Accelerated JD-MBA Degree Program Turns Five

The three-year JD-MBA degree, a joint program of the Law School and the Yale School of Management, graduated its fifth class in May 2014. Twenty-one students have now received the accelerated degree and are working in settings as diverse as the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Legislative Counsel, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, Goldman Sachs wealth management, and Crescent City Schools (a New Orleans charter school organization); along with law firms such as Covington & Burling, Davis Polk, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz.

The unique program offers the two degrees in three academic years (six semesters), without the need for summer classes. Students master the analytical and quantitative skills necessary to solve complex legal and business challenges, along with “softer” but equally essential skills involving negotiation and teamwork, which are invaluable for successful careers in business law-related practice and business, as well as in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. Students can apply to enter the program simultaneously or during their first year at the Law School. The program is capped at 15 students per year, and, this coming year, for the first time in the program’s history, it will be hitting the cap and therefore limiting enrollment.

“I believe that the 3-year JD-MBA program is the most important innovation in legal education to have been introduced over the past several decades, as management schools provide core analytical skills that are increasingly relevant for all walks of life, and even the largest law schools cannot adequately staff the courses necessary for imparting that knowledge effectively,” said Roberta Romano, Sterling Professor of Law and director of the Law School’s Center for the Study of Corporate Law. “It is heartening to observe that students apparently concur in that assessment. We expected enrollment in the program to increase gradually, as students saw the success of its graduates. We are truly delighted in the rapid increase in enrollment, along with the enthusiasm expressed by students regarding their experience.”

Students in the program are fully immersed in the required curriculum and community life at each school and graduate with their entering class at both the Law School and SOM. They spend year one at YLS, year two at SOM and YLS, and year three at YLS. During the two summers, students can gain valuable experience in law- or business-related positions.

“Having an MBA opened the door to a variety of careers for me outside the law,” said Jacqueline Carter ’12 YLS/SOM, currently an associate at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “At the same time, I found that law firms highly valued the MBA training (since so much legal work involves corporate regulation and finance-related issues). In my graduating class alone, JD/MBAs were able to obtain a wide variety of post-graduation jobs--in banking, corporate law, nonprofit education, and litigation—as employers in a range of sectors valued the dualistic skills that come with the joint degree.”

Best of all, said Carter, was that the three-year program allowed her to obtain the MBA skill set and yet still graduate with her entering law school class. “I was also able to integrate my studies at the two schools by participating in law school extracurriculars (like YLJ, clinic, and legal research), while studying at the School of Management.”

“Because of the small size of the accelerated JD/MBA program, the students in it form close friendships,” added Carter. “Even since graduation, we continue to organize group dinners and to offer each other advice on job opportunities and career paths.”

Yale Law School and the School of Management also continue to offer a traditional four-year joint degree program as an option. This program was retained for YLS students who realize they are interested in obtaining an MBA after completing their 1L year, when it would be too late to apply to the three-year program, as well as for students who wish to take additional courses in both schools, which the extra year affords.

Read more information on joint degrees.