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The USC JD MBA Program: What You Need To Know

November 30, 2021
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Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. What is a JD/MBA Degree?Part 3. Overview of the USC JD/MBA ProgramPart 4. USC JD/MBA CurriculumPart 5. Admission Requirements and How to ApplyPart 6. Tips to Get into the USC JD/MBA ProgramPart 7. JD/MBA Career Outlook and SalaryPart 8. FAQs

The degree pathway of JD/MBA is an excellent choice for anyone looking to go to law school and wants something more from their education, particularly in a business direction. The University of Southern California in Los Angeles offers its unique JD-MBA program for those interested. Students have access to both the highly ranked Gould School of Law and the Marshall School of Business for their education. The USC JD/MBA emphasizes expertise in property law and the business surrounding that. This type of knowledge opens up many potential career paths as a lawyer or in business dealings. 

The university classifies the USC JD/MBA program as a dual degree program. These programs usually have a designed pathway of required classes that funnel students through the program in a manageable fashion. Their curriculum reflects this by setting aside specific years to focus on one degree before moving on to the other. To join the USC JD/MBA, the student will have to apply and earn acceptance into both programs to access the complete JD/MBA program. The doors opened by this type of graduate-level program are a great way to start a highly successful career.

What is a JD/MBA Degree?

A JD/MBA is a dual degree available at a graduate-level designed to earn two degrees faster than separately. The JD/MBA is a combination program of the Juris Doctor law degree and the Master of Business. Given the nature of this degree, a JD/MBA is meant for those who are planning to get both degrees and can manage the rigor and load of the curriculum. Determining whether a JD/MBA dual degree is worth the increased workload and strain should be a priority before applying. The JD/MBA is available to students in both standard four-year and accelerated three-year degree paths. USC offers its four-year JD/MBA program that tailors itself to the needs of students. 

Many of the best universities in America offer top-ranked JD/MBA programs, including USC. The program here puts a particular emphasis on real estate and business-related themes. Some potential careers in that respect that are open to holders of a JD/MBA are real estate and corporate positions, as well as escrow and managing attorney positions. The potential career paths may lead to great success and highlight the degree path, despite the challenge it offers. Separately both degrees constitute a significant commitment, so it is important to keep that in mind during the application process.

Overview of the USC JD/MBA Program

The USC JD/MBA program starts with applications to both the schools of Law and Business. The application notably requires the applicant to take both the LSAT and GMAT. Once completed and accepted to both, the student then and only then will be ready for the JD/MBA. Notably, the university allows students to apply to whatever program they did not get into during their first semester. Typically the university starts the students in the program off with a year of law classes followed by a year focused on the MBA side of the degree. For the third and fourth years, the student must complete any remaining credits needed from both degree programs to graduate.

USC JD/MBA Curriculum

For their first year, JD/MBA students focus entirely on the early required law classes. USC lists these subjects as “Constitutional Law Structure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legal Ethics, Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy, Procedure, Property, Torts,” all to be done in the first year. From here, the JD/MBA students branch out to exclusively focus on the MBA side of the degree for the second year. The significant part about this is that the law knowledge will help with understanding the part of the MBA curriculum that deals with real estate and the legal process involved.  

The MBA at USC takes into account individual terms for its overall curriculum. The first two terms include microeconomics, management, professionalism, strategy, accounting, statistics, finance, and problem-solving. Classes like this prepare students for the business world. Note that all referenced courses may not be all the students scheduled to take over one year. The JD/MBA pathway may allow students to have more freedom to take classes typically reserved for later years to save time. 

After the first two years, the JD/MBA student must finish whatever remaining courses for both degrees they have. Notably, USC does not award one degree without the other, so the students must complete all of their requirements to graduate. Students should work with their guidance counselors heavily to build their schedules and take their appropriate courses. USC Gould School of Law enables students to pick areas of study for their last two years, so JD/MBA students should be doubly sure to work with their schedules. Given the academic rigor of the JD/MBA, this can be a lifesaver ultimately. 

USC also assigns a master’s committee to guide the student towards graduation and ultimately decide if the student has passed. They may advise students on classes and personal decisions on the path. The committee will usually take people from the student’s major(s). In the case of the JD/MBA, the committee will contain MBA and Law advisors from USC’s body of professors.

Admission Requirements and How to Apply

To apply for USC, students use the online application portal. Once a student has submitted an application the admissions office will evaluate their credentials. If the student is deemed a good fit, admissions will issue a letter of acceptance. 

The requirements include a bachelor's degree or equivalent accepted by admissions, a GPA and academic ability evaluation, and other qualifications that may be individuals, such as letters of recommendation and a resume. Both the Juris Doctor and the MBA programs at USC require at least five years of work experience relevant to the applicant's desired degrees before being accepted. If the student is international, they will likely need to take an English proficiency test and submit the results. 

The student must also submit a separate application(s) to their desired home program(s). The JD/MBA at USC program requirements include taking both the GRE and LSAT for the Gould School of Law. It is important to note that any test taken for Gould will only be accepted for up to five years after the results are received. USC Gould also requires a CAS report, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, a resume, and bar admission qualifications. 

The Marshall School of Business takes the students’ GRE score on an optional basis, and the JD/MBA student may as well submit it again. USC Marshall's requirements include a letter of recommendation, two essays, a resume, and previous academic papers. All applications can be submitted online and may require a few for submission. Once done, the student must wait to receive an acceptance letter from all three applications.

Tips for Getting into the USC JD/MBA Program

Applying for graduate school can quickly become a daunting task for potential applicants. Graduate school is an important step that can be critical to a career path and lifelong goals. To quell some potential worries, here are a few tips that may be helpful,

Prepare Early

Deadlines for USC applications occur on January 15th for fall terms, September 15th for spring, and February 1st for summer. Make sure to have all required testing done well in advance, but before the five year expiration rate. Keep in mind that the application will take some time to do, and that having all of the required papers and scores beforehand will save an enormous amount of time.
Write Thoughtful Essays

USC’s mission statement says "the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit." To that end, USC will prioritize applicants that would fit into this mold and bring something of that kind to those around them. It is essential to consider this while building an application or writing an essay or personal statement. Consider the USC MBA entry essay topics with this idea in mind. An essay that follows USC’s ideals is much more likely to stand out from the crowd. However, the mission statement should be present in the essay while staying on topic. 

Strong Letters of Recommendation

One significant way to stand out, especially for the MBA side of the degree, is through the required letters of recommendation. Most MBA programs value professional experience over academics. USC wants a good letter of recommendation, so having a boss or working mentor write this should be able to reflect on the work done by the applicant.  

JD/MBA Career Outlook and Salary

The JD/MBA degree opens the door to quite a few well-paying and promising career opportunities. Some of the more common jobs graduates take on include attorney, entrepreneur, manager, financial consultant, and politician. These positions take on one of the perks of the JD/MBA, as they all have high-end salaries and can lead to significant life-long careers. 

The MBA part of the degree most prepares the student for a career in business, particularly in money management, entrepreneurship, and the business management involved. The law half of the degree becomes more important as the profession goes on and will help out in more uncommon situations. The average salary for a financial consultant is about $89,000, with average annual job growth. The entrepreneur takes on a great deal of risk with incredible rewards. A lot depends on the individual and their sense of reading the economic situation and their business decisions. 

The law half of the JD/MBA unlocks a whole host of jobs in the justice system and maybe the spark that ignites a future political career. Most lawyers start their career with a salary averaging $60,000. Coupled with an average annual growth rate of about 9%, an attorney is both an excellent and rewarding option. Attorneys can specialize and take on so many different roles in their career, and the MBA can be beneficial at any point. 


Does USC offer any other Dual Degrees?

The University of Southern California has many more Dual Degree options. Notably, USC offers a couple more dual degrees that pair with their MBA program outside of the JD/MBA. The Master of Real Estate Development degree path works with the MBA for a four-year dual degree for those interested in a future career in real estate. The MBA program at USC also offers a Master of Planning MBA dual degree. This focus is similar, emphasizing surveying for city development and infrastructure planning.  

To start a dual degree at USC requires all applicants to apply to both programs they are interested in for their dual degree. Students may also apply in the fall to the other school for a dual degree if the student enrolled in one school without being accepted to the other. Students are required to "notify their Student Services Advisor that they wish to pursue the dual degree" to start. Students can also choose to follow only one degree path if the course load proves too much. 

Does USC offer a three-year JD/MBA pathway?

No, there is not an accelerated three-year JD/MBA degree path. Other universities do offer three-year programs, but USC only offers one four-year program. However, this does not mean that it is impossible to graduate in three years. Once enrolled, students could work with their course councilors to build a faster degree path by taking on summer classes and more course load in a semester. Keep in mind that this may not be an easy feat that could require being a full-time student.

How likely am I to get into USC?

The acceptance rate for the USC Marshall School of Business is at 24%. The acceptance rate for the USC Gould School of Law is around 19%. USC is growing as a school, but the acceptance rate for both graduate programs is relatively low, which makes it harder to get accepted. There are several ways to stand out. The average GPA for Gould School of Law falls around 3.78, while the Marshall School of Business falls around 3.55. Having a GPA higher than that is a good step in the right direction. A higher score on college entrance exams, like the LSAT and GMAT for law school, also adds to an application. USC also looks for any work experience, so having a robust resume only adds to an application. The average MBA student at USC has about five years of real-world work experience.  

What does USC offer over other schools?

The University of Southern California is known for its Marshall school of Business and the MBA program that comes with it. It is ranked number sixteen in the nation. When it comes to colleges, USC carves out a unique niche as an excellent option for an MBA program on the east coast that draws a great deal from both in-state and out-of-state applicants. 

USC is less known for the Gould school of law, being ranked slightly lower at nineteen. However, it is still an excellent school for law and pairs nicely for the JD/MBA degree. The resource of having two well-known and highly acclaimed programs on campus for this dual degree is a fantastic feature for USC. On top of this, the bar exam pass rate is 87%, which is about thirty percent higher than the state average. 

Colleges, despite the ranking system, stand out based on location, pricing, and availability. It is usually in the best interest of an applicant to apply to a range of schools. The difference between the top twenty ranked schools is marginal and are all of such high quality that ultimately, it is more important for the student to see what schools are willing to accept them. USC is an excellent choice for any applicant looking for an MBA living in California or the west coast. If distance and price do not matter, then all the better. 

How much does the JD/MBA at USC cost?

Any JD/MBA is going to be expensive. Especially considering that most students enrolled are full-time if they're going to graduate school. Most applicants work for a while before applying to graduate school. It is vital to build up savings, even if student debt is already a factor. A JD/MBA will make a significant amount of students that may take a considerable amount of time to pay after graduation. 

With that in mind, USC Gould places the cost of attendance at around $97,000 for a full year of law school. The tuition alone covers most of that, but the addition of the MBA does not require paying tuition again. It will, however, cost all the books and extra fees for those courses. Overall, the JD/MBA price at USC should come out to over $100,000 for an entire school year. Multiply that by the total number of years it takes to complete the degree and that should amount to the total cost of the degree.

Will a JD/MBA save me money?

Not only will the JD/MBA save students money, but it will also save them a lot of time. The cost of an MBA and JD separately would be more because of tuition and the cost of living. An MBA typically takes two years, while a JD takes three. While taking a year less, the JD/MBA takes a year less and will ultimately cost less tuition. While USC only offers a four-year program, other schools provide accelerated three-year programs. By taking a JD/MBA at USC, students will save up to $60,000 worth of tuition or more. The only downside to the JD/MBA time-wise is the increased difficulty of studying by taking on two degrees at once and the potential need to be a full-time student. USC does offer a career center, and graduate students may be able to teach as part of their major. 


The JD/MBA at USC takes one of the best options for going to law school and marries it with a great school on the west coast of the United States. The four-year time span rather than the five or even more that it would take to earn both degrees could save as much as $100,000 in student debt or more. Even if there are other schools to apply to for the JD/MBA, USC could come up as an option if needed. It is important to have a back up plan if an application is rejected.

From here, the applicant must start by getting ready to apply online. Make sure to have all the required paperwork and necessities, especially if applying to both schools for the JD/MBA. Students that have a background in business or law related courses are going to stand out more on the Marshall and Gould applications. Make sure to take the required test before as well, as they take time to hear back for the results. USC is looking for those ready to be there.

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