Even as applicant numbers at many law schools have dropped significantly over the past few years, JD/MBA programs at prominent universities still manage to attract a significant number of applicants. Whether it’s because of the flexibility the degree provides, or the ability to earn two degrees in compressed time, demand for these programs doesn’t seem to be in too much danger. Not any time soon, anyway.
Which JD/MBA program is right for you? As always, you owe it to yourself to do a great deal of research before applying to any such program — and before deciding that a joint degree really is right for you to begin with. Today we take a quick look at three of the most prominent JD/MBA programs in the United States. This isn’t our own ranking of the three very best business/law joint programs, but rather a snapshot of three programs that applicants ask about all the time. Let’s start with…
Columbia actually offers its JD/MBA programs in two flavors: a three-year program and a four-year option. The university introduced the three-year option back in 2010, and since then it has grown to dwarf the four year option, which is still available. In the three-year program, students spend their first year at Columbia Law School, then their second year at Columbia Business School, and then a mix of courses in their third year.
Columbia doesn’t offer the ease of a joint application; you need to apply to each program separately, and there’s a chance you will be admitted to one but not the other. (The two admissions offices may discuss your application.) 1L law students can apply to enter the three-year JD/MBA program, but 2L students may only apply to the four-year program, since they will have missed the planned second year at Columbia Business School.
Northwestern was one of the pioneers of the three-year JD/MBA option. The school uses a more integrated admissions process, with applicants submitting just a single application to Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. (Note that this means you only need to submit a GMAT score, and not an LSAT score.) From that point forward, a coordinator works as a liaison between the admissions department of the two schools for each application. 1L Northwestern law students may apply to the program, but Northwestern does not accept transfers from other law schools.
Similar to students at Columbia, Northwestern JD/MBA students spend their first year at the law school, then a year at Kellogg, and then do a year of both (but with a heavy emphasis on law courses). Given the fact that Northwestern Law is in Chicago and Kellogg is in Evanston (just outside of the city), and that students spend their first year at the law school, many students end up living in Chicago throughout the whole program.
University of Pennsylvania
Penn is also a relative newcomer to the world of three-year JD/MBA programs, having introduced its own in 2008. Penn’s JD/MBA admissions process is a bit if a hybrid of the two programs described above: Prospective students submit one application through Penn’s Wharton School, but then must wait on separate decisions from Wharton and Penn Law. Also, in Penn’s case applicants need to submit both an LSAT score and a GMAT or GRE score. Current 1L Penn Law students may also apply to the program.
Penn touts its JD/MBA program as being the most integrated such program at any top school. Students in Penn’s JD/MBA program spend their first year at Penn Law. Their second year includes Wharton’s typical core courses and more law classes, and then their third year covers more blended coursework as well as a capstone course. Most Penn JD/MBA students live in or around Philadelphia’s Center City.
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