As little as fifty years ago, a career in business and a career in law seemed like very different paths.
Both had their value, to be sure. But if you wanted to climb the corporate ladder, you took an entry-level position in a company and worked your way up. On-the-job training and common sense were more important than most of the facts you picked up in college.
Lawyers needed much more training, not just in legal history and case studies, but in the arts of rhetoric and persuasion. To a certain extent, going into law meant separating yourself from the petty concerns of commerce and devoting yourself to the study and practice of higher concerns.
Today, that’s simply not the case. As our economy has grown to be more global, so also has business become more complex. Whether you’re looking to work in the private sector, gain a government job or some other public station, or ply your trade in a non-profit, you need more than just a business degree or a law degree.
You need both.
Fortunately, many schools have addressed the needs posed by these changes by offering dual MBA and JD degrees. Instead of pursuing these degrees separately, which would take at least five years and cost a great deal of money, these dual degrees allow you to earn both at the same time.
If you’re looking to pursue this efficient path of study, here are ten of the best dual MBA/JD programs in the United States.
Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
Most would assume that getting a J.D and an MBA degree would take an inordinate amount of time. But at Georgetown University, students can secure both degrees in just four years.
For the first two years of the program, students spend their time in either the Georgetown University Law Center or the McDonough School of Business. In year one, students take all of their credits in the law school, and all of their credits come from the business school in year two.
In the final two years of the program, students take courses in both schools.
The curriculum combines the best of both schools, along with courses such as Global Business Experience, Managing the Enterprise, and Ethical Leadership.
After the program, students leave ready to work in the public or private sector, or at non-profits – anywhere in which the law connects with global business.
Emory University (Atlanta, GA)
At Atlanta’s respected Emory University, students can drive their own pursuit of an MBA/JD joint degree.
If they wish, students can begin the program at the School of Law and then take courses at the Goizueta Business School after their second year. This approach allows them to finish their joint degree in four years and take internships over three summer sessions.
For students who want more elective options, students can alternate their learning. Beginning in the law school for year one and in the business school for year two, students have access to elective courses at both schools in years three and four.
Students can even embark on a one-year MBA program after years or two of law school. Although this option provides students with a chance for only two summer internships, it does let them finish the dual degree in only three and a half years.
Whichever option they choose, students at Emory will have everything they need for a career working with complex legal and business challenges.
UC-Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
But students at UC Hastings can also participate, as the Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco partners with Haas for a unique MBA/JD degree.
Students studying at Berkeley Law can complete the program in four years, completing 43 credits in business and 75 in law.
For those at Hastings, students complete five semesters in their parent institution and three at Haas.
Despite that extra work, it’s clear that UC-Berkeley gives students unprecedented opportunities to earn both degrees.
Villanova University (Villanova, PA)
Combining the Charles Widger School of Law and the Villanova School of Business offerings, Villanova University’s remarkable Reza Taleghani MBA/JD degree prepares students for business careers in a global world.
Even better, students can complete the program in record time, only three years.
In the Law School, students learn from a curriculum that grounds them in core subjects, such as constitutional law, contracts, torts, and more. Students gain experience reading legal decisions, performing practical legal writing, and other advanced skills.
As part of the Flex Track at the Business School, students have greater autonomy and the ability to follow their passions. Working alongside the school’s experienced faculty, students choose from specializations such as social enterprises and global business.
With this focused approach, students can take their three years of learning into a satisfying and challenging career.
Columbia University (New York, NY)
In an increasingly global world, business and law move quickly. That’s why Columbia University offers an unparalleled JD/MBA degree that students can complete in only three years.
The school’s cross-disciplinary focus teaches students to become innovative thinkers, ready to address challenges that don’t fit into neat boxes.
Although the program is incredibly intensive, putting students through a rigorous course of study, it gives students important tools. When they leave the program, students will not only have a solid foundation in the policies, practices, and theories of law and business, but also the specific expertise they’ll need for their choice of career.
Working alongside expert faculty with experience practicing and studying their field, and accessing Columbia’s alumni network, students quickly gain the knowledge needed to live and work in the 21st century.
Yale University (New Haven, CT)
Some of the schools on this feature a three-year dual degree program. Others have a four-year dual degree program.
At Yale University, students can have their choice of both.
In the three-year Integrated MBA-JD program, students take classes in their first year at Yale Law and their second year at the Yale School of Management, before returning to the law school for year three. Yale students can finish their degree in six semesters, taking advantage of the school’s integrated MBA curriculum and the law elective.
The four-year MBA-JD program begins with two years at Yale Law, one year at the School of Management, and a year taking elective courses.
No matter which track they follow, Yale gives its students advanced training in global commerce and law, quickly preparing its students to become experts in their chosen field.
Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
Housed in the Law School, Stanford University’s JD/MBA joint degree program is perfect for anyone wanting to go into law or public service, or those whose management aspirations take them onto the world stage.
In short, if their future career requires knowledge of both law and commerce, then a joint JD/MBA is for them.
Like many of the schools on this list, Stanford has multiple options for those working on a dual degree. On one track, they can split between law school work for years one and two and business school work in the last two years. On the other track, they alternate between the two schools each year.
But what makes Stanford stand out is its residency program. Students must complete five quarters of residency, taking advantage of all the graduate program’s resources.
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Unsurprisingly for an Ivy League institution, the Francis J. & William Polk Carey JD/MBA Program at the University of Pennsylvania combines the offerings of two top-notch schools: the Carey Law School and the Wharton School.
Over the course of three or four years, students will be fully immersed in the study of law and business. But the best evidence of the program’s success can be found in the quality of its students.
The current program includes students who bring their experience as a charter school teacher and research fellow at an environmental non-profit to the school in the hopes of one day establishing an organization to support sustainable economies.
Another student will parley her internship at Skadden and a dual degree from UPenn into a corporate law career.
As these examples demonstrate, UPenn has not only remarkable resources but a strong student body to support their studies.
Duke University (Durham, NC)
What’s better than getting a degree from Duke Law School? How about getting a degree from the Fuqua School of Business at the same time?
Not only does the JD/MBA program allow students to earn their joint degree in four short years, but it also allows them to choose the order and school in which they focus their attention. The school even allows for an accelerated degree in some cases, in which students complete their dual degree in three and a half years.
Thanks to this student-first focus, those in the program can take advantage of everything that both schools have to offer. They can design a course of study best suited for their future career plans, in fields such as management, law, finance, and more.
In collaboration with the school’s excellent internship opportunities and Duke’s Career Center, students have all the training and support they need to succeed.
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The University of Chicago School of Law is one of the best law programs in the world. The Booth School of Business is one of the best business schools in the world.
Bringing together both programs, the joint JD/MBA degree gives students unparalleled specialized training needed to work in some of the most challenging fields.
The evidence of the school’s quality can be seen in the example of alumni such as Brice Lipman, associate attorney at Kirkland & Ellis. Thanks to his education in U Chicago’s JD/MBA program, Lipman can help energy companies improve their transactions. It’s complex work, requiring first-class training.
As Lipman demonstrates, learning under leading faculty in business and law gives students advanced training, ready to meet the needs of the global economy.