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, 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 student in high school to participate in college courses or high school courses to prepare for and gain experience for college. It is one form of advanced high school coursework 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.
  • 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.

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 meet 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. Students enroll in college courses at their high school. The course is taught by a qualified high school teacher.  Students earn high school credit when they complete the course. Students may earn college credit when the credit is transcribed on the student’s college transcript when the student enrolls in a public or private college or university. A student’s degree pathway drives the applicability of CTE Dual Credit at a Washington public four-year college or university. 

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.

Finally, students may earn college credit in addition to high school credit by earning an appropriate grade on an exam for Advanced Placement, Cambridge International and/or International Baccalaureate. 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.  

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: 

  • What value does a dual credit course provide to students?  A good plan for Student A may not be a good plan for Student B.
  • What are the student’s personal, educational and career goals?  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.
  • What are Washington’s public four-year colleges and universities looking for? 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.
  • Are students aware of the opportunities and challenges of each dual credit program?  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 and college transcripts.

     

  • What dual credit courses should the student enroll in? 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.
  • What is the potential impact on a student’s financial aid? We encourage students to understand how each dual credit program may impact a student’s financial aid eligibility when in college [Link to Resource page].
  • How do I achieve cost savings?  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 an admissions counselor to learn more about courses that meet general education requirements or provide exposure to majors you may be interested in exploring.
    • Washington has a several resources to determine credit awarding policies and practices for dual credit:
      • Washington Student Achievement Look-Up Tool
      • College and university equivalencies [Link on website to Resources Page]

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



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