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Question: What Is a Dual Degree MBA Program?

Answer: A dual degree MBA program is a program that allows students to jointly earn a Master of Business Administration and a complementary graduate degree in a wide range of fields, including law, medicine, education, healthcare, public policy, science, mathematics, and engineering. Students in a dual degree program can generally complete the two degrees concurrently in less time that it would take to complete the two programs sequentially.

Dual MBA Programs

Many business schools offer students the option of pursuing what is know as a dual or joint degree program, which involves enrolling in the school’s MBA program and an additional graduate program at the same time. There are a wide variety of complementary graduate degrees that may be earned concurrently with an MBA, and these dual degree programs are structured in a similar manner: students enroll in two graduate programs and follow a pathway to completing the core requirements for each degree. Students in a dual degree program are often able to forgo some of the elective coursework that is typically taken during the second year of an MBA program and substitute coursework from the other degree program. There may also be some courses that count toward crediting requirements in both programs. As a result, students are able to complete an MBA and a second degree in fewer semesters than it would otherwise take to finish the two degrees separately. For example, a dual MBA/MD degree program might take a student five years of full-time enrollment to complete, while earning the two degrees separately would take a minimum of six years.

Some of the more common dual degree programs include an MBA with a degree in medicine, nursing, law, public health, public policy, international affairs, environmental studies, education, mathematics, science, information technology, or engineering. These dual degree options may include any of the following pairings:

  • MBA/Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
  • MBA/Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • MBA/Juris Doctor (JD)
  • MBA/Master of Education (MEd)
  • MBA/Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • MBA/Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • MBA/Master of International Affairs (MIA)
  • MBA/Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • MBA/Master of Public Health (MPH)
  • MBA/Master of Public Policy (MPP)
  • MBA/Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
  • MBA/Master of Social Work (MSW)

How Dual Degree MBA Programs Are Structured

There are a variety of ways in which dual degree MBA programs may be structured. In some cases, students begin with one year of MBA coursework and then initiate the complementary degree program the following year, while other programs allow students to begin the MBA curriculum after completing one or two semesters in the other degree program. Depending on the program and type of dual degree being pursued, it may also be possible to take courses in both programs concurrently. While many dual programs are set up so that students earn both degrees from the same university – e.g., from a school of business and a school of medicine that are part of the same institution – there are also programs that have arrangements with other universities, which allows students to complete the second degree through a graduate program offered at the other institution.

Admissions to Dual Degree Programs

As a general rule, students interested in pursuing an MBA with a dual degree must meet the admissions criteria for both degree programs. Often this means applying separately to each program. For example, a student aiming to earn a joint MBA/Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) would need to meet the admissions requirements for the MBA program, which might include taking the GMAT exam and completing certain undergraduate prerequisites. In addition, that student would have to meet the admissions requirements for the MSCS program, which might include a different set of undergraduate prerequisites. Some dual degree programs require students to gain admission to both programs before initiating their first year of studies. Other programs allow students to apply to a second degree program during their first year of MBA enrollment. The admissions process varies by program, so potential applicants should inquire with admissions officers at their programs of interest for more detailed information.


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