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What is a JD MBA?

Shannon Cook

Shannon Cook - BusinessBecause

Shannon Cook is a Writer for BusinessBecause and GMAC Media.

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MBA and law graduates rank amongst some of the most employable candidates. But have you ever considered studying for both an MBA and a law degree?

The JD MBA dual degree program is perfect for ambitious students who wish to gain a grounding in business while developing their legal expertise. As a result, JD MBA grads will thrive at the intersection between law and business in their future careers.

So, what can you do with a JD MBA? What top business schools offer the JD MBA? And is a JD MBA worth the time and costs?

What is the JD MBA?

JD stands for Juris Doctor (JD), a graduate-level degree in law, while MBA stands for Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Some of the best business schools in North America, such as Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, offer JD MBA joint degree programs.

The JD MBA is typically four years long, although some schools offer an accelerated three-year option, including Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management’s Northwestern JD MBA.

Students complete the JD side with the law department, earning a JD, and the MBA side with the business department, earning a separate MBA degree.

Graduating with a JD MBA degree will provide you with a unique competitive edge. During a JD MBA, you’ll boost your network, strengthen your career prospects, and learn how to make legal decisions informed by a business perspective.

Who Is a JD MBA for?

A JD MBA dual degree program is for driven students who wish to learn about how law and business intersect.

Sharon Thompson, assistant dean of admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, says, “the Duke JD MBA is helpful for those hoping to work with business clients in a law setting, or those looking to work as a lawyer in the corporate world.”

JD MBA students come from an array of professional backgrounds. At Columbia Business School, the Columbia JD MBA cohort comes from industries ranging from engineering, consulting, and financial services to acting and teaching.

A JD MBA is for you if you wish to put your analytical and problem-solving skills to the test in a challenging yet diverse setting. This is exactly what motivated Danielle Hart, an American University’s Kogod School of Business JD MBA grad, to join the MBA dual degree program.

“When I was in law school, I knew I wanted to still be involved in business, albeit in the legal capacity. I ultimately chose to go to business school because, while I had a passion for law, I always had a passion for business,” she says.

JD MBA courses and curriculum

On a JD MBA, you’ll typically spend time studying your law and MBA degrees separately and after that you’ll focus on a combination of these subjects. At most business schools, you’ll study the same courses as those undertaking a separate MBA or law degree.

On the Harvard JD MBA, for example, you’ll spend your first year at the law school studying core legal courses such as civil procedure, contracts, and legal research and writing. During your first year at the business school, you’ll take core MBA courses in leadership, finance, and strategy.

Isaac Todd, a student on the Northwestern JD MBA, appreciates the mix of learning experiences. “I’ve been able to tailor my three years to focus on the learning and experiences I value and access a wide variety of academics and extra-curricular experiences,” he says.

JD MBA admissions

Since you’ll be studying with both the law school and the business school, you’ll normally be required to apply separately to each school to pursue a JD MBA. You’ll also need to have a bachelor’s degree.

You’ll need solid GMAT exam scores to get accepted into an MBA, while you’ll need to pass the LSAT or GMAT to join the law school. However, on an integrated program such as the Northwestern JD MBA, you'll only be required to submit one application with a GMAT score.

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“Those who are curious, determined, great communicators, great writers, and analytical thinkers make good Harvard JD MBA candidates,” says Jill Fadule, director of joint degree programs for MBA student and academic services at Harvard Business School.

“[Good] candidates display leadership skills and want to tackle complex problems where they believe both skillsets will make a difference.”

JD MBA jobs: What can you do with a JD MBA?

Armed with legal and managerial experience under your belt, JD MBAs will be able to apply for a range of jobs across the legal and business sectors.

Harvard JD MBA graduates enter popular MBA career routes such as hedge fund management, venture capital, and banking, with 72 percent accepting MBA-level roles and 20 percent joining law firms.

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Nine in 10 companies plan to hire MBAs in 2021 despite COVID-19, according to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey. With additional legal knowledge in your arsenal, you’re likely to be highly employable as a JD MBA.

Many JD MBA grads begin practicing law immediately upon graduation and transition into a leadership role later. Some graduates land leadership roles in organizations outside the legal profession after the JD MBA.

“In any case, graduates are generally well-positioned with the JD MBA credential to eventually lead an organization in either the private or public sectors,” says Kirsten Moss, assistant dean for MBA admissions and financial aid at Stanford.

Based on the Stanford MBA class of 2020, Stanford JD MBA grads can expect base salary heights of around US$183k in finance, while in consulting they could make about US$156k. In healthcare, JD MBA grads might make around US$156k.

Is a JD MBA worth it?

How much does a JD MBA cost? According to US News, a JD MBA on average costs around US$50k a year in tuition. Fees vary between different schools with some upwards of US$200k for the four years.

However, there are also many MBA scholarships and financial aid you can access, alongside scholarships for the JD side of your degree.

Since you’re likely to land a well-paying job, as well as completing two degrees in a shorter amount of time than it would take to study the subjects separately, you’ll likely receive a strong return on investment (ROI) from your JD MBA.

What’s more, the cross-industry knowledge and the diverse networks you’ll gain in the business and legal worlds will pay dividends throughout your future career.

Serious JD MBA applicants need to be organized if they’re going to meet the admissions requirements by the deadline. Our free Business School Application Checklist will help keep you on track, as well as point you to useful resources here on mba.com for each step of your journey.


Shannon Cook

Shannon Cook - BusinessBecause

Shannon Cook is a Writer for BusinessBecause and GMAC Media. She is responsible for writing and managing sponsored and non-sponsored editorial content relating to the business school journey, as well as covering the latest business news trends. She also heads up the video series, building brand awareness of BusinessBecause across social media channels and the website.

Shannon earned a BA in English Literature with Legal Studies from the University of Sussex and an MA in International Journalism from the University of Leeds.