College In High School Alliance
Promoting Effective Transitions Between High School and College

What Is College In High School?

What are Dual Enrollment, Concurrent Enrollment & Early College High Schools?

What Are College In High School Programs?

College in high school programs, such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school, are partnerships between school districts and accredited institutions of higher education that provide high school-age students an intentionally-designed authentic postsecondary experience leading to officially transcripted and transferable college credit towards a recognized postsecondary degree or credential.

With adequate public and private funding and support, high-quality college in high school programs propel all students, but particularly those from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education, towards college-credit accrual and postsecondary success.

Why Are College In High School Programs Important?

At a time when postsecondary completion rates are unacceptably low, college costs are reaching unsustainable levels, and where there is increasing need for economically-relevant degrees and credentials, college in high school programs increase postsecondary credential completion and affordability by creating the academic momentum research shows improves students’ college access and success.


Dual or concurrent enrollment programs are partnerships between local educational agencies (LEAs) and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) that allow high school students to enroll in college courses and earn transferable college credit, setting them on an accelerated path to postsecondary success. Key characteristics of high quality dual and concurrent enrollment programs are:

  1. Collaboration by high school and college faculty within the same discipline on curriculum and assessment alignment;

  2. Efficient resource sharing between the K12 and postsecondary systems; and

  3. Sustainable professional development to raise the rigor of the high school experience. 



Schools with an early college design allow students to simultaneously complete a regular high school diploma and complete college courses as part of an organized course of study leading to a degree or credential. Key characteristics of these successful schools include:

  1. An integrated, organized, transferable college course of study leading to a college degree or credential provided at no cost to students;

  2. A comprehensive system of supports that proactively develops students’ academic skills and the behaviors necessary for high school and college completion; and

  3. A commitment to serving students from low-income families and backgrounds underrepresented in higher education.