The Best of Both Worlds

An Interview with Terilyn Dumas (JD/MBA Student)

Terilyn Dumas is a third-year student in the JD/MBA program. She entered Harvard Law School in the fall of 2004 after graduating from Howard University in Washington, DC, where she majored in International Business and Finance. A native of Macon, Georgia, Terilyn is one of very few students who has entered the JD/MBA program without full-time post graduate career experience. Here, Terilyn discusses the dual degree program.

What motivated you to apply to the MBA program as a first year student at the Harvard Law School?
While in undergrad, I decided that I wanted to pursue a JD/MBA. However, I knew that this would be a difficult challenge for someone coming directly from undergrad. After talking to professors and many graduate students, I learned that I would have a better chance of gaining admission to a business school if I was already enrolled in law school. I applied to law school with the intent to enroll in business school, thereby limiting my choices to universities with both renowned JD and MBA programs.

Was there a void in the Law School curriculum that you felt the MBA program could fill?
After completing my first semester of law school, I definitely missed the real-world applicability of the information that is taught in business classes. Harvard Law School is an excellent place to learn how to apply legal theory and philosophy to complex problems, but most lawyers never face any of these issues outside the confines of law school. Harvard Business School provides the balance that I seek between theory and practicality.

What are your career aspirations?
To be honest, I’m still deciding. At this point, I plan to begin as a corporate attorney and would like to focus on mergers and acquisitions or securities regulation. I hope to use that legal expertise to ultimately pursue a career in M&A from the banking perspective. Ask me tomorrow and I might give you another answer. That’s the great thing about being a JD/MBA at Harvard-options.

What are the major benefits of being a dual degree student?
This may sound corny, but I’ll say it any way-the people. I have the opportunity to view the world from two perspectives, and I’ve been surprised at how different lawyers and business professional think. Also, the class offerings that are available in both schools allow me to create a unique curriculum around my area of interest.

What are the major drawbacks of being a dual degree student?
I can think of only one drawback-it’s a four-year program so I will not graduate with any of my friends from either entering class. Also, explaining to employers that you actually have two more years of school and not the usual one year can be difficult when searching for summer internship opportunities. And my favorite-“So, exactly how is a law (business) degree relevant to.?

Has the administration at HBS managed the dual degree program well?
I think so. I’ve had a lot of questions concerning registration and degree requirements, but all of them have been answered in a timely fashion.

Do you have any advice for current RC students enrolled in dual degree programs?
Befriend a third or fourth year student. They are excellent resources for navigating this program.

Information on Dual Degree Programs from the HBS website
Dual Degree Programs
Harvard Business School partners with other Harvard graduate schools to offer joint or concurrent programs leading to dual degrees. These programs allow students to complete requirements for both degrees in less time than if pursued separately.

HBS currently participates in dual degree programs with Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Medical School.

In order to enroll in joint or concurrent programs, prospective students must apply separately and be accepted to each school. Additional requirements may apply; please review the detailed application requirements for each program.

September 11, 2006
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