This is the last of the 3-part series on dual degrees. If you’re just tuning in, the first post was from a guest blogger who is currently doing a JD/MPH at Boston University. In the second post, I described my own experience as a JD/MALD at BU and The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
For this final post in the series, I asked a few of my dual degree colleagues to share their thoughts and advice. The responses come from a diverse set of degrees (JD/MA, JD/MBA, JD/MPH, JD/MALD) but interestingly are very similar. Enjoy!
1. What one piece of advice would you give to students considering a dual degree program?
Don’t just pursue a second degree just because you can. You should have a career path in mind where it would be advantageous to have two different sets of training.
Really consider why you are getting the second degree; how will it get you where you want to be, and will it in fact help? Almost every degree requires an extra year or semester. They also require extra work while doing a demanding graduate program. You take on extra costs in terms of time-management, tuition, lost wages, and starting a career later than with a single degree.
Looking beyond academics, think about how the extra time at school will impact your life not only economically, but also socially. My program is at two separate schools and going back to grad school was tough – everyone I knew had graduated, it was a pretty isolating experience.
Think about how you can leverage both programs – take classes that complement each other and you can build a really strong and rich interdisciplinary experience.
2. When would you recommend applying for a dual degree program?
I think it is better to apply to the programs at the same time. If you only got into one of the two programs, you could always start that program and apply to the other one later.
I think it somewhat depends on the dual-degree program schedule. Nearly every dual-degree program, where one component is a JD, starts the non-JD component after the first year. Thus, you can apply without penalty during your first year or summer. That said, It is a time commitment to prepare an application, and study for the GMAT/GRE, time which could be spent studying or working. If you are sure you want a dual-degree, unless you think your application will be stronger, for whatever reason, by waiting a year, I would recommend applying to both programs at once.
I applied to both programs at the same time. But I didn’t get in where I wanted. So during my first year at grad school, I reapplied to a different set of schools. It worked for me, but doing law school applications between midterms and finals was difficult.
I think you can apply whenever makes sense for you. Obviously it’s harder to do applications while you’re in school (particularly during 1L year), but I know people who have done it; it’s not impossible. You shouldn’t be discouraged from considering a dual degree just because you’re already in school.
3. Best part about being a dual degree student?
The opportunity to share what I learn at one school with the students who only attend the other.
If you choose right, you get two degrees for (almost) the price of one, and never have to leave a career/job again to go back to school.
Marketability. My dream job is in a field where most people have Master’s Degrees, I have a great competitive advantage with the JD.
Learning about the same subjects from two different perspectives.