By Jong Eun Jung
In the same three-year timeframe it takes to earn a Doctor of Law (JD), students can earn both a JD and a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) through the JD/MSF dual degree program. Adding the MSF is especially appealing to law students interested in corporate or financial law, as it gives them industry-specific knowledge and sets them apart from other JD-only candidates.
To finish the two degrees in only three years, students take two years of law school classes, then complete one semester of MSF classes, and finally conclude their degrees with a semester that mixes law and MSF courses. Prospective students apply for admission to the JD and MSF programs separately, while indicating their interest in the joint-degree program on each application.
To learn more about the advantages of getting a JD/MSF dual degree, we talked with two Vanderbilt alumni who completed the programs. Demitrianna Grekos (JD/MSF ’19) is currently studying for the bar exam, while Tiffany Burba (JD/MSF ’17) is an intellectual property attorney at Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein LLP. Below, the graduates break down the four benefits of earning a JD/MSF dual degree.
Merging Two Fields
Developing strong knowledge of both business and law helps students realize how both fields unite together in corporate law. They gain a deeper understanding of business mergers, enterprise risk, and discounting factors in cases. “I’m comfortable talking about business matters. I’m more comfortable with the lingo… I have a more complete picture of an issue when I’m coming into (a case) as an attorney than I would have been if I didn’t have the Masters in Finance,” Grekos said.
Having a background in finance allows graduates to understand the choices that their clients are making and the reasoning behind those decisions. Because of this, JD/MSF graduates can easily place themselves in their clients’ shoes and understand where they are coming from. “I can speak the language of my clients,” Burba said.
“I definitely feel like in a corporate setting, I can see things from (my clients’) perspective a lot better,” Grekos added.
I wanted to understand… the financial choices that directors and managers were making. And the Masters in Finance was just the perfect answer to that question. -Demitrianna Grekos (JD/MSF’19)
Gaining a New Perspective
Burba says the MSF program prompted her to explore new perspectives. She explained how in law school, she was required to “think like a lawyer” while in business school, she could think like a businessperson. “The JD program is geared towards students thinking analytically about cases… I like to take some time to think about the quantitative side of things,” she said.
Both Burba and Grekos also appreciated how the MSF curriculum gave them a break from studying law during their last year. “(At the business school) there’s less pressure, you’re more open to new ideas… Law is law; nobody can really change it, whereas there’s more problem-solving when it comes to business school classes,” Grekos said.
A degree that showcases expertise in finance can be attractive to potential employers in fields like corporate law, which gives JD-MSF graduates an advantage within the applicant pool. “(Since) I have this Masters, clients will be more likely to have me work (with them). It puts me in a better position, professionally, as well as in confidence,” Grekos said.
Burba says the MSF degree makes students stand out not only in the applicant pool but also among associate peers once they become attorneys. “I can have more sophisticated business discussions… with prospective clients early on,” she said.
To learn more about the JD/MSF Dual Degree Program at Vanderbilt Business, visit the program page.