What is a Joint Degree?

Many universities that offer law degrees (Juris Doctorate or JD) approve arrangements whereby qualified students may jointly earn a graduate degree from another discipline in a combined three to four years of full-time study. For example, students may earn a JD and a Master of Business Administration (JD/MBA) or Master of Public Administration (JD/MPA).  So what makes a joint degree any different from earning the degrees separately?  Most programs double count a certain number of credits between the programs.  For example, the law school may accept 12 MBA credits toward earning the law degree and the MBA program may reciprocate.  Instead of taking 90 law credits and 60 MBA credits, a student can graduate with 78 law and 48 MBA credits.  This effectively cuts out one full year of study from what would otherwise take 5 years (for most full-time programs).  A student who completes the joint degree isn’t awarded a JD/MBA diploma; rather, the student receives a separate diploma from each program.

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