“Why?” That’s the question that inevitably follows after I say that I’m a dual-degree graduate student pursuing a JD/MBA. After all, it is a valid question. Each alone is a considerable amount of work and time. So, why would I choose to take on both?
The simple answer is that I — like so many others — find value in the dual degree. Personally, I can already see how the Full-Time MBA program and its curriculum will be beneficial throughout my career and life. Law and business complement each other and, when combined, they set me up for future success and open up a myriad of career paths to me.
The long answer is that I had always planned on going to law school, but when the time came to apply, I paused because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with my legal degree. I was always business-minded as well and didn’t see myself just practicing law at a firm or litigating in a courtroom. When I began to look more deeply into graduate studies, I came across the JD/MBA dual-degree program at Michigan State University and immediately knew it was what I wanted to pursue, sensing it would be a great fit for my future aspirations in corporate law. I was attracted to the critical thinking and analytical skills acquired through the pursuit of a law degree. But the Broad MBA offered something different and unique: quantitative and collaborative skills. I recognized that both were complementary and both would be necessary for my success.
I’ve heard from many lawyers that if they had gotten their MBA, they would be able to excel much further in their careers. That’s not to say that they’re not already successful; the additional degree is something they recognize would deepen their value and abilities in their current positions. Although a J.D. denotes a mastery of the law, an MBA denotes a mastery of business concepts, which is essential in today’s world.
Through the Broad MBA, I am able to supplement my law school experiences in a way that will set me — and any law school student — up for success. Many attorneys run their own practices. Many lawyers practice corporate law. A significant portion of CEOs and other C-suite executives have law school experience. All of these examples, and many more along these lines, involve business aspects. My studies through the MBA program only augment my education and abilities post-graduation and my capacity to achieve. Understanding business concepts, how to effectively communicate and present thoughts and ideas and how to work with and manage teams are all essential parts of any profession. This is the value that the MBA program brings. There are many other dual-degree students in the MBA program who have had the same realization: an MBA is beneficial to all students and career paths, not just for business in its strictest sense.
The Broad College is the perfect place to complete the MBA side of this dual degree. First, everyone in the Full-Time MBA program office is supportive and extremely helpful. As a dual-degree student with one foot in the law school and the other in Broad, it can be challenging to understand and navigate the various requirements. However, Broad College staff are extremely helpful and have been there every step of the way to assist me and all of my fellow dual-degree students to navigate the program requirements and curriculum and to support us in any way necessary.
My experience so far has shown me that I have made the right choice in pursuing a dual degree. It has been much different from my first year of law school in a way that highlights the benefits of a Broad MBA. In contrast to law school, there is a greater focus on teamwork and collaboration (shoutout to Team 12!) through classwork and dedicated courses such as MBA 808: Leadership and Teamwork. There has been a stronger emphasis on career development and networking through coursework and the support of the Russell Palmer Career Management Center. Also, thanks to classes in finance and supply chain, I will become a lawyer who isn’t afraid of math — contrary to popular belief!
To touch more on the teamwork aspect, what is unique about the MBA at MSU is that individuals come from a myriad of backgrounds, varying degrees of experience and a wide range of knowledge and skills. Getting to work with a team, you learn from them and their experiences, which help you grow as an individual and a future professional as well. I know I have learned so much from my teammates, both in and out of the classroom. They’re amazing people I would not have had the privilege of meeting and working with if I had not been part of the program — and the same goes for all of the first- and second-year students I interact with at Broad!
With regard to the actual structure of the program, as a JD/MBA student, I have chosen to begin my MBA year after my first year of law school. However, some choose to start after their second year. Either way, while law school is three years and the MBA is two years when pursued separately, the combined dual-degree program is only four years long. This is because credits from each count toward the other as part of the program. Though it adds extra time to my graduate studies, it’s a lifetime of knowledge and experience that ensures I will be set for whatever career I choose. Many of those same lawyers who said they’d be further along with an MBA don’t have the time or wouldn’t want to come back later on in their careers to get it. So, being able to do it now as part of a dual-degree program is very beneficial.
Overall, I highly recommend that if you are a student looking to pursue a J.D. that you also pursue a dual degree through Broad and earn your MBA as well! It will be the best decision you make that will have a positive impact on your future for years after you graduate.