Senior Consultant Amy Johnson notes that joint degree programs are becoming more common at U.S. law schools.

Although combining a J.D. with a graduate degree in another field makes good sense for some applicants, Amy advises most people to think carefully before taking the plunge.

“If you are considering pursuing a joint degree program, you need to be aware of their impact on your wallet and career choices,” says Amy.

“Undoubtedly, many such programs offer students incredible intellectual opportunities. For example, Stanford Law School offers three types of joint degree options (JD/Master’s, JD/MD, and JD/PhD) in 21 different subject areas. That’s great. After all, a school’s motivation is to increase the intellectual breadth of its offerings, providing students with greater course choices. And what could be problematic about having more choices?

“Well, a couple of issues spring to mind:

“One – Most joint or dual degree programs require additional time enrolled as a student. Thus, the cost of your education will increase by one or more years of tuition – and, at, say, $90K per year that is no small amount of money!. You need to carefully consider all of the benefits – intellectual, professional and, yes, financial – of this decision.

“Two – Consider the marketability of your joint degree. It is not the case that future employers – either in the private or public sections – will necessarily see the value in your joint degree. In fact, the opposite is true. You will more likely be asked to justify the need you saw to pursue this ‘extra’ education. Unless you can give a clear and coherent explanation for why you pursued these two degrees, you will seem scattered and unfocused intellectually and professionally. So, before deciding to pursue a joint degree, be sure you understand your motivations clearly – and be sure that you can articulate them not only to yourself but also to the admissions committees.”

– Contributed by Senior Consultant Amy Johnson. Amy was the Director of Admission for Tulane University Law School.

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