MBA Double-Degrees On The Upswing

“It’s really helped me think about solving problems differently,” says second year MMM student Lexie Smith, a former merchant banking analyst with Raymond James Capital and lead financial analyst in global technology for General Electric. “It’s really helped me unlock different perspectives of how to look at a problem from an end-user perspective.

“My passion is really just trying to disrupt and create innovative operating models to provide better values for either my client as a consultant, or the end user for the company I’m working for. This education can be applied across industries and functions and roles.”

Lexie Smith, a joint-degree student at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management

Lexie Smith, a joint-degree student at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

Smith describes the MMM workload as “very intense.” She spends 15 hours per week in class, and about another 45 hours on schoolwork, making for a 60-hour school week before involvement in clubs and school-related organizations is counted. But she says the MMM program’s three Northwestern University partners – Kellogg, the Segal Design Institute, and the McCormick School of Engineering – have worked effectively to blend course content to fit the MMM program’s design and technology focus. “That makes it really easy to manage the work flow,” Smith says. Also, much of the work in the program is team-based, and “doing it alone is always a lot harder than doing it on a team,” Smith says.


After graduation, members of Smith’s MMM cohort will be going into jobs including product management at Amazon, design at Nike, product development at Ford and Visa, operations at Apple, strategy at Walmart and venture capital at J.P. Morgan, she says.

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business offers more than a dozen joint degree options. For Mallory McLaughlin, with a BS in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Illinois, and previous jobs as a neuroscience lab tech and research lab manager, Ross’s joint MBA/Natural Resources and Environment program provided an opportunity to keep one foot in science while she learned about business in anticipation of work in corporate sustainability. “You’re forced to be in two different communities and two different schools and two different schools of thought and you’re forced to operate in both of those at the same time,” McLaughlin says.

“It really forces you to have a wider understanding of the things that you’re learning. Having to wrestle with those two different sides of the same coin on a daily basis creates . . . this really unique system focus. You’re not just seeing one side of any argument. That’s a really powerful trait in leadership.”

Many of her double-degree peers tend to take on a lot of work, but the course load is not overwhelming, McLaughlin says. “The school in general is really supportive,” McLaughlin says. “There are a lot of ways in which courses count for both degree programs. They do a lot to ensure that it’s a manageable three year path.”