Senior Consultant Susan Brooks 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, Susan 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
"Undoubtedly, many such programs offer students incredible intellectual
opportunities. For example,
Stanford Law School recently announced that it now
has 11 dual or joint degree arrangements with other schools and departments
around the wider university. 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, $50K 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
– Contributed by Senior Consultant Susan Brooks. Susan was the Associate Director of Admissions at
Georgetown University Law Center.
Law School Features