Dual Degrees: Are they worth it?

Shobhit Chugh from IIT Delhi is currently pursuing MMM from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He is also pursuing a joint degree at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern. He’ll graduate with two degrees in just two years at no extra cost. Wondering how? Well, he applied for a dual degree.

What is a Dual Degree?

A Dual Degree Program is a simultaneous degree program for students who wish to pursue two degrees at a time, broaden their networks, or learn something different that they don’t know. Students opting for such a program have a variety of options to choose from. An MBA Program can be paired with any other graduate program like in law,engineering, technology, international studies, health care administration and public policy. It helps to earn two degrees faster. For Example the JD/MBA Program is offered by many top schools which offers dual degree in law and MBA.

How to apply for a Dual Degree Program?

To apply for a Dual Degree Program a person should be an undergraduate from any field. He must apply individually for each course, if it is a combination of courses from different colleges. It is the sole discretion of the college to accept or reject the application. Dual Degree Program may also be offered in two different countries and it requires acceptance from both the countries involved in the course.

For instance if you wish to apply at the JD/MBA Program of Stanford University you must apply independently to the Graduate School of Business for MBA and Stanford Law School for JD. When applying to GSB you must keep essay 2 into consideration and explain why you wish to pursue the joint degree.

Another recognized Dual Degree Program is The Lauder Program at Wharton. Wharton School of Business in collaboration with Penn’s School of Art and Science offers The MBA/MA Lauder Program.The application is scrutinized by both Lauder and Wharton Admissions Committees. For admissions, an Oral Proficiency Interview of 20 minutes is taken to assess language level as provided for in the application form. It must be taken within two weeks. Next two essays are to be written and submitted.

Click here to see example of essay topics and admission deadlines of class of 2011.

Why a Dual Degree?

A Dual Degree Program is advantageous in many ways.

An Engineering or Science Dual Degree

A Masters in Engineering or Biomedical Engineering would be very interesting and attractive Masters degrees to do. If you are an engineer, it will give you access to another brand name engineering degree, and give you access to the school, and most importantly, a broader network in the field of your choice since you would now be an alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences, or Engineering School. You might get to know undergrads and other engineers, and put a startup together with people who have no knowledge of business. It would also strengthen your credibility and knowledge in engineering, in areas of interest to you. An MBA helps you learn the business side of that field. Together, it will give you credibility for a technology-focussed position for MBAs, and an edge over your classmates.

An Arts Dual

Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania offers courses in languages and international studies to MBA and JD students. With a second degree from Lauder , you will learn and build a network with other Lauder School students with international backgrounds and interests. This is an interesting second degree to take if you are interested in specializing in a region or country. It is more useful for American students who have never lived or worked abroad, but a Lauder School degree may not be as useful to Indians who are familiar with Asia. If you seek to move to Spain or France, my recommendation would be to live in Spain or France. However, if you plan to move or work in South America, this may be an  attractive option.

JD and the MD

This is a very interesting choice to make, but a very specialized one. Rarely do we find anyone doing the MBA and picking up the JD or the MD. If you want to be a lawyer or a doctor, get those degrees. Get the MBA if you want to excel in your field. Great lawyers with great business sense are hard to find. With an MD/MBA you would get picked up by venture capital firms, or rise a lot faster at companies like Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic etc. This is a topic for a longer discussion. Suffice to say, if your primary goal is to do an MBA, don’t spend your time here. It takes 3.5 years to complete a JD/MBA and 6 years to complete an MD/MBA.


After an MBA, you’re unlikely to go back to school. If you always wanted to major in another field, this might be your last chance to do it. Separately, it may take 2-3 years to complete one degree but in Dual Degree Program it could be completed in the same amount of time, or sometimes, a year less than it would have taken otherwise. With the JD and the MD, dual, those degrees would take 3-5 years to complete on their own. Done together, you save a year on your MBA, because you take some extra courses along the way, or load up on more than the usual coursework, saving a year.

Career Changers

If you are looking for a career change Dual Degree Program may help you advance your basic degree and also help you explore areas in the other degree.Another major advantage of such a course is that you may also gain versatility and add an additional degree to your professional portfolio. Such programs are also less costly in comparison to doing two degrees separately. Further, Dual Degree Program offer more than traditional MBA Degree Programs.

Examples of Dual Degree?

Harvard University offers variety of such programs with its schools.Programs like MBA/MPP, JD/MBA, DMD/MBA and MD/MBA. Stanford Graduate School of Business offers 6 joint and dual degree programs boosting professional expertise. Wharton School of Business offers these programs in collaboration with other graduate schools at University of Pennsylvania and also with the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Wharton School offers MBA with Biotech, Law, Engineering, Environmental Studies, social work and The Lauder Program.

A dual degree isn’t for everyone. You should really want to do something related to the field. Don’t do it simply because you’re curious about it. Do it because you want to accelerate your specialization in that field.

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