Yet, as the job market becomes more competitive, how can you ensure that you continue to stand out from the competition?
A dual MBA / MS degree could be the answer. It enables professionals to specialize in a specific industry with a business master’s while still getting the broad skills and knowledge provided by an MBA.
You can also complete the combined degrees for a fraction of the cost of two separate degrees in under two years.
BusinessBecause spoke to Jessica Thompson and Gautam Sharma, two dual MBA / MS alumni from the University of Texas (UT) at Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management, about the value of a double degree.
Here are five things you’ll get from a dual MBA / MS program:
1. Doing a dual MBA/MS degree enables you to specialize early on in your career
Studying an MBA provides you with the foundations to become a successful and experienced leader through the learning of a broad array of subjects linked to business management. Core modules typically cover accounting, finance, economics, organizational behavior, and strategy.
Students can also specialize and gain exposure to specific areas of business through electives such as Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Supply Chain Management, or Energy Management.
Students who decide to accompany their MBA with a specific master’s will, however, be able to specialize in a particular field or industry.
Becoming an expert in a certain field could enable you to make more calculated and thoughtful decisions.
“Having a specialty and having that depth gives you that extra bit of edge that you’re a subject matter expert instead of a jack of all trades,” notes Jessica (pictured), who graduated from UT Dallas with a dual MBA/MS in Information Technology and Management.
Gautam, a fellow alum from UT Dallas who graduated with a dual MBA/MS in Business Analytics, explains how the dual degree made him a “manager, as well as a technical data manager.”
He adds that specializing equipped him with the knowledge and understanding of how a digital business works top to bottom, knowledge he now uses in his role as data innovation manager for PMG Digital Agency, a marketing firm.
2. A STEM-designated dual MBA/MS can provide additional time for international students to work in the US
If you wish to study in the US as an international student you may want to consider doing a STEM-designated dual MBA/MS, which could allow you to extend your stay in the country after graduation and benefit from additional job opportunities.
Every international student graduating from a US business school has the right to stay in the country for one year under Optional Practical Training (OPT). This can be in any industry area related to their field of study.
However, graduates from STEM-designated degrees can apply for an additional 24 months of OPT, meaning there’s the potential to stay in the US and work for up to three years after graduating.
This is favorable for international students hoping to find employment in the US post-graduation.
“It puts you in a safer spot,” Gautam (pictured) says, “companies have greater confidence in hiring someone who has a longer OPT.”
Students at UT Dallas can choose to accompany their MBA with a stem-designated master's:
- MS Business Analytics
- MS Finance
- MS Information Technology and Management
- MS Marketing
- MS Supply Chain Management
3. An MBA/MS dual degree could make you more desirable to employers
For an employer, a candidate who has leadership skills honed during an MBA, alongside in-depth knowledge from a master’s program, could stand out in the jobs market.
"It makes you more marketable", Jessica affirms before adding, “a lot of people have MBAs these days since you can get them from a lot of different institutions. But adding that extra degree just shows that you took that extra step."
According to the World Economic Forum, there is a growing demand for data analysts and scientists, robotic engineers, digital transformation specialists, and information security analysts. this reflects the acceleration of automation and the potential cybersecurity risks from increased digitalization. A STEM-designated degree could provide you with the skillset to stand out to employers within these fields.
Since graduating, Gautam has directly applied the skills he's learnt during his dual MBA/MS degree to his current role at PMG.
At UT Dallas, Gautam learned to work with large datasets, "my master's was in business analytics and every subject that I took made me work with data, being predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics, statistics, marketing, or analytics."
The STEM master's helped Gautam become successful at PMG, a company that is "heavily, heavily, heavily data-driven, and heavily technology-driven and we live, breathe, eat and drink data here in my company."
4. Doing a dual MBA/MS program will provide you with leadership skills
A successful leader needs to have a strong rapport with, and understanding of, the organization and the people he or she is leading.
Without specializing in the field you wish to enter, understanding the organization and industry as a whole could prove difficult and may lead to a reduced chance of landing a senior leadership role in the field.
By undertaking a dual degree, Gautam explains that “you’ll become a manager that knows and understands what everybody else is doing in the company, since you’ll have the technical knowledge alongside your leadership skills.”
Gautam adds, "it gave me the T kind of knowledge, the MBA gives you breadth and the master's gives you depth. It makes you feel more professionally complete."
5. MBA/MS dual degree programs can double your access to networking
Two programs mean two departments and thus, double the opportunities to network.
Doing a double degree gives you access to both the MBA and the master’s networking circles, allowing you to make more broad, senior management connections, as well as connections within your specialized focus area.
“We got the emails, events, and invitations from both the ITM department and the MBA one, it was twice the network,” says Jessica.
She obtained her current role, as part of the Women’s Cyber Rotational Program at Bank of America, after the ITM department sponsored her to attend the Grace Hopper Conference—an event that connects thousands of women in tech globally.
Alongside doubling your network, a dual MBA degree can provide you with multiple benefits a traditional, standalone MBA might not. And by complementing a generalist skillset with specialized knowledge, you could set yourself up to stand out from the crowd when you graduate.