Dual Specialization vs. Dual Degree MBA Programs

Education professionals say it’s important to engage in lifelong learning so that our brains continue to develop and our knowledge continues to deepen. Mental health professionals concur that new experiences and knowledge can create novel pathways in the brain, opening up the capacity to be neurologically resilient throughout life. While we still don’t know everything about the mysteries of the brain, research into the benefits of lifelong learning shows it is to our benefit to continuously search for ways to boost our existing skills and learn new ones—whether we’re still in school or decades from our last diploma.

If a prospective student is interested in continuing their lifelong learning through an MBA, they can do so efficiently by choosing a dual specialization or a dual-degree program. Dual specialization programs offer an MBA with specialized coursework in two main areas of interest. For example, if someone is equally interested in marketing and accounting, there are some MBA programs with a dual-track specializations, allowing the student to learn concurrently about both.

Other schools offer the option of dual degree programs—programs where students can earn two graduate-level degrees at once. By identifying shared core courses or electives that can benefit careers in both fields, students can earn both advanced degrees in a more efficient timeline than enrolling in the programs separately. In addition to saving time and money by not having to enroll in two separate programs, dual degree programs can help applicants to stand out from those who only have a bachelor’s or one advanced degree.

For instance, someone who earns a combined MBA/JD degree is familiar with the intersection of legal practices and business strategies. In another example, having an MBA with a master’s in healthcare management indicates that a person has a deep fiscal acumen as well as an understanding of the complex policies in the healthcare industry. Having two advanced degrees can prepare a person for a high leadership role in a given industry.

In addition to the advantage of expanded knowledge and skills, earning one or more degrees beyond a bachelor’s can lead to financial advantages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports significant wage differences for graduate-level degree holders, especially in business-focused occupations. For example, financial planners with bachelor’s degrees have a median wage of $78,000, while those with MBAs have a median wage of $110,000. Transportation managers earn $62,000 with a bachelor’s, but experience a bump in earning to $90,000 with a master’s. So while some prefer working their way up the corporate ladder from the bottom rung, dual specializations or dual degree programs can help someone start their career a couple of rungs higher than candidates coming out of school with a bachelor’s or with single degrees.

Continue reading for a guide to programs offering MBAs with dual specializations and programs offering MBA dual degree options.

Side-by-Side Comparison: Dual Specializations vs. Dual Degree MBAs

1Rutgers University: Dual Specialization

Students in the part-time or full-time MBA program begin by taking an overview of current business principles in core classes, followed by foundational and integrative courses. Part-time students can choose primary and secondary concentrations, allowing them to dive deeper into specific industries. A total of 11 concentrations are available, and students can create their own customized 15-credit concentrations. The full-time option offers the same concentrations as the part-time program except for accounting, which is a separate 66-credit full-time MBA option.

Please note that in addition to MBA programs, Rutgers offers 11 dual and accelerated degree options at its Newark and New Brunswick campuses. Through programming with shared credits across disciplines, students can efficiently complete two graduate degree programs or a combined undergraduate/graduate program. For instance, the JD/MBA program has 12 shared credits, allowing students to earn both degrees in four years—one year less than if they both were taken consecutively. Separate admission is required for both programs. Other options include an MBA/MD, an MBA/master’s of city and regional planning, and an MBA/master’s of public policy. Some of Rutgers full-time dual degree courses require enrolling in the non-MBA courses first, followed by switching into the business school, while others require students to take courses in both schools throughout the program. Tuition must be paid at both colleges.

Location: Various locations, New Jersey Admission requirements: GMAT, transcripts, personal statement/essay
Academic requirements: Courses in statistics, calculus, and online modules Online options: MBA through Rutgers Online

Here’s a comparison of two specialized MBAs with the normal full-time option. Please note that for a dual specialization, Rutgers students must complete 15 credits in each concentration, except for finance, pharmaceutical management, and accounting which require 18 credits each.

Through the multidisciplinary dual degree program offered jointly by the USF School of Law and the Massung School of Management, students gain an entrepreneurial approach to modern law. Based out of San Francisco, California, the program teaches skills that can translate into everything from managing a law firm to being a corporate attorney to advising companies on legal matters. The curriculum accepts up to 12 shared/crossover credits in the 84-credit JD program and the 56-credit MBA program, for a total of 24. The program begins with two years at the law school followed by at least one year at the business school. Though the law program offers externships or hybrid programs with area professionals, online programs aren’t available.

Though nursing centers on patient care, the profession can benefit from nurses who also have organizational and business expertise. Nurses with advanced academic credentials may find useful management positions within the healthcare industry, or help to train future nurses through teaching. West Virginia University (WVU), located in Morgantown, West Virginia, provides a blend of dual and accelerated classes designed to get students and working professionals out of the classroom and into the workforce as efficiently as possible. Most notably, WVU offers a program where students only need to complete 14 extra credit-hours to move from a master’s of nursing to a doctor’s of nursing.

Those interested in blending business training with nursing can pursue a dual MBA with an MSN. With the exception of four on-campus residencies, the 67-unit program is offered completely online. Courses for both degrees are taken concurrently, and admission is required into both programs.

Along with the online and on-campus MSN/MBA, WVU also offers other dual degree, on-campus MBA programs including options in industrial relations, sports management, finance, public health, and a doctor of dental surgery, among others. Online/hybrid dual programs from WVU include its JD/MBA, Military/MBA, and a Doctor of Pharmacy. The online MBA program consists of 48 credits taken over two years, with four on-campus residencies lasting a few days. The on-campus program includes an international business trip.

Other Examples of Dual Degree and Dual Specialization MBAs

1University of Delaware: Dual Degree and Dual Specializations

The Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics MBA program focuses on imparting the financial skills that are in-demand among employers, maintaining flexibility for busy students, and providing an array of options through personalization. The University of Delaware offers five online MBA concentrations/specializations and 14 dual-degree MBA programs. Please note that an MBA with a single concentration comprises 44 credits; a dual concentration, 47 credits; and a triple concentration, 53 credits.

MBA specializations:

  • Business analytics
  • Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Strategic leadership
  • International business

Dual degree programs:

  • MBA + M.S. in Accounting
  • MBA + Master of Chemical Engineering
  • MBA + M.A. in Economics
  • MBA + M.S. in Finance
  • MBA + M.S. in Hospitality Business Management
  • MBA + M.S. in Information Systems and Technology Management
  • MBA + M.S. in International Business
  • MBA + M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • MBA + Master of Materials Science and Engineering
  • MBA + M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
  • MBA + Master of Applied Sciences in Civil Engineering
  • MBA + Master of Engineering: Mechanical
  • MBA + M.D.Sidney Kimmel Medical College
  • MBA + Ph.D. in Biological Sciences
2Auburn University: Dual Degrees

The Raymond J. Harbert College of Business in Auburn, Alabama, provides a variety of graduate-level programs for students seeking advanced business courses. These are available in traditional classroom options, online, or a combination of both. Online students are required to visit campus on one occasion for a capstone course.

Dual degree programs:

  • MBA + M.S. in Information Systems
  • MBA + M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • MBA + M.S. in Finance
Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani is an expert in online MBA programs, having covered MBA programs in computer science, economics, healthcare management, and fraud and forensics, among others, since 2018. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).

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