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Joint degree programs let you pursue two degrees at once, but how is this different from traditional admissions processes? See more college pictures.

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Joint degree programs are designed to give students the opportunity to complete two degrees simultaneously, in less time than it would generally take you to complete both. This is different from a double major: While a student with a double major graduates with a single degree in two subject areas, a student completing a joint degree program actually receives two separate degrees. There are countless variations on joint degree programs, and these types of arrangements can be found at all stages of higher education, from associate to doctoral and professional levels of study. The demand for joint degree programs is higher than many people might expect -- for example, more than 25 percent of students at Duke Law School pursue joint degrees [source: Duke University].

Why enroll in this type of program? If you know what career you'd like to pursue once you get out of school, it may make sense to fast-track your education in that direction by getting your professional degree as quickly as possible. Or you may be interested in harnessing the value of multiple graduate degrees -- the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that graduate degree holders earn a little more than $10,000 a year over their bachelor's holding counterparts [source: U.S. Census Bureau]. Or, you may just love academics.

Whether you're driven by a thirst for knowledge or a competitive job market, a joint degree program might just meet your needs. However, because of the heavier workload involved, it's important to consider whether such a program is truly right for you. Will you have enough time to devote to your schoolwork? Are you willing to spend summers or extra semesters securing your degrees? Remember that you may not be able to take as many electives as your fellow students. Additionally, your grade point average may take a hit due to a heavier course load.

If you've decided that a joint degree program is the best way to achieve your goals, then this article is for you. The process of applying to a joint degree program is often a bit different than that of a more conventional track. In this article, you'll learn about these differences and how to prepare for them. You'll also get a rundown of some of the top and most unique joint degree programs out there today. Read on and find out how to take the plunge.