Should I get an MBA,
duel degrees, or choose
a concentration?

So many options

Monica Gray, Director of Admissions
McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University

Selecting a business school that meets your professional objective is not easy - and it can be further complicated if you think that you might like to pursue a dual degree or concentration! The MBA typically offers skills and knowledge in general management that help professionals take on new responsibilities and open up new opportunities for advancement.

Joint degree programs are designed to allow students with strong interest in two professional areas to study for two graduate degrees at the same time. These intensive programs generally require that a candidate fulfill all of the first-year foundation requirements of both degree programs. The benefit comes as you complete your elective coursework, where certain courses can be applied to both degree requirements. Typically, joint degree programs reduce, by one year, the time required if you were to complete the two degrees separately. For example, at Georgetown, an MBA coupled with another two-year graduate program would take 3 years to complete. An MBA with a Juris Doctor (law degree) would take 4 years. An MBA with a medical degree (MD) would last 5 years.

Another option is to choose a concentration. This can be done during the two-year MBA program without additional time. A concentration focuses elective course work on a specific functional area. A concentration, major, or focus (they all mean the same thing) is a good idea for people who know they are going to focus their career in a specific direction and want to build a stronger skill base in that area.

Dual degree - fad or fabulous?

Thomas Schroeder
Director Business Development
Australian Graduate School of Management

Over the last couple of years business schools have seen a proliferation of dual (joint) degrees at their campuses. A dual degree is usually a combination of a traditional MBA with another Masters degree in an entirely different discipline like law, medicine, engineering, or information technology. These programs typically require admission by both faculties.

Prospective candidates should consider a few things choosing this option. One often cited advantage is that dual degrees usually take less time to complete compared to studying two different masters degree independently. However, this comes at a cost in the form of increased tuition and more time than the MBA alone. The workload for dual programs tend to be even more demanding than the MBA program alone. Juggling requirements for two degrees implies trade-offs concerning choice of electives and summer internship options. These programs tend to require a tight curriculum with limited flexibility. According to recruiters, actual work experience in the field may be as valuable as an additional degree. But for candidates who know exactly what field they want to work in after their studies, a dual degree can offer a competitive advantage and an important point of differentiation on their resume.

The dual degree option offers definite pros and cons. It is yet another reason why it is so important for MBA candidates to be clear about their career goals before choosing among the different options

Broadening the learning and adding skills

Charmaine Courtis, Executive Director
Students Services and Relations
Schulich School of Business
York University

In the early '70s the Schulich School of Business launched its first joint program between the business school and the law school. This four-year, full time MBA/LLB program allowed entrants to complete the two degrees in a reduced time period. Students are required to complete first year in each of the programs and then combining course work from both programs during the remaining two years of study. The joint program gives graduates added support in career direction and choice. By completing the two programs simultaneously they demonstrate to future employers a capacity for multiple lines of thinking, problem solving and framing. These graduates are highly sought after and are extremely successful.

A different kind of dual degree permits a student to earn two MBA degrees from two business schools. The student spends the first year of the MBA in a prominent MBA degree program and the second year at Schulich where the student has over 20 different specializations to choose from. The dual degree reduces the financial pressures for the international student who wishes to have a North American experience as they only have to budget for one year abroad. For many, this is a high value-added proposition. Additionally, these graduates have the full benefit of both schools with placement opportunities internationally. The graduates become alumni of each school. By studying in two different environments they also have learned to be adaptable, and have developed different analytical and problem solving skills. These graduates are truly the leaders of tomorrow. This option makes the MBA degree truly transnational.

The MBA Tour - Boston, MA 01890