We’ve previously spoken of applying for an MBA along with another graduate degree and today we’ll offer additional points to consider as you’re thinking about dual-degree application strategy, including the perennial question of “Is it easier to get in?????”
- New programs typically do not get that much interest, so app volumes are usually lower, which means that yes, it can be easier to get accepted — at least to the new program.
- However, even though these programs are still quite new, HBS MBA / MS in engineering is an exception, and so is Berkeley’s new M.E.T. In addition, now that HBS has placed so much emphasis on its MBA / MS, we predict that Stanford will get more interest in its joint MBA/engineering option too — even though it’s not really the same focus. These different programs are DIFFERENT and so you really need to do your homework on what they will teach you and who they’re a fit for.
- If you’re going for a more niche program then it’s possibly a different story. Niche programs are always easier to get into, so if you’re eyeing that MBA / DDS program (for dentists) then you’re going to sail right in. However, be prepared to ONLY get into the other Master’s and not the MBA.
- Even if there isn’t a formalized joint-program track developed between the bschool and whichever other discipline you’re interested in, you could still construct a plan to go for an MBA plus some other Master’s degree. If you have a good reason for this, then it’s worth investigating — though most universities have already created collaborations between business and the other schools on campus with the most natural synergies. But if you have a specific interest (and a credible background) then there’s no reason why you can’t pursue separate degrees — probably not concurrently but you never know if there are chances to build a customized educational path. An individual plan well constructed with clear rationality would always be considered by a school.
The analysis you need to do for yourself before attacking any app strategy for a joint-degree master’s program includes questions like:
- Do you NEED the other Master’s? Why not just focus on a concentration at bschool, for example in analytics? Make sure that the degrees are not duplicative, and you know why you need them both. HKS and HBS both have a lot of overlap in some respects.
- Do you have your career goals fully defined, and can you articulate them? Most joint-degree programs only make sense for a small slice of the MBA population. Do you know why you are trying for this specific combo? Even a school that places less emphasis on goals in their MBA candidates will have a different view when evaluating an applicant to one of these joint-degree opportunities. They need to know WHY you feel it’s the right move, and that usually needs to be presented based on fit to the specifics of the joint-degree program. Meaning, CAREER GOALS. And, meaning NOW. You wouldn’t want to go to medical school if you weren’t planning on practicing medicine right away. Similarly, does it really make sense to say you need to get this fancy engineering-focused or design-focused Master’s along with the MBA if you’re not going to start some tech venture now? Why would you study stuff today if you’re not going to use it? We have trouble seeing how that argument works. In most cases, going for the new HBS MBA/MS is going to make sense only if you’re saying you want to lead a tech company right away — or even better, if you’re already leading one or have tried to do so in the past. A tech startup as a long term goal does not justify the need for a tech degree today. But that’s just us; you’ll need to pitch things based on how YOU feel they make the most sense for the specifics of your life and plans.
- Are you qualified — and is your messaging up to snuff? If your college academics are poor then it’s going to be a tough sell to go for a double degree of any type. A joint program is more work. You have more to do. You have more requirements to satisfy — and if you flailed in undergrad or didn’t show yourself to be motivated by school before, then how are you going to convince the adcoms now that you’re a changed person with a different attitude? If you have a shaky set of transcripts then this is setting yourself up for a very big lift in your apps this year.
- Do you need to apply to the other program NOW? This is a key strategy for someone with a lower GPA to consider. Depending on the exact combo of programs you’re looking at, it might be easier to get into one of the programs, and then once you start there, in the fall of your first year, apply to the other program as well. Not all joint-degree programs offer this opportunity, but many of them do. In some cases it means extending your overall education — for example, a 3-year JD/MBA may require 4 years — but it might be easier for the other program to say “yes” to you if you’re already a student at their university. This is risky, obviously, since it might not work, and you’ll need to evaluate the options individually to see if each one on its own would be sufficient to get you where you want to go, or if there are other routes available midway. Not all programs have this option; for example, if you want to do Wharton Lauder you must apply to Wharton Lauder. But, if you’re interested in HKS, you could pursue that path in many, many ways, including MIT, Wharton, Stanford or Tuck MBA, etc. Research your options carefully.
More thoughts on the joint-degree strategy here: How do the schools decide?