This time of year, we start to hear people ask a lot about the JD/MBA degree path. It’s understandable, given the popularity of both programs and the temptation to get two degrees normally totaling five years of school in just three or four years.
That said this is a time we usually ask people to stop and think things through. Why? Because you can shoot yourself squarely in the foot if you rush off and apply as a JD/MBA applicant instead of one or the other.
Let’s work through this.
For starters, we are not speaking to the small group of you who has your heart set on this path. For someone who is dead set on a JD/MBA, it is worth any risks to go ahead and put your cards on the table because you need to know exactly where you have this specific opportunity. So please, don’t abandon your dreams because of this post.
However, if you are like most people considering this path, you have a clear preference for one degree over the other. You also probably have a stronger profile in one area or another. Hopefully, those coincide. Because what we want you to do is think about the impact that tacking the other degree might have on your chances. It’s important to remember a couple of things about the world behind the magic curtain: 1) the admissions offices can and will talk to each other within a university, and 2) admissions offices are obsessed with their yield rates.
So if you are looking like a slam dunk candidate at Chicago Law School with your 3.7 GPA from a public ivy and your 172 LSAT and your heart for public service, the last thing you want to do is submit an application to Booth with your four months of work experience. Suddenly, Chicago Law has to ask Booth if they plan to admit you. When Booth says “no way, not enough work experience,” suddenly an admit letter turns into a ding at Chicago Law. Why? Because you have made it clear you want a JD/MBA and the University of Chicago won’t be providing you with that option. The same is also true, of course, for MBA candidates. If you have a decent GPA and a good GMAT score with great work experience, you are looking good at, say, Ross. But if you take a whack at the LSAT and get a 160 and then applying to Michigan as a JD/MBA, the law school is going to vote thumbs down and there goes your acceptance to Ross.
The other reason to take a wait and see approach and to focus on your strengths is that you can always try the “knock on the old oak door” approach. Once you are accepted to a program, they are far more likely to help you pursue a seat in the corresponding school. You can even achieve this while you are on campus. It obviously depends on the university and which degree program you start in (it is far easier to go from Yale Law to Yale SOM, for instance, or from Wharton to Penn Law than vice versa), but when you consider what a low-risk proposition it is and that you might be able to cut through some red tape, it is almost always the best way to play it.
If you need help sorting this all out, understanding the landscape, making tough choices, or preparing applications, look us up and we’ll be happy to assist you on the journey. Good luck and remember that less is more when it comes to increasing your application odds.