Dual enrollment programs

Program basics

  • Allows students to take for-credit college classes while still in high school
  • Helps prepare students for the academic and social challenges of undergraduate education
  • Aim to increase college enrollment and overall degree attainment
  • Some programs offer tuition discounts, reducing barriers to post-secondary education

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)


Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse

Target population

High school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active


Outcomes and impact

  • Increased degree attainment
  • Increased college enrollment
  • Increased credit accumulation
  • Increased high school completion

Keys to successful implementation

  • Partner with high schools, as well as two- and four-year colleges, to identify and evaluate appropriate, rigorous courses for program participants to accumulate college-level credits.
  • Conduct broad, widespread recruitment efforts, encouraging students of all backgrounds and most levels of academic achievement to apply.
  • Collaborate with state and local leaders to ensure that both the high schools and colleges offering program courses receive funding for a student’s enrollment, thus creating a more sustainable program over the long term.
  • When resources allow, incorporate on-site college courses taught by a university instructor, rather than a college-level course designed for high school students, into program.
  • Incorporate traditional college preparation services into the program, such as admissions and financial aid application assistance.
  • Prioritize offering courses that clearly apply to a postsecondary course of study leading to a degree or credential, including university core requirements like English and math, as well as career and technical training.
  • Consider developing incentive programs for schools or districts that have high participation rates in dual enrollment programs, such as recognizing the achievement or offering some form of reward.

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