It is not uncommon for politicians to have a degree from Harvard Law School. For instance, President Obama has one. Some other public servants, like former President George W. Bush, graduated from Harvard Business School and earned an MBA. But it is not often that we see anyone with both degrees. Mitt Romney, the Republican contender for president, does indeed have both, and got both degrees simultaneously by attending a special program at Harvard which combines what should be a five year stretch of studying into only four years.
Harvard’s JD-MBA program began in 1969 and since then they have graduated about 12 people each year, with about 500 total graduates until now. There are a few other similar programs around the country, but so far the list of alumni from Harvard’s dual program reads like a who’s who of immensely successful professionals.
In addition to Romney, who attended Harvard from 1971 until 1975, are such notable graduates as C. James Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company; and Theodore V. Wells Jr., one of the nation’s top trial lawyers; and Bruce Wasserstein, who ran the investment bank Lazard until he died in 2009.
The vast majority of graduates head towards the world of business and finance, rather than law, mostly for the financial rewards and easier working conditions. It is expected that as long as politics remains a relatively modestly paying venture with unreliable job security, most Harvard dual-program graduates will stay away from public service. That is one of the reasons Romney is attracting such attention; he is a truly rare breed.
As one alumnus of the program expressed it, “Who knows? Maybe we’ll be holding our next reunion at the White House.”