Is the combined JD/MBA degree a good idea?

I came across the above article on the question of the combined Law MBA degree. Is this a good idea? Mitt Romney was one of the first to combine law and MBA. If you didn’t know, he is a “high achieving guy”. In fact Mitt Romney combined the study of law and business at Harvard.

If it made sense for Mitt Romney, does that mean it makes sense for you? Should you do a combined JD/MBA degree? This is a question I am frequently asked by pre-law students. Clearly it doesn’t mean that you can win a presidential election. But, perhaps there are other reasons to do one.

As a general principle I think that joint degrees are a good idea. As a general principle I think that joint law degrees are a good idea. I don’t think that the joint JD/MBA is necessarily a good idea.

Here is the “comment” (with slight modifications) that I attempted to leave to this article:

This is an interesting article. As  long time law admissions counselor I get many questions about “joint law degrees”.

First, as a general principle there are two costs to a legal education. The first is the financial cost and the second is time. I find that people (understandably) focus more on the financial cost and less on the time it takes to complete the degree(s).

Joint degrees are a great way to get best value for the three years you are in law school. So, if you can earn an MBA in the three years it takes to complete law school, that would be an efficient use of your time.Therefore, MBA programs that can be completed while you are in law school appear to make “time sense”. In addition to the examples you have given (since I work from Toronto) I would add that the University of Western Ontario law school in London Ontario has a three year joint JD/MBA program with the Ivey School of Business.

That said, I am still NOT convinced that these programs (JD/MBA) are a good idea. Here is why. Although law school tends to be pretty standard, MBA program differ widely in focus. They range from the traditional “general management MBA” to “Finance” to “Marketing” to “Investment Management”, etc.

People considering joint JD/MBA programs tend to default to the MBA program where they are admitted to law school. This reduces the chances of the MBA program being in an area of interest for them. It makes no sense (and it will be harmful to you) to do an MBA in Finance if you can’t stand math.

These days it is possible to earn an MBA in one year anyway. Unless you are really excited about the MBA program, I would pass on the JD/MBA. The chances are that you can do a better job on each by keeping them separate.

Now some thoughts on the “MBA Decision”. Education is an investment. Investing is about making decisions based on where you think the world is going and how it is evolving. The growth in the world is NOT in North America. This is a very good reason to consider MBA programs outside of North America.There are some very interesting MBA programs in many different parts of the world. When I attend MBA fairs I am amazed by the growth of MBA programs in Asia.In the summer of 2012 I have a very interesting visit at the Indian School of Business. It was a very impressive school (once visited by the second President Bush – another Harvard business school graduate).

Finally, another way to view joint law degrees would be the opportunity to combine your area of undergraduate interest with law school. For example, what if your undergraduate degree was in sociology. Why not do a joint law/social work degree? (This is one example of a very popular and competitive program.)



Here is President Bush participating in an informal discussion at the Indian School of Business.