The latest MBA and Executive MBA rankings from the Financial Times and The Economist establish one definitive trend in the world of business education – the popularity and success of joint MBA degrees. But what exactly is a joint programme, how does it differ from a dual or double degree and is this the right option for you at all?
In a joint degree programme, participants have the opportunity to study at two different universities, sometimes even in different countries and continents, but in the end they receive one diploma. The programme format, structure, and curriculum are also designed collaboratively and they remain the same when programme participants transition to their second study location.
Six of the top 20 Executive MBA programmes ranked in the 2018 Financial Times ranking are joint degrees offered by at least two global business and management institutions. Some of them are partnerships between three institutions, such as TRIUM Global Executive MBA designed by HEC Paris (France), London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and New York University Stern School of Business (US). The top 20 EMBA programmes from the latest Executive MBA Ranking published by The Economist also feature six joint degrees by European, American, and Asian universities.
How does a joint degree differ from a dual degree?
Unlike joint degrees, a dual or double degree programme requires students to complete two entirely separate programmes and as a result, they also receive two diplomas. Dual degrees are especially appropriate for people who are interested in two distinct yet connected fields of study. For instance, they can be as distinct as the Wharton/Engineering Dual Degree Programme which teaches business leadership in combination with technical skills. Others can be focused entirely on business and management-related topics and still award two diplomas at the end of the study. As suggested by IE Business School (Spain), dual degrees help participants “develop a multidisciplinary profile, enabling them to play important roles in solving complex global issues where boundaries between disciplines continue to disappear.”
Is a joint degree the right option for you?
Opting for a joint MBA or Executive MBA programme can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but the decision should still follow careful consideration. On the one hand, joint MBA degrees grant professionals access to a rich and diverse network which few other degrees can offer. Since programme participants essentially become alumni of two entirely different institutions, they also get to interact with the students and faculty present in both locations. They are usually global in nature and feature professionals from very distinct backgrounds, which is helpful throughout your studies and in the long run when it comes to your career advancement.
On top of gaining an invaluable network of international peers, a joint degree should do wonders for your professional development. According to ThoughtCo, a reference site focused on expert-created education content, joint and dual degrees “fast-track your career and make you eligible for promotions that might take longer to get or not be available without an MBA.” Having the diploma on your CV/resume shows employers that you are not only knowledgeable in business and management but that you are also actively looking for opportunities to grow and excel. Furthermore, “by taking on the challenge of a joint degree, students gain all the benefits of close collaboration across campuses and across countries,” says Jessica Kling, Programme Coordinator at American University (US), for University World News.
How difficult is it to study in a joint programme?
At the same time, opting for a joint degree programme requires commitment, hard work, and an ability to adapt quickly. Participants should be ready to roll up their sleeves as the programme curriculum can be intense, especially considering the relocation to a different school, which is usually in a different country. Attending classes at two different institutions means participants will be faced with a significant change not only in terms of the location, but also in the teaching style and culture of the place. Nevertheless, the challenging nature of this experience is also what makes it so unique and educational. As pointed out on Studyportals, “dealing with two different educational systems may be hard to adapt to, but this will help you learn how to overcome difficulties and become accustomed to an entirely new environment.”
Finally, make sure the joint degree is something you will really benefit from and consider if you will get a worthy return on your investment. The joint degree is not a requirement in itself for most job positions so you need to have a clear purpose for wanting to attain this particular diploma over another one. Knowing how to present and justify your decision for yourself and for potential employers or partners is essential in gaining the most of the opportunity.