Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

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Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby steindle » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:10 pm

I am very much fascinated with both Law and Public Policy -- and especially the interplay of the two. Here in Pittsburgh, where I will likely remain for at least the next few years, there are two very attractive and viable options to combine those majors: A program linking Pitt Law with Pitt's Graduate School of Public & International Studies (GSPIA) and a program between Pitt Law and Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School of Public Policy.

Both (particularly the latter) sound tailor-made for me, but I have a few concerns.

1) Has anyone here done a similar joint program?
2) It will take 4 years in total to finish both programs -- will the extra year out of the workforce be worth it?
3) Obviously this will also result in an increase in tuition. Will my job prospects and payscale likely expand enough to account for the higher tuition?

Thanks for your help, as always!

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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby Vail67 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:40 am



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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby FuturehoyaLawya » Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:17 pm

i completed a MPP, and even got accepted to Carnegie Mellon with the desire to do exactly that. The Joint MPP/JD is a good option, but it depends on the lawschool and the MPP program. I think from a financial perspective, it also really depends on what you want to do with it and your long-term future plans.

If you were applying to do Princeton's MPP program (which gives most of its graduate students full rides) and Stanford Law, I would say it is definitely worth it (and by all means apply!). Or Harvard's MPP and Harvard Law, I think the costs would also be worth it (even if your paying sticker for both). If your going to a top-14 law school and also that school has a solid MPP program--go for it. Or just take classes in the MPP department!

But for Pitt/Carnegie Mellon, I don't its on the same level. The MPP program is highly respected and oftentimes many people end up doing consulting or highly technical careers that pay very well. But, MPP programs can be very expensive.......

I am not sure how Pitt law is ranked or job prospects coming out of Pitt....but I don't think it is on the same par as the policy school (another reason I decided not to pursue a law degree there). To be honest, unless your getting a full ride, which I got from Carnegie Mellon and declined, I wouldn't try to do both. The costs will outweigh the financial benefits at the end. And four a very long time to not work and only live off of loans. I would either apply to lawschool or policy school, since your restricted.....and not both. Or apply to both and see what the aid packages are looking like.. If your going to just be taking out loans for two degrees, then I wouldn't do it....unless it was a top-14.


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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby Alexandria » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:27 pm

I considered this because Michigan's PP school is so well-regarded, and the subject matter interests me. And maybe I would have done it if I had gone straight through from undergrad or had taken just one or two years off. But the general consensus seems to be that the MPP doesn't really get you anything that a JD (at least a T14 JD) can't get you, so I decided the extra year of tuition and the delay in earnings weren't worth it.


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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby CWF V » Mon Oct 27, 2008 10:01 am

I know quite a few dual-degrees who, upon graduating, have said that they really use one or the other as they establish themselves in the job market. A JD will cover much of the same ground, plus you'll be take electives in policy classes.

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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby Barry Zuckercorn » Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:06 am

Hey, just thought I'd offer my two cents, as I'm looking at the same program and other joint programs. I've talked to about 10 people who have done joint programs (4 at W&M and then a big mix, one guy at Michigan, GMU, etc.). Everyone I've talked to has encouraged me to do the joint degree as they think it has helped them get where they're at. That said, when I asked if it was necessary to do what I want to do (develop legislation) they said it might not be necessary but it definitely helps to distinguish yourself in the job market.

At W&M one of the guys I talked to who was currently in the program said it really helped for networking as they were introduced to more people and treated better by the MPP administration (odd, I know).

Additionally, I've talked to about 5 people who work in policy development at the state and federal level and they have said that they see a ton of JDs out there and MPP/MPAs as well, and that having both would have helped them. Again, I asked if it was necessary, and while they said it was not, they all said they would like to see it in a person they were interviewing. I did ask if they thought taking a few classes or receiving a cert. would cover it and they didn't seem to think that would carry much weight, just saying.

So I know it's not a great sample size (for LSAT freaks) but I have solicited a decent amount of real world advice.

My advice is to email the admissions officers for the joint programs (approach the MPP programs, they're a little easier and aren't as inundated with applications just yet) and ask for the email addresses of recent graduates of the joint programs and then email those people. Augment that by talking to people in the field you think you want to get into, and ask tough questions. These people are the ones you want answering your quesitons.

Of course, at the end of the day you have to make the financial decision too. Weigh your options with the advice you've received and ask yourself if it makes fiscal sense. If you can get money from the law school or policy school then I would definitely think about doing it. As one guy from W&M working in CA state govt. said, it removed him from the workforce for one more year, but gave him a lot more flexibility in his career, so weigh the pros and cons and good luck!


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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby AllBusiness » Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:04 pm

Top for fresh perspectives from the TLS posters of 2010.

I am considering enrolling in this program at GW. I received a really generous scholarship offer from the law school (90K) but nothing from the policy department. Also, I am not sure what sort of work I would want to pursue upon graduating. My primary consideration right now is money. Enrolling in this program would entail paying another year's tuition and living expenses in DC, which I would finance almost entirely with loans. Would the MPP be worth it? Would it open doors to me that a JD alone would not?

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.


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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby libertines » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:04 pm

If you're looking for govt (particularly something like a hill staffer) I'm under the impression it doesn't make that much of a difference. I spoke to a former staffer who said that a JD and MPP just sort of overlap and, in that town, JD > MPP, and they didn't think it would be worth the extra money. Just one person, so take it fwiw.

They did make a point to recommend doing the joint degree in something else, like getting an MBA, and that could open a few more doors on the hill, but MPP was viewed more as just a duplicate.

Hope this helps a bit.

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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby sportsaholic763 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:29 am

Bump for ITE. Assuming it is not worthwhile but I would love to hear otherwise.


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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby brownpride » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:44 pm

Came here to say absolutely not - do NOT do it. If you have no money constraints and don't mind the extra year out of the workforce then that's different, but otherwise, no. I'm currently doing my MPP at a top school, having deferred to complete it before entering law school this fall. Doing it separate from my JD, not as a joint JD/MPP, but that doesn't change the validity of what I'm going to say. Here are my thoughts:
1. It will NOT help you in being a private sector lawyer. Just to be clear. A firm won't give a damn if you have an extra degree unless it's something extremely rare (like a Masters in Econ from LSE or an Econ PhD from a top school).
2. If you want to be a PI/govt lawyer then still, it will NOT give you a substantial enough boost over what the JD will already give you. I know there's a huge debate about the JD being a versatile degree or not, since it teaches you law and not policy. I thought the same thing - which is why I went for it. A JD does teach you law, but a) it is a more respected degree, and b) you can cross-enroll at your law school and take classes in the govt department.
3. If you want to do it for politics - look at top politicians, people who have made it to the presidency, cabinet, etc. How many have JDs and how many have MPPs? Some senators have MPPs, but very few. A ton have JDs. Correlation doesnt equal causation, but the point I'm trying to make is that you can get wherever you want to with a JD. Especially if it's a JD from a top school - HYSCCN - it shows your strong intellectual ability and will open the door to politics.
4. If you want to do it for policymaking one day - #3 still applies. You can do it with a JD.

The opportunity and financial cost of an extra year is not worth it IMO. I wanted to do an MPP since I thought I don't want to be a career lawyer but want to enter government and policy one day. Even then, I now realize I should have gone straight to law school and just taken some options there. I highly advocate against a joint JD/MPP unless you have some good reasons.

Feel free to PM me if you have questions.

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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby ManOfTheMinute » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:49 pm


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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby Keithustus » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:18 pm

I would be very curious, since this topic is so old, what the perspective would be now of someone who earlier in the thread who has now gotten the degree and been in the job market with a dual degree for a little while...?

Do you all think the calculus changes when you don't have to pay for the the time in school? I've got four years of GI Bill benefits, so the only differences for me in adding on another year of school is losing one year to being in school, and getting another year's worth of the government paying me 115% of the tuition (yes, I will actually earn money as a student) and more education.

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Re: Joint JD/MPP Programs: Worth it?

Postby twenty » Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:55 pm

Keithustus wrote:Do you all think the calculus changes when you don't have to pay for the the time in school?

Absolutely. While I'm the first person to warn people away from joint degrees, I feel like the JD/MBA or the JD/MPA (for PI work) is absolutely worth it if you're going for free. It even outweighs the lost year of paid-work when you go to school for an extra year.

(Disclaimer: MPA student here being funded by your tax dollars.)

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