The Ins And Outs Of A Dual Degree

by Allen Chiou Dr. David Svec, Joyce Ho, Manuel Lam, and Dr. David Iberri

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Med School Admissions.

Dual degree programs allow you to pursue two degrees simultaneously.

To me, a dual degree program like Stanford’s MD/MBA is tempting. Business skills would come in handy if I were to start a non-profit organization or work in hospital administration. For now, I am mainly focused on pursuing my MD, though whether I decide to enroll in a dual degree program is a decision I’m still weighing.

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Dual degree programs allow you to pursue two degrees simultaneously.

To me, a dual degree program like Stanford’s MD/MBA is tempting. Business skills would come in handy if I were to start a non-profit organization or work in hospital administration. For now, I am mainly focused on pursuing my MD, though whether I decide to enroll in a dual degree program is a decision I’m still weighing.

Dual degree programs are attractive to people because they allow you to acquire a set of skills that complement your medical education. Also, you can usually obtain both degrees at an accelerated pace.

One of my friends is enrolled in business school. She told me about the basic structure of her MD/MBA.

Business school usually takes two years. For my friend’s MD/MBA, she is taking one year off between her 2nd and 3rd years at med school to do the first year of business school. Later, she’ll take the last year of business school courses mixed in with her last year of clinics. Traditionally, MD/MBA students at Stanford take the first year of MBA courses after finishing 3rd year at the medical school, and they finish both degrees in their fifth and final year.

Separately, these two degrees would take six years. Through the dual degree program, my friend can obtain both in five.

Dual degree programs usually cut down on your electives time to facilitate the shortened overall length. But at the end of the program you have a business degree to go along with your MD.

If you’re willing to spend extra time in school and to sacrifice part of your electives freedom, a dual degree program is definitely something to consider.

If your school doesn’t have a degree program for something you’d also like to pursue, you can take a year off from your medical school program to attend a different school for that degree. Many med students at Stanford take a year off between their 2nd and 3rd years to pursue an MPH at Berkeley or elsewhere.

Taking a year off to pursue a degree elsewhere isn’t quite as streamlined as a dual degree program at the same institution, but you can decide what's best for you and your future.
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