Learn: Dual Credit 101

We believe Washingtonians participating in elementary, middle and secondary education are building an education foundation to support a student’s college and career goals after high school.  Students are the builders of this foundation, a foundation which should value and reflect a diverse coursework and the whole student including hobbies, clubs, sport, and community services.

What is Dual Credit in Washington?
Dual credit is an opportunity for a high school student to prepare for and gain experience for college while in high school. It is one form of advanced high school coursework, among others, including advanced high school courses and honors programs. 

There are two types of dual credit programs in Washington:

  • Concurrent enrollment programs provide an opportunity for students to enroll both in high school and college. Credit is earned at the same time for the college course from a college or university and recorded on a student’s high school transcript as high school credit. In Washington, concurrent enrollment programs include Running Start, College in the High School and CTE Dual Credit. For FAQs on concurrent enrollment programs, click here
  • College preparatory programs with exams provide an opportunity for students to enroll in high school courses for which a student may earn college credit dependent on the exam score earned through recognized standardized examinations. In Washington, college preparatory programs with exams include Advanced Placement, Cambridge International and International Baccalaureate. For FAQs on college preparatory programs, click here

There are six dual credit programs in Washington:

  • Running Start (RS) is a concurrent enrollment program. Students enroll in college courses at a community or technical college or public, four-year university. The course is taught by college faculty. Students earn college and high school credit when they complete the course. The credit and grades students earn will be transcribed on their permanent college transcript. All of Washington’s public four-year college and universities accept Running Start credit. Three public four-year universities offer Running Start programs:  Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University and Washington State University Tri-Cities.
  • College in the High School (CiHS) is a concurrent enrollment program. Students enroll in college courses at their high school. The course is taught by a high school instructor approved by the appropriate college/university academic leadership and who meets the minimum qualifications for instructors teaching the course on campus. Students earn college and high school credit when they complete the course. The credit and grades students earn will be transcribed on their permanent college transcript. All of Washington’s public four-year college and universities accept College in the High School credit. Three public four-year universities offer Running Start programs:  Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University and University of Washington Seattle.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) is a college preparatory program with exam. Students enroll in Advanced Placement high school courses. The course is taught by a high school teacher. Students earn high school credit when they complete the course. Students may earn college credit depending on their exam score on a standardized exam. All of Washington’s public four-year college and universities accept Advanced Placement credit.
  • Cambridge International (CI) is a college preparatory program with exam. Students enroll in Cambridge International high school courses. The course is taught by a high school teacher. Students earn high school credit when they complete the course. Students may earn college credit depending on their exam score on a standardized exam. All of Washington’s public four-year college and universities accept Cambridge International credit.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) is a college preparatory program with exam. Students enroll in International Baccalaureate high school courses. The course is taught by a high school teacher. Students earn high school credit when they complete the course. Students may earn college credit depending on their exam score on a standardized exam and may earn additional credit for the International Baccalaureate Diploma. All of Washington’s public four-year college and universities accept International Baccalaureate credit.
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit is a concurrent enrollment program. CTE Dual Credit courses have articulation agreements with aligned college level courses. Students earn college credit while at their high school or skill center by meeting course competencies. The course is taught by a qualified high school teacher, and students earn high school credit upon course completion. Transcription processes vary by agreement. Students application of credit earned may vary depending upon the degree pathway pursued. Transferability of CTE dual credit courses are variable and students should check with the college or university that they hope to attend after high school.

What is the Value of Dual Credit?
Dual credit is an opportunity for growth and exploration. Dual credit programs provide students with an introduction to college including coursework, study habits, college culture, course content and expectations. College requires preparation, commitment and organization. For some students this is a different experience compared to prior educational experiences.  Dual credit programs offer a bridge between K-12 and higher education that gives students a strong start in their first year of college. Participating in dual credit also provides students with an opportunity to explore their educational and career options.

The primary value is exposure, experience and preparation for college. Advanced courses are a way students can explore the intersection of their academic and personal interests and begin to prepare for life after high school and develop a sense of self.

What to Consider Before Enrolling in Dual Credit?
Participation in dual credit should be driven by a student’s personal, career and educational goals and interests with awareness about fit within the different programs including academic readiness and preparation. The key to all advanced coursework is the role and value of learning.

Some things to consider: 

  • A good plan for Student A may not be a good plan for Student B.
  • Students do not need to know what job they will have, what degree they will earn or where they will attend after high school. What students should ask themselves is: What are their interests and what are they considering when asked about their future.
  • We support access to, the enrollment in and successful completion of the most rigorous, quality and relevant high school curriculum that a student is ready and prepared to undertake, taking full advantage of the diverse options available to them throughout their middle and high school years.  Washington’s public four-year college and universities do not value one dual credit program over another. We look at the whole student and a student’s journey up to the point they apply to one of the state’s public four-year college or universities.
  • Washington offers robust dual credit opportunities to high school students. Each dual credit program is different. Students should ask and understand the structure of the program (e.g. coursework, exam structure), and how credit may impact high school graduation requirements, college transcripts and postsecondary educational goals. 
  • Washington’s public four-year college and universities believe the experience of participating in a dual credit course provides value in the experience, preparation and exploration. Students will gain valuable knowledge, skills and experience even if they choose not to take the exam.  
  • We encourage students to value a diverse range of coursework to maximize exploration and interests.  Students should not overload on advanced courses.  More is not always better. We value the whole student both in and outside of the classroom.
  • We encourage students to understand how each dual credit program may impact a student’s financial aid eligibility when in college. Students should and are encouraged to reach out to Financial Aid Offices at their intended institution.
  • College cost savings may be achieved through dual credit but is dependent on several caveats. There is no national research or research in Washington to determine if and if so, how much college cost savings may be attained through dual credit programs. When considering college savings through dual credit participation students should:
    • Focus on college courses found in the first year of college in a wide variety of subjects such as English, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences.
    • Reach out to colleges and universities and meet with admissions counselors to learn more about courses that meet general education requirements or provide exposure to majors students may be interested in exploring.
    • Washington has a several resources to determine credit awarding policies and practices for dual credit:

More to explore! To learn more about dual credit options, visit our resources page.