Dual Enrollment: Offering Mandatory or Voluntary

Dual Enrollment: Offering Mandatory or Voluntary

State-level dual enrollment policies tend to fall into one of two categories:
  • All high schools must permit all students meeting certain criteria to participate, and eligible postsecondary institutions must admit such students, provided course space is available (referred to here as "mandatory").
  • Dual enrollment programs are based on voluntary partnerships or contracts between districts or high schools and one or more postsecondary institutions, or eligible students may be denied participation by high schools/districts or public postsecondary institutions with available course space (referred to here as "voluntary").
This database indicates whether all high schools and all eligible public postsecondary institutions (two-year and/or four-year, as defined in state policy) in a state are required to provide dual enrollment opportunities, or whether opportunities are limited to students in districts that have established voluntary partnerships with postsecondary institutions, or to school/district/institutional discretion.

Why does it matter?
  • Without a requirement that eligible students may participate, schools and districts may not be inclined to promote this option for students.
  • Ten states require all high schools and eligible public postsecondary institutions to provide dual enrollment opportunities.
  • In 28 states and the District of Columbia, dual enrollment programs are based on voluntary partnerships between K-12 and postsecondary partners, or schools/districts/institutions may limit eligible students from participating.
  • In six states, multiple programs with varying requirements exist.
  • In three states, policy does not specify whether the offering of dual enrollment is mandatory or voluntary.
  • Three states do not have statewide dual enrollment policies.
Last updated: March 2016

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay Zinth: 303.299.3689 or jzinth@ecs.org.

Offering mandatory or voluntary
Alabama Voluntary
Alaska No state policy
Arizona Mandatory. However, offering of community college courses in high schools is on the determination of a community college governing board that it is in the best interest of citizens of the community college district.
Arkansas Voluntary
California Both programs: Voluntary

Original program: However, statute permits a parent to petition a district governing board to authorize a student’s attendance as a special full-time student at a community college. A parent may file an appeal to a petition with the county board of education.

College and Career Access Pathways partnerships: Each CCAP partnership agreement must outline the terms of the partnership, including the total number of high school students to be served. However, the statewide number of full-time equivalent students claimed as special admits may not exceed 10% of the total number of full-time equivalent students claimed statewide.
Colorado Concurrent Enrollment: Voluntary. Student participation subject to approval by district superintendent or designee (or charter school or BOCES administrator), and postsecondary institutions are not required to enter into a cooperative agreement with a local education provider or allow the concurrent enrollment of eligible students. However, each public institution of higher education is strongly encouraged to allow the concurrent enrollment of qualified students. 

An institution of higher education may limit the number of qualified students the institution allows to enroll. If an institution of higher education refuses to allow a qualified student to concurrently enroll, the institution must provide a written explanation of its refusal to the student and the student's local education provider.

ASCENT: Voluntary. Student must be selected by his/her principal.
Connecticut Voluntary
Delaware Voluntary
District of Columbia Voluntary. To implement a dual enrollment program for its students, an LEA must develop a Dual Enrollment Partnership Agreement with a partnering postsecondary institution. No language in a Dual Enrollment Partnership Agreement may require partnering postsecondary institutions to admit dual enrollment students from an LEA.
Florida Mandatory. Each district school superintendent and public postsecondary institution president must develop a comprehensive dual enrollment articulation agreement for the respective school district and postsecondary institution.

District school boards may not refuse to enter into a dual enrollment articulation agreement with a local Florida College System institution if that Florida College System institution has the capacity to offer dual enrollment courses.

A school district may not deny a student access to dual enrollment unless the student is ineligible to participate in the program subject to provisions specifically outlined in statute.

In addition, each high school must offer an International Baccalaureate Program, an Advanced International Certificate of Education Program, or a combination of at least four courses in dual enrollment or Advanced Placement, including one course each in English, mathematics, science, and social studies. To meet this requirement, school districts may provide courses through virtual instruction, if the virtual course significantly integrates postsecondary level content for which a student may earn college credit, as determined by the department of education, and for which a department-approved standardized end-of-course assessment is administered.
Georgia Mandatory. Each public secondary institution must execute a participation agreement.
Hawaii Not specified
Idaho Voluntary. However, all high schools must provide advanced opportunities (defined as dual credit, Advanced Placement, Tech Prep, or International Baccalaureate), or provide opportunities for students to take courses at a postsecondary campus.
Illinois Voluntary
Indiana Mandatory. The governing body of each school corporation must adopt policies to implement the Postsecondary Enrollment Program. Further, each high school must provide at least two dual credit and two Advanced Placement course offerings to qualifying students.

An institution must accept or reject a student applying to participate in the Postsecondary Enrollment Program based on the standards ordinarily used to decide postsecondary student enrollments. However, a student may not be refused admission solely because the student has not graduated from a secondary school.
Iowa Postseconary Enrollment Options: Mandatory

Other Senior Year Plus programs (i.e., Concurrent Enrollment, Project Lead the Way, Career or Regional Academy programs): Voluntary. However, when a district offers another Senior Year Plus (SYP) program, eligible students must be allowed to participate (a district cannot place barriers to participation that are not contained within the legislation).

All programs: Eligible institutions must allow eligible students to participate.  Eligible institutions may not place restrictions on participation in SYP programming beyond those specified in statute or administrative rule.
Kansas Voluntary
Kentucky Mandatory. Each secondary school must establish agreements with one or more postsecondary institutions to offer at least three general education courses and three career and technical education (CTE) courses in a regionally appropriate career pathway to all eligible students. If a secondary school provides access to only the minimal number of dual credit course options, the dual credit courses should be limited to general education courses outlined in the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s General Education Transfer Policy and General Education Transfer Policy Implementation Guidelines and courses that lead to a single career pathway and program of study. 

The CPE/KDE Dual Credit Policy directs the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to establish a statewide Dual Credit Advisory Council that includes representatives from secondary schools, postsecondary institutions, CPE, KDE, KHEAA, KCTCS office, and AIKCU. Among the charges to the Dual Credit Advisory Council is to monitor the minimum dual credit offerings of postsecondary institutions so that all eligible students have access to dual credit coursework. The Advisory Council is required to submit an annual report to CPE, KDE, and the General Assembly that includes eligibility and access of students participating in dual enrollment programs across the Commonwealth.

The Dual Credit Policy also:
  • Provides it is the joint responsibility of the CPE and KDE to ensure all eligible students are provided the opportunity to access at least the minimum of accelerated or dual credit course offerings in general education and CTE programs of study.
  • Provides that if postsecondary institutions choose to offer dual credit courses, they should work with other participating postsecondary institutions to determine dual credit needs in area schools and create a plan for providing at least the minimum accelerated learning opportunities and dual credit for all eligible students in each school.
  • Directs the CPE to create and monitor an accountability system with metrics related to student access, among other metrics, and directs participating postsecondary institutions to report data on dual credit courses to CPE for the monitoring of student access and progress to credential or degree.
  • Makes it the joint responsibility of secondary and postsecondary institutions to increase student access by promoting college and career readiness, and providing degree and career pathway information.
Statute requires each secondary school to offer a core curriculum of AP, IB, dual enrollment, or dual credit courses, using either or both on-site instruction or electronic instruction through the Kentucky Virtual High School or other online alternatives.

In addition, the Guiding Principles for the CPE/KDE Dual Credit Policy provide, "A minimum of three general education courses and three career and technical education (CTE) in a career pathway should be available to all eligible students over the course of their secondary career" and "This policy supports creative and innovative solutions to overcome barriers to student access to dual credit." While the student eligibility requirements in the Dual Credit Policy generally require a student to be in a participating secondary school, exceptions may be considered for other students if recommended by the school faculty and approved by the Chief Academic Officer at the participating postsecondary institution.
Louisiana Dual Enrollment: Mandatory

TOPS – Tech Early Start Award: Voluntary
Maine General program: Not specified

Dual enrollment career and technical education program: Voluntary. However, to the greatest extent possible, a CTE program offered at a center or region must provide students the opportunity to take advantage of any applicable learning pathways, including learning pathways set forth in a collaborative agreement with publicly supported secondary and postsecondary educational institutions that form a dual enrollment career and technical education program.
Maryland Voluntary
Massachusetts General courses: Voluntary

Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership: Voluntary. Students who meet eligibility criteria are not guaranteed participation. Participation is determined by individual institutions, based on capacity and state appropriation.

In FY15, the program had 1,627 enrollments.
Michigan All programs: Mandatory
Minnesota Voluntary
Mississippi Voluntary
Missouri Voluntary. However, under “Resource Standards and Indicators” for public school districts, students must have access to postsecondary preparation (defined as Advanced Courses, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Technical Skills Attainment, Dual Enrollment, and Dual Credit).
Montana Voluntary
Nebraska Voluntary
Nevada Voluntary
New Hampshire No state policy
New Jersey Voluntary. While all public institutions of higher education except Thomas Edison State College must enter into a dual enrollment agreement with at least one school district, a school district may but is not required to enter into a dual enrollment agreement with one or more public institutions of higher education. 

Regulation requires district boards of education to make reasonable efforts to increase the availability of college-level instruction for high school students via courses offered at institutions' campuses and in high schools. Regulation also requires district boards of education to establish a process to approve postsecondary learning opportunities that may consist of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, CLEP, or concurrent/dual enrollment at accredited higher education institutions.
New Mexico Mandatory
New York No state policy
North Carolina Mandatory
North Dakota Voluntary. However, in order to be approved every public and nonpublic high school must make available at least one Advanced Placement or dual credit course.
Ohio Mandatory. All public secondary schools and all public colleges must participate in the College Credit Plus program. Any non-public school or non-public college may participate.

Nonpublic secondary schools may not deny eligible students from participating in College Credit Plus.
Oklahoma Mandatory
Oregon Both programs: Not specified. All school districts are required to provide the opportunity for Accelerated College Credit (i.e., Dual Credit, Two-plus-Two, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate). Every community college district must make at least one Accelerated College Credit program available to each interested school district within the community college district boundaries.
Pennsylvania Voluntary

*Program currently inactive due to inadequate state funds*
Rhode Island Not specified. However, each LEA must offer pathways that include Advanced Placement (AP) courses, career and technical programs, dual enrollment, and opportunities for extended applied learning (e.g., internships, job shadowing, and community service learning). 
South Carolina Voluntary
South Dakota Voluntary
Tennessee Voluntary. However, the office of postsecondary coordination and alignment must encourage LEAs throughout the state, including those in rural areas, to offer early postsecondary credit classes (i.e., dual enrollment, dual credit, Advanced Placement (AP), College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and International Baccalaureate).
Texas Voluntary. However, each school district must offer the equivalent of at least 12 credit hours of college credit in high school, which may be offered through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit, articulated postsecondary courses provided for local credit or articulated postsecondary advanced technical credit courses provided for state credit, or any combination thereof. Institutions are not required to offer dual credit courses.
Utah Voluntary
Vermont Dual Enrollment: Mandatory

Technical: Voluntary
Virginia Mandatory. All local boards must implement an agreement for postsecondary attainment with a community college, specifying the options for students to complete an associate's degree or a one-year Uniform Certificate of General Studies concurrent with a high school diploma. The agreement must specify the credit available for dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses.

In addition, students must have access to at least three Advanced Placement (AP) courses, college-level courses for degree credit, International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, Cambridge courses, or any combination thereof.
Washington All programs: Voluntary

Dual Credit generally: While offering of dual credit is voluntary, legislation encourages each local board to adopt an academic acceleration policy for high school students, under which the district automatically enrolls each student who meets the state standard on the high school statewide student assessment in the next most rigorous level of advanced courses offered by the high school. Students who successfully complete such an advanced course are then enrolled in the next most rigorous advanced course, with the objective that students will eventually be automatically enrolled in courses that offer the opportunity to earn dual credit for high school and college. The legislation provides funds
West Virginia Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment and Early Enrollment: Voluntary. However, state two-year colleges and four-year colleges and universities are directed to work collaboratively with schools to increase educational opportunities and standards for potential college students. Among these efforts are institutional initiatives to provide more opportunities for high school students to complete college courses.

West Virginia EDGE: Mandatory
Wisconsin Youth Options: Unclear

Course Options: Voluntary. If an institution rejects an application, it must include in the notice the reason for the rejection. In addition, a school board must reject a student’s application if the board determines the course conflicts with the student’s individualized education program, and may reject the application if the board determines the course does not satisfy a high school graduation requirement, or does not conform to or support the student’s academic and career plan.

Section 118.15(1)(b): Mandatory

Dual Enrollment: Voluntary

118.55(7r): Voluntary. A school board may refuse to permit a pupil to attend a technical college if the pupil is a child with a disability, and the board determines that the cost would impose an undue financial burden on the school district. A technical college district board may reject an application from a pupil with a record of disciplinary problems, as determined by the district board.
Wyoming Voluntary. However, while offering is not mandated for every district, each school board, in conjunction with the University of Wyoming, community college boards, or other accredited postsecondary institutions must make postsecondary education options programs reasonably accessible to eligible students.

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