How A Dual Degree Can Double Your MBA’s Worth
Double the degree, double the experience. Two b-schoolers explain how taking an MBA plus a specialized master’s degree has helped shape their futures
Pursuing an MBA can provide job security, a high salary, and career advancement.
It is the world’s most sought-after business management degree and can open you up to an expansive network of professionals and opportunities.
But what about completing an MBA and a master’s degree? By pursuing a dual degree program, professionals can complete two degrees of their choice, often in less time than it takes to do just one.
At the Business School of Renmin University of China (RMBS) in Beijing, students at the International MBA (IMBA) can choose from a variety of dual and concurrent degree programs at top business schools around the world.
Students spend their first year studying at RMBS, and their second year at a school of their choice to complete the dual degree, exploring specialized areas like accounting, data analytics, and real estate.
Schools students can choose from include ESCP Europe in France, Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, Singapore Management University, Yale School of Management and Wisconsin School of Business at UW Madison in the US among several other choices.
We spoke to two Renmin MBAs, Jin Zhang and Yan Zhao, who decided to continue their MBA journey with a master’s degree in the US.
The Big Apple’s finance industry
It took Jin four years to realize that he made the wrong career choice.
He chose to go into accounting after completing his undergraduate degree, even though he didn’t like the industry. His main motivation for studying accounting was the ease of finding a job, but he quickly started to become miserable.
Jin is an international MBA candidate of 2019. He chose to study at Renmin to change his career path. He had the choice between entering the job market or completing his second year as part of a dual degree.
During the program, Jin took a study tour to UBC Sauder School of Business in Canada and then visited Yale for a global business case competition.
“These experiences completely changed my outlook,” says Jin.
“After coming back from Yale, I reconsidered my strength, weakness and future possibilities, and became determined to apply for the dual degree program.”
Jin settled on the Master of Science in Finance dual degree at Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College in Manhattan, New York and is set to complete the program this year.
It offers exactly the type of content Jin was seeking, from basic corporate finance, econometrics and investment analysis, to credit risk, and the international financial market.
Baruch also holds weekly student events and networking opportunities. Professionals get the chance to go out with senior managers for coffee or receive offers from the Big Four accounting and consulting firms.
“In such an environment, I am building up my financial knowledge. Baruch College is located in the world financial center,” he says.
“I can see someone working 60 hours per week at a hedge fund and enjoying the hell out of it. Hopefully, one day, I can be like them.”
Building confidence abroad
In the first two months of the program, Jin attended job fairs and the career office, but the competition proved fierce.
“I have made a comprehensive analysis of myself and found my weaknesses,” he says.
“It is the first time that I am close to my dream companies, and the most important thing is, I see possibilities for myself.
“Now, I am more confident than before, with a 4.0 GPA and some standard financial certificates. I will go to the job market again with strong confidence.”
Jin wants to stay in the US for a few years before going back to China. He wants to restart his career in private equity or the hedge fund industry and is more certain of his future career path now.
“This is a life turning point for me,” he says. “If it weren’t for the dual degree, I probably would never see the world in a global view.”
“The dual program is a transition of my life”
Several states away in Wisconsin, Yan is in less of a hurry to re-enter the job market, after completing her dual degree in 2018.
Before her MBA at Renmin, she ran her own chain of yoga studios based in Shandong, China. Keen to try something new, she sold up and decided to combine an MBA with the Master in Real Estate offered at Wisconsin School of Business.
During the master’s program, Yan took part in two study tours—one in Chicago, the other in New York.
All of the students visited leading companies in the US real estate industry and spoke to the professionals who worked there, including developers and investors from different segments of the industry.
“The program was very intense,” she says. “We finished all of our courses within one semester.
“However, the program offered a full picture of the whole real estate industry in the US, [which allowed me to] learn the key evaluation technique for the real estate transaction and development.
“The professors and the alumni network are great and they’re also very valuable resources for me.”
Yan plans to stay in the US until July to improve her English, network further, and get a better understanding of the culture.
She then plans to return to China, confident that there’ll be more opportunities available to her than there were before her MBA.
“The dual program is a transition of my life,” she says. “The economy of China has developed so well in these years—there are a lot of opportunities for people who have overseas experience.”