Impact of a Dual PharmD/MBA Degree on Graduates' Academic Performance, Career Opportunities, and Earning Potential

Article excerpt

Objective. To evaluate the academic experience and satisfaction of students who completed a dual PharmD/MBA degree program and the program's long-term impact on the students' career choice and earning potential.

Methods. GPAs, job placement, and starting job salaries were compared between graduates who completed the dual PharmD/MBA program and those who completed only the PharmD program. A satisfaction survey instrument was administered to 17 students who completed the dual PharmD/MBA degree program in May 2007. Data from a standardized job placement and starting salary survey instrument completed by all PharmD graduates were also obtained, as well as all students' final grade point averages (GPAs). GPAs, job placement, and starting job salaries were compared between graduates who had completed the dual PharmD/MBA program and those who had completed only the PharmD program.

Results. The graduating GPAs of dual-degree students were higher than those of both pharmacy (3.52 vs 3.41, p > 0.10) and business (3.82 vs. 3.68, p = 0.018) students not enrolled in the dual-degree program. Dual-degree students were slightly less likely to enter a residency (17% vs. 27%, p = 0.44) than other pharmacy graduates. Among those who elected not to pursue a residency, both mean starting salaries ($111,090 vs. $101,965) and mean total first-year compensation ($127,290 vs. $110,388) were significantly higher for dual-degree graduates compared to the PharmD graduates.

Conclusions. Students enrolled in the dual-degree program did slightly better academically than students who completed only the MBA or PharmD programs and indicated a high level of satisfaction with the program. Dual-degree graduates reported increased career opportunities and were slated to earn significantly more during their first year in the workforce. These results affirm continuation of our program and make the case for support of similar programs across the nation.

Keywords: dual degree, master of business administration (MBA) degree, curriculum, grade point average, salary, career opportunities

INTRODUCTION

Over the last 2 decades, dual doctor of pharmacy (PharmD)/master of business administration (MBA) degree programs have been developed at a number of colleges of pharmacy throughout the United States. These programs have 2 primary objectives: (1) to instill in students the business background and skills necessary to enter management positions within pharmacy and (2) to allow students to earn an MBA degree in less time and at a lower expense than if they were to pursue the 2 degrees independently. (1) The dual degree is considered highly desirable for persons seeking careers in institutional practice settings, the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacy benefit management organizations, and academia. In fact, many professional pharmacy associations, including the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), have advocated the creation of such programs for the purpose of filling leadership positions in pharmacy.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) states that 30 (34%) US colleges of pharmacy currently offer a PharmD/MBA degree. (2) Because the majority of these programs are relatively new and generally include only a small number of students, there is very little information in the literature on actual student experiences or job placement and salaries after graduation. There is an implicit assumption that an MBA must certainly be an asset to a pharmacist's career in a variety of practice settings, but again, information on both student satisfaction and the effect of completing such a program is limited.

As outlined in our companion Journal publication, the dual PharmD/MBA degree program between the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP)-Charleston and The Citadel's School of Business Administration is one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation. 3 The faculty and administration at the SCCP determined a need to offer such a program to students in order to help meet the need for pharmacists who understand general business principles as well as direct patient care. …