As a follow-on to yesterday’s post on joint MBA + Master’s programs and is it easier to get in, here are some specifics on how things are evaluated.
Most universities handle admissions separately for each of their schools. It’s like each school — the business school, the law school — is operating individually within the same campus. This is true even when they collaborate on a joint-degree program to let you pursue both degrees concurrently in less time overall. This means that the different programs will often evaluate apps independently — so, you might get into one, or the other, or both, or neither. You need to be prepared for any of these possibilities. There are some exceptions, notably the Carey JD/MBA (fka the Wharton Penn Law three-year program) and the Kellogg JD/MBA, where decisions to both programs are done in tandem and you’re committing to do the joint degree in advance; you can’t get into the JD/MBA at these schools and then drop the law part and only do the MBA. At many other schools and programs, evaluation of apps is independent and you can thus choose which one you do if you’re lucky enough to get admitted to both..
If you get into the other master’s program but not the bschool, are you still going to go, just for the master’s solo and skip the MBA? Would there possibly be an option to reapply to the business school once you’re on campus and have started the master’s program? If there is, are you willing to take that risk? You still might not get in as a reapplicant. Walk through all these different situations for yourself. It’ll help you clarify your own priorities. Also, for these schools that evaluate independently, they frequently keep the other school’s decision from the partner school until decisions have been made on both programs. It’s done that way in an attempt to be fair to the candidates, so that nobody is influenced by the other school’s action.
In some cases, the decisions come out at different times, yet you’ll need to put a deposit down potentially without knowing the answer from the other program. This is the case with Kennedy School and its partner MBA programs like Tuck and Stanford, if you apply in Round 1. Eek! Pay attention to deadlines and look carefully at what the different programs recommend for timing of apps. Stanford has guidelines on its MBA website when you should be targeting which of their programs due to these issues.
In other cases, such as with Wharton Lauder and Wharton HCM, and MIT LGO, if you’re not accepted by the more specialized track, the bschool will still consider you for the “standard” MBA in that round. We do hear of this working out sometimes, where the BSer makes it into the underlying MBA, but it’s not altogether common. If you’re not qualified for the specialized piece and you don’t pitch it sufficiently, then chances are you haven’t made a case for why you belong at that school at all. It’s also not the biggest vote of confidence in your candidacy if you can’t articulate interest enough in the more specific program; usually the key to success for that is being really clear and detailed on your goals and why you belong there. If you haven’t managed to that for the more specialized case (which actually is often easier to do than for the larger-population bschool class) then we’re not seeing how you’ll be successful at it otherwise. That’s just us though. The adcoms do try to stay open-minded in these evaluations, and they’re done by different teams, so who knows, perhaps you can impress one set of readers even if you haven’t made your case well enough for the other. It can happen.
You’re increasing the level of complexity overall with your strategy when you’re layering in another separate degree program, though we’ve helped BSers with pretty much any combo you can name. We’ve seen plenty of former clients get into Harvard Kennedy School with their program with HBS, MIT, Stanford, Wharton and Tuck, as well as the MIT LGO, Wharton Healthcare Management Program and Wharton Lauder, all of the JD/MBA tracks at UPenn, Kellogg/Northwester and Columbia, and Columbia SIPA, Berkeley MPP,
Woodrow Wilson UPDATE 6/27/20: RENAMED Princeton School of Public and International Affairs because racism. /UPDATE and Cornell, NYU, and many many others. We’ve also worked with BSers who got into the Stanford MBA and Stanford MSx through their joint-application option (which is not a joint degree, it’s a way to apply to the separate programs through one application). We’re happy to help advise you on your plans and execution. We support essay reviews for any of these with our Essay Decimator service (each application to a separate school usually requires a purchase of its own Essay Decimator; the exception is if the joint program requires only one set of essays to be considered to both schools, like the Stanford MBA/MSx or the new NYU Stern MBA options).
Hopefully we’ve made one point clear: You cannot expect it to be “easier” to get in to any highly competitive full-time MBA program simply by adding one of these other master’s programs to the mix. It will require significantly more work and planning to get your application strategy in line — it introduces a lot more complexity, and many of these other master’s programs are almost as competitive as the MBA. Or, even if the program gets fewer applications in total, the scrutiny that each app goes through is just as great if not greater. The admissions teams need to be convinced that what you’re pitching is viable and the best path for you, and that you’ll make proper use of the opportunity, and you won’t struggle. These programs are even more work than a regular MBA and they’re not for the faint of heart! If you’re able to show proper motivation, and position your message effectively in the pitch, then you can absolutely make it happen.
Questions on any specific track are welcome – you can post them in the comments and we’re happy to provide a sounding board. What programs are you considering? Which new ones have you heard of that sound interesting?