Applying to become a joint degree student can get a little complicated, but as long as you stay organized, it shouldn't be especially difficult. Think of it this way: Since you're looking to earn two degrees, be prepared for two application processes. Generally, you must apply separately to each institution, school or department from which you want to earn a degree.
For example, if you'd like to get that master's in both business administration and environmental law from Dartmouth and Vermont that we discussed earlier, you'll have to apply separately to both Dartmouth and Vermont Law School. The same often goes for getting into joint degree programs within the same university. For instance, if you'd like to enroll in the University of Pennsylvania's J.D./M.B.A. program, you must apply to both the Penn Law School and the Wharton School (of business). Each school will consider your application independently from one another, since you must already be enrolled in one of the programs to apply for a joint degree with the other. However, programs at other universities may require you to apply to both simultaneously, so be sure to check the admissions details carefully.
After both programs admit you, you might then need to document your intent to pursue a joint degree through the university's academic advisory office. When narrowing down programs, be sure to check out the specifics at your prospective school's Web site. Either way, you should be sure to voice your intentions in any personal statement or interview you go through as a prospective student, because admissions officers or interviewers may be able to give you more guidance.
However, don't count on being able to jump right in and pursue your joint or dual degrees. Many joint degree programs, especially in undergraduate study, first require you to be a matriculated student at the university. If you are a current student, make an appointment with your advisor -- he or she may be able to direct you to a program that meets your goals and needs.
Because getting through a joint degree program is generally a little more difficult and complicated than completing a single degree, many universities require prospective students to meet with a faculty advisor. You may also have to complete an individual study plan or curriculum, which will outline your coursework plan for completing your two degrees within a reasonable amount of time. These steps will reassure the university that you take seriously your responsibility and intent to complete the program. Additionally, looking ahead and talking through your plans may help you tackle this somewhat tricky process.
Once you've figured out what programs you'd like to pursue and what you'll have to do to apply, you'll be well on your way to getting the education of your dreams. Read on to learn even more about joint degree program admissions.