their academic needs. Traditionally, students would have to first complete an MBA and then go through a new application process prior to working on their second degree. This old method took much more time than the new, streamlined approach.

A dual MBA degree is a creative approach for students who know exactly the sort of career they wish to pursue. Frequently these degrees involve a lot of work and few, if any, terms off. Nevertheless, with a strong work ethic and a firm idea of one’s goals, a dual MBA program is a fantastic way to launch a brilliant career.

Pros and Cons of a Dual MBA Degree Program

Pros

Some people call dual-degree holders a double threat. That’s because they have mastered two professional fields and can thus perform multiple tasks and offer twice the skillset as a single-degree holder. With a dual MBA, you will have twice the number of professional opportunities available upon graduation. However, most enter a dual-degree program with the intention of making one field their primary and then using their other degree to inform their career. Thus, you might make business your focus, but then rely on your law degree to inform your investment banking activities. A full knowledge of corporate law will make you an expert deal-maker that any Mergers and Acquisitions team would love to have aboard.

An added benefit to a dual-degree program is the fact that you will vastly increase your network. For instance, most MBA holders form collegial bonds that help bolster their professional careers for years. In fact, a large reason people pursue an MBA is for the contacts and networking opportunities. Now, imagine if you had the opportunity to meet approximately the same number of people in your other favorite field? Not only would you emerge a double threat, but you’ll have twice the professional network behind you.

Cons

A dual MBA program is not without its downsides. The chief problem is the sheer volume of work. An MBA is difficult enough, now imagine adding a law degree on top of that. Now, you’ll have to complete both in the time it takes other students to complete just one. If you have a family, they are sure to miss you during your long hours in the library, and it will be impossible to hold a job during your time in school.

You will also have to shoulder the full brunt of the tuition expenses. Few employers will be willing to pitch in tuition reimbursement if you can’t work for, say, five years. Employers might also look askance at your choice of a dual-degree program.

That is, employers might see a dual-degree as an indication that you are hedging your bets and might be looking to quit and pursue another field at any moment. You might find this attitude particularly common in jobs where your second degree is less useful, which leads to another difficulty. Not every job will necessitate a second degree. If you have a JD/MBA, not every position in business will need your legal expertise. Thus, that aspect of your training won’t be useful, which may be frustrating for you. You also might not make as much money as you’d like, weakening the ROI on your dual degree.

What Dual Degree Programs are Available?

There are many degrees that are now paired with the lauded MBA. These options are thrilling for students who know they will need expertise in two fields if they are to achieve the successes they desire.

Ultimately, if you are planning a long career in nearly any field, an MBA will be helpful. After you have mastered your field and are looking to move into a managerial position, the administrative and leadership aspects of the MBA will be highly desired. Under a traditional model, you could choose a master’s degree in your field and then later return for an MBA. On the other hand, some pursue an MBA that is paired with a concentration that suits their industry or profession. The dual MBA approach ensures that you have the skills to run an organization plus the expertise required in your industry.

JD/MBA

A Juris Doctor (JD) degree is a typical degree for attorneys. When combined with an MBA, students will have a head full of both law and business administration. This is a potent combination that can lead to extremely successful careers.

You might choose to become an investment banker who is able to work on high-level corporate transactions that involve deep knowledge of the applicable law. On the other hand, you could choose to be a Bar-certified attorney who specializes in corporate law. Either way you are sure to work on the same deals, just on different parts depending on your chosen focus area. This is a popular dual degree choice for aspiring mergers and acquisitions professionals. It’s also popular for those who wish to work on public offering deals that involve government oversight and which demand lots of legal work. You’ll need to focus your MBA degree on finance, but your hard work will be richly rewarded.

MD/MBA

It may seem incongruous at first, but there are top programs that offer a Medical Doctor (MD) degree in conjunction with an MBA. That is because there are many students who aspire to go beyond clinical work and into the business realm. Further, there may be aspiring business leaders that wish to excel in the healthcare industry.

The MBA portion of your education will enable you to effectively manage a private medical practice, but it just as easily could launch you into the upper reaches of hospital administration. You might also have a fantastic idea for a new medical technology or procedure that needs keen business acumen to ensure that its market debut is a stellar success for patients and investors alike.

In fact, you can opt to not practice medicine at all. Rather, you can leverage your medical knowledge to lend credibility and authority to a career as a healthcare management consultant. Other options include a career in health and public policy, where your deep medical knowledge can inform your administrative duties.

MPP/MBA

Market forces often inform public policy, and the reverse can also be true. A Master of Public Policy (MPP) is thus a perfect match for an MBA. The end goal of this dual degree is often for the student to attain a leadership position in government, an NGO, or a consultancy.

To complete this degree, you’ll study all the courses pertinent to public policy. For instance, you’ll study statistical analysis, data science, microeconomics, political science, and policy analysis. You’ll also be steeped in MBA coursework, including topics such as organizational leadership, supply chain, strategic management, financial accounting, corporate responsibility, and business ethics, among others.

If you choose to take each degree separately, you’d spend at least four years in school. However, dual degree programs are geared towards a three-year timetable, yet demand that you take the same number of courses. To help you navigate the intense academic calendar, you’ll have advisers for each part of your degree that will guide you towards the best courses for your career path.

MSN/MBA

Just as there are MD/MBA programs, so there programs that pair an MBA with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This degree is a fantastic opportunity for a practicing nurse to accelerate their career into administration or some sort of entrepreneurship. There are many opportunities for MSN/MBA degree holders.

In fact, this degree can help you insert your overall philosophy of nursing into the administration arena. That is, your administrative decisions can be tempered by a deep sense of caring for patients and their well-being. Further, since nurses are at the front lines of healthcare, they often are the first ones to register inefficiencies and other organizational problems. With your MSN/MBA dual degree, you can conjoin best business practices, leadership, and your nurse’s intuitions to help heal sick healthcare systems. Thus, you can ensure better outcomes for nurses, doctors, and patients alike. Along the way, your employers will applaud your leadership.

MSN/MBA programs can be focused to cater to your specific area of interest. You might choose to concentrate on issues related to information technology, management, health policy, or population management. If you choose to focus on IT, for instance, you might discover better ways to manage patient records so as to avoid harmful drug interactions.

Other Dual Degrees

  • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) / MBA
  • Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations (HRIR) / MBA
  • Applied Economics (MS-APEC) / MBA
  • Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) / MBA
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) / MBA
  • MS in Engineering / MBA
  • Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry / MBA
  • MS Life Sciences / MBA
  • Master of Theological Studies (MTS) / MBA


Written By: John Doe

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