What is Dual Credit?

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Dual credit programs allow secondary students to earn college credit for courses taken while they are in high school. Read on to learn how dual credit works, and explore some other options available for students looking to earn credit before starting college.

About Dual Credit Courses

More than 80% of public U.S. high schools offer dual credit courses that allow students to simultaneously earn high school credit and credit toward college degrees or technical certificates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Some of the most common dual credit course options for high school students are core general education courses that are required for most college degree programs, though students can also complete career or technical education coursework. Depending on the course and school, classes may be taken at the student's high school, on a college campus, or online.

Typical Dual Credit Eligibility Requirements

Dual credit courses are usually only open to high school juniors and seniors. In order to enroll, students typically must meet the same admissions requirements as their college-level peers. For some courses and programs, these include minimum required scores on college admissions exams, such as the ACT or SAT. If you're interested in dual credit courses but have not yet taken the tests required by your school's program, check out Study.com's comprehensive online prep courses for the SAT and ACT exams and other college placement tests.

Benefits of Dual Credit Courses

If you're a high school student who meets eligibility requirements, the benefits of taking dual credit courses are plentiful:

  • You'll be able to earn your degree or certificate in a shorter period of time.
  • Taking dual credit courses in high school costs less than taking college-level classes while enrolled in a college or postsecondary technical school.
  • Most dual credit course credits may be transferred to whatever college you plan to attend, be it nearby or across the country.
  • You'll gain college-level academic experience, making your overall transition to post-secondary education much smoother.
  • Studies indicate that if you take dual credit courses in high school, you'll have a greater chance of succeeding in college and earning your degree.

Other Options for Earning College Credit

If you don't meet the qualifications for dual credit courses, or if they aren't available through your school, you may want to consider other options that allow you to earn college credit without having to take on-campus courses (and pay hefty tuition bills). For example:

  • Study.com offers dozens of online courses you can use to earn college credits for a fraction of most college tuition fees. These courses are transferable to more than 2,000 colleges across the country, and all are self-paced, allowing you to study on your own schedule. To explore this option, check out the full list of Study.com online college credit courses.
  • Students can take one or more of the 33 exams offered through the College Board's College Level Examination Program (CLEP). CLEP exams cost $80 each, and students who pass them are eligible for credit at nearly 3,000 colleges and universities. If you choose to take CLEP tests, Study.com has prep courses for most of the exams. Explore the CLEP study guides and test prep courses offered.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.