In a bleak employment market, with too many candidates vying for too few jobs, standing out from the crowd is not easy. A business school degree, rather than being a point of differentiation, is now often a common denominator. How, then, does an eager MBA student gain an edge on the competition? Some students think they have found an answer in a joint degree: a fusion of the traditional MBA with a master’s degree in an entirely different discipline. More, according to this view, is better.
Certainly, joint degree programs have become increasingly popular in recent years, attracting hyper-ambitious students with the lure of cross-disciplinary training, a competitive edge, and more bang for the buck—as joint degrees take less time (and thus less money) than would taking two different masters’ degrees separately.
Graduate schools are busily adding different master’s degree combinations to their current offerings. Some experts, however, question the value of these programs. There is also the price to students in terms of the quality of the graduate-school experience. Dual degrees are significantly more demanding than straight MBA programs. Since part of the appeal of business school is the chance to develop an extensive network of contacts, hours spent in the library cramming for an engineering or law exam come at a cost.
Integration between the curricula of the two disciplines, as well as administrative functions such as admissions, financial aid and career placement, can leave much to be desired. In fact, placement experts say that there is no marked difference between the types of positions or salaries offered to recent dual degree versus pure MBA graduates.
Experience and knowledge gained, rather than a marginal increase in income, is the best reason to pursue a joint degree. Detractors of dual degree programs are looking at too short a time horizon. These degrees pay off in the long run. He points to the popularity of executive education programs: “Who is coming back? Lawyers, doctors, teachers. Because they need a broader skill set.
The best CEOs tend to be well-rounded, fully developed people with solid experience and a breadth of skills. Reminder: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
The author, Muhammad Bilal Shahid is a student of ACCA and MBA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.