How to approach Joint Programs in Application (e.g. JD/MBA)

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How to approach Joint Programs in Application (e.g. JD/MBA)

Postby alexlevanti » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:12 am

I am applying this fall for joint program JD/MBA. To keep this a general question helpful to others, how does one best approach a joint-degree application, in terms of focus of the application in its entirety?

What I mean is, the law school is only deciding upon admission to a law program -- and in many cases, if I were admitted to the law program and not the MBA, I would be happy to pursue only the law degree. In many ways that makes me want to write just a regular application to law school, simply noting that I am simultaneously applying for the MBA program and leave that up to the other school. Then I wonder if that would leave questions unanswered that admissions folks at the law school would want me to have answered (i.e., why a joint degree?).

What are thoughts on what should be the breakdown of a good law application (e.g. personal statement) between focusing on the joint program entirely, versus focusing on going to law school (with a brief, albeit thorough explanation as to why you are also applying to the joint program, but the bulk of those reasons would be in that other application). Two sides of this continuum, where makes the most sense to position one's application focus?

Tricky question that's hard to really articulate... any advice would be very helpful. Thanks!

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Re: How to approach Joint Programs in Application (e.g. JD/MBA)

Postby yuzu » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:54 pm

May depend on the school. At least for HLS/HBS admission is pretty independent. Law schools don't really care that much about what you want to do - your PS can be about anything (e.g. what you learned about life from your experiences underwater basket weaving), and the rest is GPA and LSAT, and so there's not really any requirement that you talk about your MBA interests or future plans. I don't think I would mention an MBA in your law school personal statement; it simply makes you seem less interested in law school. The law school doesn't much care about your joint degree, and for all they know you'll get denied at the business school anyway.

The MBA application is where it gets tricky. You'll need to show a career plan, and if they know about your JD application, that career plan should show that a JD is useful for you, but that an MBA is also for some reason very important. Showing them a convincing middle path for why you want a JD/MBA is the hard part. They don't want to hear you say "i want to be a lawyer," but if you say "i want to be an entrepreneur," the business school will question why you are getting a JD. You need to tell them why the JD makes sense but the MBA is critical to your career plans.

Maybe at some MBA programs you could get away with not mentioning the JD on your application? I am not sure.

It sounds like you don't care as much about the MBA - keep in mind some schools let you apply for MBA as a 1L. You might want to focus on law school for now and then try your luck next year wherever you end up.

Also, law school wants academic recommendations (saying you can write) and business school wants professional recommendations (saying you can lead). That makes the LoR process pretty burdensome for a joint degree application. Plus each business school has their own LoR format - you may need five recommenders total (2 acad + 3 pro), and the MBA recommenders will each have to write letters for each business school, plus one will have to write an LSAC letter.

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