Updated on April 29, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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Graduate school is increasingly vital for success in today’s marketplace. Bachelor’s degrees are becoming so prevalent as to diminish their value to employers. While you can still forge into a brilliant future with an undergraduate degree, you will likely need a master’s degree if you wish to attain a seat in management or the corporate suites.

An MBA or master's degree seems to be the degree of choice, especially for mid- to late-career professionals. However, even graduate degrees are losing some of its power in the job market. Thus, academia is responding with master's and MBA dual degree programs, which allows current students to emerge from a business school with both an MBA and a Master of Science or another business degree. This gives MBA students attending business schools two degrees in virtually the same time it takes to complete one full-time online MBA program, even with the additional courses, which is about a year and a half or two years at most schools. You can show not only expertise in your chosen field but bolster that with the business knowledge you need to thrive or gain an executive education to make sure your academics match what companies are looking for in candidates. Domestic and international recruiters will be very interested to see you apply your learning from your MBA dual degree program in their office.


What Is a Dual MBA Degree?

Dual degree MBA program initiatives are designed to allow you to graduate with two graduate degrees (both an MBA and a master's) in approximately the same time frame for completing one, while still maintaining the same standards and curriculum as standalone graduate degrees and with additional electives.

Dual degree programs making use of this innovation are popping up all over and offering students this option in an all-in-one package. That is, students are admitted to dual degree MBA programs that meet all their academic needs. Traditionally, students would have to first complete the requirements to earn an MBA and then go through a new application process prior to working on their second degree. This old method took much more time than the new, streamlined approach, which improves accessibility to high-level university degrees and staff development for companies.

Dual degree MBA programs offer a creative approach for students who know exactly the sort of career they wish to pursue. Frequently, these degrees involve a heavy schedule and little, if any, time off from class, whether you take courses online or on campus. Nevertheless, with a strong work ethic and a firm idea of one’s goals, a dual MBA program at a business college is a fantastic way to launch a brilliant career. These are also often available in the same format as other online MBA programs or graduate degree programs.

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Pros and Cons of a Dual MBA Degree Program


Some people call dual-degree holders a double threat. That’s because they have mastered two professional fields and can thus perform multiple tasks and offer twice the abilities of a single-degree holder. With a dual MBA, you will have twice the number of professional opportunities to search for upon graduation. However, most enter a dual-degree program with the intention of making one field their primary and then using their other degree to inform their career. Thus, you might make business your focus but then rely on your law degree to inform your investment banking activities. Thorough knowledge of corporate law will make you an expert deal-maker that any mergers and acquisitions team would love to have aboard.

An added benefit to a dual-degree program is the fact that you will vastly increase your network. For instance, most MBA alumni have formed collegial community bonds that help bolster their professional careers for years. In fact, one of the core reasons people pursue an MBA is for contacts, support, and networking opportunities, even with faculty. Now, imagine if you had the opportunity to meet approximately the same number of people in your other favorite field? Not only would you emerge a double threat, but you’ll have twice the professional network behind you.


A dual MBA program is not without its downsides. The chief problem is the sheer volume of work. An MBA is difficult enough, now imagine adding a law degree on top of that. Now, you’ll have to complete both in the time it takes other students to complete just one. If you have a family, they are sure to miss you during your long hours in the library, and as a professional with a family, it will be difficult to hold a job during your time in school.

You will also have to shoulder the full brunt of the tuition expenses. Few employers will be willing to pitch in tuition reimbursement if you can’t work for, say, five years. That leaves you relying on financial aid or paying your own way. Employers might also look askance at your choice of a dual-degree program.

That is, employers might see a dual-degree as an indication that you are hedging your bets and might be looking to quit and pursue another field at any moment. You might find this attitude particularly common in jobs where your second degree is less useful, which leads to another difficulty. Not every job will necessitate a second degree. If you have a JD/MBA, not every position in business will need your legal expertise. Thus, that aspect of your training won’t be useful, which may be frustrating for you. You also might not make as much money as you’d like, weakening the ROI of your dual degree.

What Dual Degree Programs are Available?

There are many degrees that are now paired with the lauded MBA. These options are thrilling for students who know they will need expertise in two fields if they are to achieve the successes they desire.

Ultimately, if you are planning a long career in nearly any field, an MBA will be helpful. After you have mastered your field and are looking to move into a managerial position, the administrative and leadership aspects of the MBA will be highly desired. Under a traditional model, you could choose a master’s degree in your field and then later explore your need for an MBA. On the other hand, some pursue an MBA that is paired with a concentration that suits their industry or profession. The dual MBA approach ensures that you have the skills to run an organization plus the expertise required in your industry.

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A Juris Doctor (JD) degree is a typical degree for attorneys. When combined with an MBA, students will have a head full of both law and business administration. This is a potent combination that can lead to extremely successful careers.

You might choose to become an investment banker who is able to work on high-level corporate transactions that involve deep knowledge of the content of applicable law. On the other hand, you could choose to be a Bar-certified attorney who specializes in corporate law. Either way you are sure to work on the same deals, just on different parts depending on your chosen focus area. This is a popular dual degree choice for aspiring mergers and acquisitions professionals. It’s also popular for those who wish to work on public deals that involve government oversight, which requires lots of legal work. You’ll need to focus your MBA degree in finance, but your hard work will be richly rewarded.


It may seem incongruous at first, but there are top programs that offer a Medical Doctor (MD) degree in conjunction with an MBA. That is because there are many students who aspire to go beyond clinical work and into the business realm. Further, there may be aspiring business leaders that wish to excel in the healthcare industry.

The MBA portion of your education will enable you to effectively manage a private medical practice, but it just as easily could launch you into the upper reaches of hospital administration. You might also have a fantastic idea for a new medical technology or procedure that needs keen business acumen to ensure that its market debut is a stellar success for patients and investors alike.

In fact, you can opt to not practice medicine at all. Rather, you can leverage your medical knowledge to lend credibility and authority to a career as a healthcare management consultant. Other options include a career in health and public policy, where your deep medical knowledge can inform your administrative duties and your MBA can help you communicate with the public through social media or events.


Market forces often inform public policy, and the reverse can also be true. A Master of Public Administration (MPA) or a Master of Public Policy (MPP) is thus a perfect match for an MBA. The end goal of this dual degree is often for the student to attain a leadership position in government, an NGO, or a consultancy.

To complete this degree, you’ll study all the courses pertinent to public policy. For instance, you’ll study statistical analysis, data science, microeconomics, political science, and policy analysis. You’ll also be steeped in MBA coursework, including topics such as organizational leadership, supply chain, strategic management, financial accounting, corporate responsibility, and business ethics, among others.

If you choose to take each degree separately, you’d spend at least four years in school. However, dual degree programs are geared towards a three-year timetable, yet demand that you take the same number of courses. To help you navigate the intense academic calendar, you’ll have advisers for each part of your degree to provide you with info and help guide you toward the best courses for your career path.


Just as there are MD/MBA programs, so there programs that pair an MBA with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This degree is a fantastic opportunity for a practicing nurse to accelerate their career into administration or some sort of entrepreneurship. There are many opportunities for MSN/MBA degree holders.

In fact, this degree can help you insert your overall philosophy of nursing into the administration arena. That is, your administrative decisions can be tempered by a deep sense of caring for patients and their well-being. Further, since nurses are at the front lines of healthcare, they often are the first ones to register inefficiencies and other organizational problems. With your MSN/MBA dual degree, you can conjoin best business practices, leadership, and your nurse’s intuitions to help heal sick healthcare systems. Thus, you can ensure better outcomes for nurses, doctors, and patients alike. Along the way, your employers will applaud your leadership.

MSN/MBA programs can be focused to cater to your specific area of interest. You might choose to concentrate on issues related to information technology, management, health policy, or population management. If you choose to focus on IT, for instance, you might discover better ways to manage patient records so as to avoid harmful drug interactions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a dual specialization and a dual degree program?

Unlike a dual specialization, in which you’ll take extra courses in two subjects, such as supply chain management and administration, a dual degree actually affects the way you apply for your next degree. Earning a dual degree means that you must be accepted to both graduate programs separately, whereas a dual specialization only requires a single application and acceptance while providing you with a few extra classes to bulk up your knowledge.

Is a dual degree program right for you?

A dual degree program is most often right for someone who is either equally interested in two fields of learning or who knows that they are looking to make their way into a career that requires a very high level of education. Some may need to earn doctoral degrees, but others simply need to expand their expertise to include a variety of pertinent information. This is especially important for those who need specialized knowledge in business and a very different field. If this is you, then you might want to consider earning a dual degree of this kind.

Will you earn more money with a dual degree?

One of the best things about a dual degree is that it provides you with more options in your professional life. While this may not earn you more money in the short run, it should allow you to quickly gain promotions, prove your expertise, and gain access to career options that may not be open to everyone. Typically a promotion does provide you an increase in your salary, which is where a dual MBA can help you. Additionally, you will save money in the process of earning your degrees. Earning them over a shorter period of time will mean less money spent and a greater return on investment overall.

What kind of dual degree programs are available?

Most commonly, graduate students tend to combine master’s degrees and professional degrees rather than multiple master’s. This might mean earning an MBA and a Master of Science or Arts, or you could earn a Master of Public Policy degree along with your chosen MS or MA degree. Other common choices include a Master of Public Health, Master of Social Work, Master of Engineering, and more. An MBA is the most commonly blended degree of all available options. This is because, no matter your specialty, learning more about business in general will always be a good way of earning a higher position in nearly any company.

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