University to offer combined JD and MBA degree

Asper and Robson Hall add UM to list of U15 schools with the program

Hytem Elgubtan hopes that his chaotic experience taking his LSAT earlier this month will pay off and result in his acceptance into U of M’s new joint JD/MBA program. 

“It would honestly be a dream come true,” he said. 

Beginning fall 2024, the University of Manitoba will join 10 other U15 schools that offer a juris doctor (JD) and master of business administration (MBA) concurrent program. 

Elgubtan is in his last year of a bachelor of arts in psychology with a minor in business management. He wants to pursue either corporate or international law. U of M offering the new program allows Elgubtan to “stick two plans into one thing that I’ve always wanted to do.” 

“The fact that I’m able to get two degrees in one is an opportunity that really caught my eye as soon as I began my law school application.”

Even though other Canadian law schools offer the joint degree, Elgubtan said that being able to attend the U of M means that he could stay close to family and friends. 

The new program will mean that students will have the opportunity to obtain their law degree and MBA in a total of four years, where previously, the two separate degrees would take three and two years each to complete. 

Richard Jochelson, dean of the Robson Hall faculty of law, said the idea for the joint program had “been bubbling around” for at least 10 years. According to Jochelson, the then-dean of the Asper school of business Michael Benarroch and the then-dean of law wrote a preliminary proposal for the program, but it did not go past that. 

“I am excited by the work we are doing to connect more faculties and programs to each other,” said Benarroch in a statement provided to the Manitoban

Later, Jochelson was able to restart working toward the program in collaboration with Asper. Jochelson said that, as the only law school and “most important” MBA in the province, they had a “responsibility to offer” the program.

“It could be career defining,” he said. A graduate of the program  “could end up being a really important person contributing to the Manitoba economy.”

Getting into the program itself will be rigorous according to Jochelson. Students will first have to take the LSAT, be accepted into law school and be admitted to the business school once the first year of law school is complete. Entrance to the MBA program is reliant on a score of 550 or better on the Graduate Management Admissions Test and work experience, according to acting associate dean of the Asper school of business graduate program Nathan Greidanus.

Although, the outcome is “a real chance to come out with two high profile credentials.” Students who complete the program will obtain both their JD and their MBA. 

Previously, students interested in this sort of program had to go out of the province to access it. Now there is the “opportunity to keep some of those folks in Manitoba, have those opportunities grow locally, and it should serve the Manitoba economy better, and also provide a more affordable alternative,” Jochelson said. 

Jochelson noted that of the applicant pool of law school for the fall 2024 term, about 50 per cent have indicated that they are interested in the JD/MBA program. 

Greidanus said the new program is “something the market would appreciate.” 

“I think it’s a great option for law students to add that business acumen piece to it,” he said.  

Jochelson said that feedback from Winnipeg law firms has been quite positive. It is “exciting that the news is reaching some of the big players on the industry side,” he said.