SEARCH THE DATABASE
Greatvaluecolleges.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

40 Best Community Colleges for Earning College Credit While In High School

The idea of earning college credit in high school may sound like something only top-achieving students would consider. You know the type—top of their class, out-of-this-world GPA, and a schedule full of advanced classes. These are the kids with big plans of attending top universities. Early college credit isn’t just for the cream of the crop anymore, though. Increasingly, colleges and universities (including two-year community colleges) make college credit more accessible to the average student.

Methodology

Undergraduate Tuition

  • Under $10,000: 1 point
  • Under $7,000:  2 points
  • Under $5,000: 3 points
  • Under $3,000: 4 points

National Recognition (Niche)

  • Top 400: 1 point
  • Top 300: 2 points
  • Top 200: 3 points
  • Top 100: 4 points

Dual Enrollment Accreditation (by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships- NACEP)- 1 point

AP Credit

  • 1 point Awarded per AP Exam Score Accepted
  • Awards Credit for Qualifying AP Exam Scores: 1 point
  • Awards Advanced Placement for Qualifying AP Exam Scores: 1 point

CLEP Exams

  • 1 point Awarded per CLEP Exam Score Accepted

Other Opportunities for Earning College Credit Pre-Enrollment- 1 point each

Rating and Ranking the Top Community Colleges for Early College Credit

To develop this ranking of the 40 best community colleges for earning college credit in high school, our editors began with an initial pool of 74 community colleges accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). We then narrowed this pool to consider only those schools with published acceptance policies for AP and CLEP exams. Finally, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the College Board, and Niche. In the case of a tie, the more affordable school appears higher in the ranking.

Skip to Top 10 Schools:

#40—University of Arkansas Community College—Batesville

Batesville, Arkansas

Website

Points: 40

The University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville is one of the most affordable community colleges in our ranking with high school programming. In addition to a nationally accredited dual enrollment program, the school also accepts over a dozen different AP and CLEP scores in exchange for college credit. The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited UACC- Batesville to award these credits to high school students. Its concurrent enrollment program holds special accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Programs (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $2,850

#39—North Arkansas College

Harrison, Arkansas

Website

Points: 46

Upon enrollment to North Arkansas College’s concurrent enrollment program, high school students will have access to all college resources and facilities. In addition to dual enrollment options, the school also offers high school students additional ways to earn credit through NAC’s articulated credit program and the Northark Technical Center. ACT and CLEP scores are also accepted. North Arkansas College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to extend credit to participating high school students. The school has been ranked among the top 400 community colleges in the country by Niche.
Undergraduate Tuition: $2,952

#38—Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas

Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

Website

Points: 48

The high school student programming at Phillips Community College offers students various ways to earn college credit before high school graduation. In addition to the school’s NACEP-accredited dual enrollment program, students can also take advantage of college-level classes at PCCUA’s Career and Technical Center. Additional opportunities are available through AP, CLEP, and the school’s Gear Up program for low-income students. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Phillips Community College to extend these credit-earning opportunities to eligible high school students. Niche has ranked the school among the 150 best community colleges in the United States.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,410

#37—Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Website

Points: 51

The dual enrollment program from Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is referred to as the Accelerated College Education, or ACE program. The credits earned from this program can be applied towards an associate’s degree at Penn Highlands or transferred to a university. Sample dual credit courses include:

  • Principles of Accounting
  • Introduction to Business
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • English Composition

Other credit-earning opportunities for high school students from PHCC include Penn Highlands Academy and Associate in High School. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited the college to award these postsecondary credits. The school’s dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,310

#36—Jefferson College

Hillsboro, Missouri

Website

Points: 51

Jefferson College offers several affordable and versatile college credit programs for high school students, including:

  • Dual Credit
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Early College Academy at Arnold
  • Area Technical School

These various options allow students to take classes on the college campus, at their local high school, or online. Both general education and career and technical education classes are available, and credits are transferrable to other colleges in many cases. The school also accepts some AP and CLEP scores in exchange for additional college credit. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Jefferson College to award these postsecondary credits to pre-college students. Its dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Programs (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,520

#35—South Texas College

McAllen, Texas

Website

Points: 51

High school students interested in obtaining early college credit from South Texas College have four distinct pathways to choose from:

  • Dual Credit Courses
  • Career and Technical Education Programs
  • Designated High Schools
  • Academy Programs

Depending on their chosen route, eligible students can earn some credits toward a degree or obtain a full associate’s degree before their high school graduation. Courses are offered at no charge to the student. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited South Texas College to award postsecondary credits through these high school programs. Its dual enrollment offering is also separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,440

#34—College of Southern Idaho

Twin Falls, Idaho

Website

Points: 55

The College of Southern Idaho offers flexible and affordable options for eligible students to earn college credits while still in high school. The college’s NACEP-accredited dual enrollment program enables high school students to take classes at their local high schools, on campus, or online. Students pay just $75 per credit hour and receive both high school and college credit. Additional financial aid is available through the State of Idaho Advanced Opportunities Program. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has fully accredited the College of Southern Idaho to award these college credits to high school students. Niche has ranked the school among the 250 best community colleges nationwide.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,560

#33—Eastern Iowa Community College

Davenport, Iowa

Website

Points: 57

High school students enrolled in Eastern Iowa Community College’s College Connections program have several different college credit options before their high school graduation. For example, students can choose to take dual enrollment classes online or on campus. They can also elect to take classes that will transfer to a university or complete an associate’s degree in a technical or vocational area. EICC also accepts numerous AP and CLEP scores for additional college credit. The school holds institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,376

#32—Iowa Western Community College

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Website

Points: 58

Iowa Western Community College’s College Early Start (CES) Program is a robust offering that encompasses several different options for high school students interested in earning college credit. The school’s NACEP-accredited concurrent enrollment program, for example, offers dozens of different courses available for dual credit, including:

  • General Biology
  • Introduction to Business
  • Principles of Accounting
  • Statistics
  • Composition

Alternatively, students can pursue a career pathway and earn a vocational certificate before high school graduation. Available pathways include:

  • Construction
  • Agribusiness
  • Welding
  • Culinary Arts

The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Iowa Western CC to award these college credits and certificates to high school students.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,240

#31—North Iowa Area Community College

Mason City, Iowa

Website

Points: 59

At the heart of North Iowa Area Community College’s high school programming is its Career Link offering. Through this program, eligible students can earn up to a year of college credit while still receiving credit towards their high school diploma. Program options include:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Building Trades
  • Health Careers
  • Accounting
  • Marketing and Sales

NIACC is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to extend these college credits to high school students. Its dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. Niche has ranked the school among the top 100 community colleges in the country.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,603

#30—Arkansas State University-Beebe

Beebe, Arkansas

Website

Points: 59

Arkansas State University-Beebe offers a nationally accredited dual enrollment program for high school students looking to earn concurrent credit. The program’s admissions criteria require students to have completed the eighth grade with a minimum GPA of 2.5. For students interested in other college credit pathways before high school graduation, the community college also accepts 30 different AP scores and nearly two dozen CLEP scores in exchange for credit. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited ASU- Beebe to offer these college credits to high school students.
Undergraduate Tuition: $2,928

#29—Mid Michigan College

Harrison, Michigan

Website

Points: 61

Students interested in earning college credit from Mid Michigan College while still in high school have several flexible options. Besides taking classes on campus and online, students can also opt to take dual credit courses at their local high schools. Over 1,200 eligible students take part in the program each year. Standardized test scores or placement test scores may be required before enrollment. Mid Michigan College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to extend these credit-earning opportunities to high school students. Its dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,192

#28—Kirkwood Community College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Website

Points: 65

Kirkwood Community College offers opportunities for high school students to earn college credit through its dual enrollment program as well as its Career Academies. These offerings are made available to students at participating high schools free of charge. Students interested in career academies can choose from areas of study like:

  • Graphic Communication
  • Computer Programming and Software Development
  • Pre-Criminal Justice
  • Dental Assisting
  • Hospitality Management

Kirkwood Community College is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to offer these early college credits. Niche has ranked the school among the top 350 community colleges in the United States.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,028

#27—NorthWest Arkansas Community College

Bentonville, Arkansas

Website

Points: 65

NorthWest Arkansas Community College offers over half a dozen different ways for high school students to earn college credit before graduation. In addition to traditional options such as AP, CLEP, and concurrent enrollment, the school is also home to an early college online experience, a junior merchant program, and high school students’ opportunity to earn a full associate’s degree. The school holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission, and its dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. Niche has ranked NorthWest Arkansas CC among the top 200 community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,072

#26—Lewis and Clark Community College

Godfrey, Illinois

Website

Points: 66

Lewis and Clark Community College’s High School Partnership Program enables eligible students to take high school and college credit classes. The program is free, and there is no cost for books or other required materials. Students can take classes that count towards required general education coursework or courses that are more technical or vocational in nature through the program. Example dual credit offerings include:

  • Introduction to Chemistry
  • History of Art
  • First-Year English
  • Public Speaking
  • Graphic Design
  • Introduction to Welding Industry
  • Technical-Integrated Math

L&C is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to extend these college credits to high school students. The school’s dual enrollment program is also accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). The school has been ranked among the nation’s top 40 community colleges by Niche.
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,552

#25—Mesabi Range College

Virginia, Minnesota

Website

Points: 68

Mesabi Range College offers high school students two different options for earning college credit before their graduation:

  • Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO)
  • Concurrent Enrollment Program (CEP)

The concurrent enrollment program is accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Programs (NACEP). The school also offers an Upward Bound program to provide additional support to high schoolers preparing for college academics. Students can also submit passing scores on AP and CLEP exams to be considered for additional credit awards. Mesabi Range College is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award these post-secondary credits. Niche has ranked it among the 400 best community colleges in America.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,467

#24—Onondaga Community College

Syracuse, New York

Website

Points: 68

Onondaga Community College is home to an entire suite of early college programs for high school students. Among the numerous options students can take advantage of include:

  • College Credit Now
  • Early OCC
  • Interactive Video Classroom (IVC) Program
  • Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH)
  • Smart Scholars
  • Success Academy

In addition to these credit-earning opportunities, students may also submit AP and CLEP exam scores for credit consideration. Advanced placement may also be awarded. Onondaga Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to extend this postsecondary credit to high school students. The school’s dual enrollment program also holds accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,574

#23—National Park College

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Website

Points: 69

National Park College makes it easy for high school students to earn college credit through its NACEP-accredited dual enrollment program. Students enrolled in this program will take college-level classes at their high schools and submit grades for both secondary and post-secondary credit grades. Certain eligibility requirements may apply, such as minimum GPA and ACT scores. This concurrent enrollment offering is made possible through the school’s accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Niche has ranked National Park College among the top 400 community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,000

#22—Community College of Denver

Denver, Colorado

Website

Points: 69

The college credit opportunities at the Community College of Denver are flexible enough to accommodate different high school students, not just those who earn top grades or even those who want to attend a university. For example, the school’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech) is designed specifically for students who wish to enter the workforce immediately upon high school graduation. The school also offers more traditional ways for high school students to earn college credits such as dual enrollment, CLEP, and AP. Community College of Denver is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,831

#21—Des Moines Area Community College

Ankeny, Iowa

Website

Points: 70

Des Moines Area Community College offers flexible options for students who wish to begin earning college credits in high school. Through the school’s Career Advantage program, high school students can take classes on campus, at their high schools, or online. After graduation, these credits can be put towards an associate’s degree or transferred to a four-year university. DMACC is institutionally accredited to award college credits to high school students by The Higher Learning Commission. Niche has ranked the school among the leading community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,800

#20—Laramie County Community College

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Website

Points: 72

Laramie County Community College offers several options and numerous resources to high school students who want to earn early college credits. In addition to its NACEP-accredited concurrent enrollment program, the school also offers financial aid and additional support services through its Gear Up program. Career-minded high school students can choose from vocational certificate programs, including:

  • Health Science
  • Computer Science
  • Automotive Technology
  • Fire Science
  • EMS Paramedics

The Higher Learning Commission has accredited LCCC to award these early college credits to high schoolers. Niche has ranked it among the 200 best community colleges in the United States.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,433

#19—Inver Hills Community College

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Website

Points: 75

The Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program for Inver Hills Community College enables eligible high school students to begin taking dual enrollment courses beginning their 10th-grade year. There is no cost for tuition or materials, and students earn credit for both high school and college for each course they take. The school also accepts dozens of different AP and CLEP examination scores for credit and advanced placement. The Higher Learning Commission has granted IHCC the institutional accreditation to award this college credit to high school students. Niche has ranked the school among the best community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,485

#18—Itasca Community College

Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Website

Points: 75

Itasca Community College offers high school students opportunities to earn dual credit through its Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). To be eligible, students must be in their sophomore, junior, or senior year of high school, and they must maintain a minimum GPA to remain in the program. The school also accepts dozens of AP and CLEP scores in exchange for additional credit towards a degree. Itasca Community College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award these post-secondary credits to high school students. Its dual enrollment program also holds special accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Niche has ranked ICC among the top 300 community colleges in the United States.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,467

#17—College of Western Idaho

Nampa, Idaho

Website

Points: 75

The primary way for high school students to earn college credit from the College of Western Idaho is through its Dual Credit program. This program enables eligible students to earn up to 36 credit hours of general education credits that are transferrable to any public college in the state. Alternatively, high school students can enroll in CWI’s Technical Dual Credit program, which enables students to earn dual credit in technical and vocational areas such as:

  • Diesel Technology
  • Welding
  • Dental Assisting
  • Information Technology
  • Automotive Technology

The College of Western Idaho holds institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Its dual enrollment programs are separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,336

#16—Moberly Area Community College

Moberly, Missouri

Website

Points: 77

The NACEP-accredited dual enrollment program at Moberly Area Community College offers eligible students the opportunity to begin earning college credit as early as their freshman year. A minimum GPA is required for eligibility. Some of the dual credit courses students can take advantage of include:

  • Personal Finance
  • Art Survey and Appreciation
  • Western Civilization
  • General Chemistry

The school’s Senior Summer Start program also allows high school students to enroll in free college classes the summer before beginning college. MACC is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award these postsecondary credits to high schoolers.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,370

#15—Tompkins Cortland Community College

Dryden, New York

Website

Points: 78

Tompkins Cortland Community College is home to both a traditional concurrent enrollment program called College Now and an Early Degree program. Students can take courses on campus, online, and at their local high schools. Particularly ambitious students can earn enough credits to fulfill the associate’s degree requirements even before they graduate from high school. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited Tompkins Cortland to offer these pre-college credits. The school’s dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,258

#14—North Hennepin Community College

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Website

Points: 78

High schoolers interested in earning college credit before graduation will find three distinct options at North Hennepin Community College:

  • Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)
  • Concurrent Enrollment
  • Early/Middle College

These various programs enable high school students to begin earning dual credit as early as their sophomore years. In some cases, students can complete their high school education and an associate’s degree simultaneously. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited NHCC to award these college credits to high school students. The school’s dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,556

#13—Minnesota State College-Southeast

Winona, Minnesota

Website

Points: 80

At Minnesota State College-Southeast, there are three primary ways for high school students to earn college credit before graduation:

  • Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)
  • Connect to College (C2C)
  • Online Credits in the High School

Depending on which option they pursue, students can take free college classes on campus, online, or at their local high schools. AP and CLEP exam scores are also considered for credit. The Higher Learning Commission has extended institutional accreditation to Minnesota State College-Southeast, enabling the school to award these post-secondary credits. The school’s dual enrollment programs are also separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Niche has recognized the school as one of the top 200 community colleges in the U.S.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,686

#12—Lake Superior College

Duluth, Minnesota

Website

Points: 82

Lake Superior College

The college credit opportunities for high schoolers at Lake Superior College include concurrent enrollment options through the school’s College in the Schools program and online classes offered through the college’s Honors Online option. By taking advantage of these programs, eligible students can earn enough credits to graduate high school with an associate’s degree. Most passing AP and CLEP scores are also accepted. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Lake Superior College to extend college credit to high school students. The school’s concurrent enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Programs (NACEP). LSC has also been ranked among the 150 best community colleges in the nation by Niche.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,334

#11—Alexandria Technical and Community College

Alexandria, Minnesota

Website

Points: 84

High school students can begin earning college credits toward a degree from Alexandria Technical and Community College as early as their sophomore years. The school’s NACEP-accredited Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program enables students to earn enough dual credit to graduate high school with an associate’s degree. The school also accepts numerous AP and CLEP exam scores.  ATCC is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award college credits to high school students. Niche has recognized it as one of the top 35 community colleges in the United States.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,565

#10—Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

Points: 84

Minneapolis Community and Technical College offers high school students four different options for earning college credit prior to graduation:

  • College NOW
  • Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)
  • D3-Destination: Diploma to Degree
  • Articulation Agreements

Depending on which option is most suitable for them, students will take college-level classes at their local high schools or on campus. AP and CLEP exam scores are also considered for additional credit. MCTC is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to extend these credit-earning opportunities to high schoolers. The school’s dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). It has been ranked among the 300 best community colleges in the nation by Niche.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,545

#9—Monroe Community College

Rochester, New York

Website

Points: 86

High school students interested in earning college before graduation can do so through Monroe Community College’s dual enrollment program. Eligible students can enroll in up to eleven credit hours per semester. In most cases, the credit can be transferred to other colleges or universities. MCC also accepts numerous AP and CLEP examination scores in exchange for both credit and advanced placement. The Middle States Commission of Higher Education has accredited Monroe Community College to award these college credits to high schoolers. The college’s dual enrollment program is also accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,336

#8—Everett Community College

Everett, Washington

Website

Points: 91

In the High School program, Everett Community College’s College enables high school students in grades 10-12 to begin earning early college credit while simultaneously completing their high school coursework. Numerous courses are available for dual credit, including:

  • General Physics
  • Applied College Algebra
  • Introduction to Business
  • American Government
  • Principles of Marketing

Need-based scholarships are also available to College in the High School students. Everett Community College is institutionally accredited to award these college credits to high schoolers by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Its dual enrollment program also holds accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,881

#7—Owensboro Community and Technical College

Owensboro, Kentucky

Website

Points: 93

Owensboro Community and Technical College is home to a NACEP-accredited dual/concurrent enrollment program referred to as Discover College. Eligible students enrolled in the program can opt to take classes for dual high school and college credit either at their local high schools or on campus. OCTC also offers a more intensive Early College program for juniors and seniors who wish to enroll in college courses on a full-time basis. This option leads to an associate’s degree before high school graduation. Owensboro Community and Technical College is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Niche has ranked the school among the top 300 community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,368

#6—Normandale Community College

Bloomingdale, Minnesota

Website

Points: 95

There are three main ways high school students can earn college credit through Normandale Community College:

  • Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)
  • Summer High School Enrollment
  • Concurrent Enrollment

The PSEO program includes general education courses and career and technical education classes and is available to eligible students as early as their sophomore year in high school. NCC also accepts most passing scores on AP and CLEP examinations. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the school to extend these credit-earning opportunities to high schoolers. Its concurrent enrollment program also holds separate accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Niche has recognized the college as one of the 400 best community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,964

#5—Hudson Valley Community College

Troy, New York

Website

Points: 99

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

The College in the High School program at Hudson Valley Community College is open to high school students throughout New York. The program enables high school juniors and seniors to take dual credit courses on campus or online. Some course offerings include:

  • Survey of Art History
  • Information Technology Essentials
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Business Mathematics

Scholarship opportunities are also available to low-income students. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited HVCC to award college credit to high school students. Its dual enrollment program is also separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,962

#4—Hawkeye Community College

Waterloo, Iowa

Website

Points: 99

High school students enrolled in Hawkeye Community College’s early college programs have several different options to earn college credit. In addition to a NACEP-accredited concurrent enrollment program, the two-year school also offers career academies for vocationally-minded students and Project Lead the Way, a STEM-focused initiative. All tuition and fees are paid for by the students’ individual school districts. The Higher Learning Commission fully accredits hawkeye Community College. Niche has ranked the school among the top 150 community colleges in the nation.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,624

#3—Northern Virginia Community College

Annandale, Virginia

Website

Points: 106

The dual enrollment program from Northern Virginia Community College is primarily designed for juniors and seniors, though sophomore applications may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Select courses are offered online, on-campus, and at participating high schools. Students can choose from classes in dozens of different academic fields, including:

  • Information Technology
  • Environmental Science
  • Sociology
  • Mathematics
  • Political Science

NOVA is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award these postsecondary credits to high school students. Its dual enrollment program also holds special accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,610

#2—Vincennes University

Vincennes, Indiana

Website

Points: 108

Vincennes University is home to an entire suite of programs for high school students who want to begin earning college credit. In addition to a concurrent enrollment program, the school also offers the following programs for eligible high school students:

  • 21st Century Scholars
  • Educational Talent Search
  • Project ASPIREE
  • Upward Bound
  • Early College

VU’s dual enrollment program, called Project EXCEL, is accredited by the National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). The school itself holds institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.  
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,074

#1—Wenatchee Valley College

Wenatchee, Washington

Website

Points: 112

Wenatchee Valley College offers several options for students interested in earning early college credit:

  • College in the High School
  • Running Start
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit
  • Wenatchee Valley Technical Skills Center

Depending on which pathway they choose, students can take dual credit courses on the college campus, high school, or online. Credits earned can be put towards an associate’s degree at WVC or transferred to a four-year university. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has accredited the college to offer these postsecondary credits to eligible high school students. The school’s dual enrollment program is separately accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,208

About Community Colleges and Their High School Programming: Options for Everyone

Community colleges, in particular, are stepping up their games in terms of their high school programming. These schools are offering options for high schoolers that can’t be found at most universities. For instance, many two-year colleges offer career and technical programs that allow students to earn vocational certificates or even associate’s degrees before graduating high school. These students are prepared to enter high-paying occupations far ahead of their peers.

Of course, there are also options for students who want to transfer to a four-year school for a bachelor’s degree. In many cases, students can complete most or all of their general education courses through early community college programs and then transfer these credits to the university of their choice upon graduation.

Early College Credit Versus Dual (or Concurrent) Enrollment

As you consider your opportunities to earn community college credit while still in high school, you’ll likely encounter both early college credit programs as well as dual/concurrent enrollment options. While these credit-earning opportunities are similar, there are some key differences you need to be aware of. The most important distinction has to do with the type (or types!) of credit earned through each program. While early college programs enable students to earn college credit for classes taken during high school, dual or concurrent enrollment programs allow students to earn both college and high school credit for the same class.

Arguably, dual/concurrent enrollment programs are the superior choice here. After all, you put in the same amount of effort and get twice the credit than an early college program. Don’t discount early college opportunities altogether, though. You may find that these options feature classes not available through a dual or concurrent enrollment program.

Other Ways to Earn College Credit During High School

Thus far, we’ve discussed credit-earning programs from community colleges such as early college options as well as dual and concurrent enrollment programs. There are other ways to earn college credit before receiving your high school diploma, though.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

Administered by The College Board, the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows students to demonstrate their learning in a specific academic discipline before enrolling in college. With a passing score on a CLEP exam, you may be eligible to receive college credit for certain classes without actually taking them. Each college and university will set its own criteria regarding which CLEP exams it will accept and how many credits it will award for each exam.

Advanced Placement (AP)

Another College Board program that extends college credit-earning opportunities to high school students is the Advanced Placement, or AP, program. Though similar to CLEP, the AP program requires students to take a college-level class during high school in addition to taking and passing an exam to receive college credit. Colleges and universities across the country have varying policies for AP score acceptance.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

An alternative option for earning college credit during high school is through the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Like AP, the IB program consists of both classes and examinations. However, IB students can begin taking classes during their elementary and middle school years. Only high school IB students are eligible to take exams for college credit, though.

Frequently-Searched Community College Early College and Dual Enrollment Programs

Community College of Baltimore County – The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) offers high school students several opportunities to earn college credit. In addition to dual and parallel enrollment options, the school offers a Diploma to Career (D2C) program for students who desire to graduate high school with a vocational certificate.

Bakersfield College – The early college program at Bakersfield College enables high school students to earn college credits significantly reduced tuition rate. Students can complete the program with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree through a rigorous schedule of dual enrollment courses.

Hudson County Community College – High school students enrolled in Hudson County Community College’s early college program can earn up to 18 credit hours per year toward a college degree. Rising juniors and seniors are encouraged to apply.

Lehigh Carbon Community College – The early college program from Lehigh Carbon Community College enables students to work towards an associate’s degree while also completing their high school classes. Placement tests or SAT scores are required for eligibility.

Catawba Valley Community College – The early college program from Catawba Valley Community College is called the Challenger Early College High School. Students enrolled in the program have opportunities to earn dual credit in academic disciplines such as art, business, health services, engineering technology, and more.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College – Most dual enrollment students at Chandler-Gilbert Community College are juniors and seniors, but first-year students and sophomores may also be eligible for the program. Students pay just $85 per credit hour for classes.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Earning Community College Credit in High School

The notion of earning college credits during high school can be an overwhelming one. After all, high school alone can be stressful. If you’re considering making the most of your high school years, you’re going to need all the support and information you can get. It’s not impossible, though, and community colleges are making it easier than ever to earn both college and high school credits at the same time. To help you in your endeavor, we’ve fielded some of the most commonly-asked questions about early college and dual enrollment programs. Keep in mind that the information provided here is general in nature and not a substitute for advice from your high school counselor or community college representative.

Q: Can I earn college credit during high school?

A: In most cases, yes. Early college programs, as well as dual credit opportunities, are available through many local community colleges. Talk to your high school counselor to find out what options are available to you.

Q: How much community college credit can be earned while still in high school?

A: Each community college will determine the maximum number of credits possible. In some cases, you may be able to earn enough credits for an associate’s degree before your high school graduation!

Q: What are the eligibility requirements for early community college programs?

A: Each community college will set its own eligibility requirements for its early credit and dual enrollment programs. Generally, you will need to be a junior or senior in high school and be passing all of your classes in order to be eligible. College entrance exams or placement tests may also be required.

Q: What are the benefits of earning early college credit?

A: There are many benefits to earning college credit prior to your high school graduation. Some of these advantages include a shortened degree completion time, excellent college preparation, and reduced tuition costs.

Q: How much do these early college programs cost?

A: Tuition and registration fees may vary by school and program. In some cases, your school district may foot the bill. Even if some costs are associated with these programs, they are usually significantly less than what you would pay for the same courses as a college freshman.

Q: Should I consider an early community college program if I plan to attend a university after high school?

A: Yes. Many community colleges offer high schoolers programs that enable them to earn credits that will later transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year university. Often, taking these courses at a community college during high school can significantly reduce your degree’s total cost.

Q: Are early college and dual/concurrent enrollment classes available online?

A: Yes. Increasingly, community colleges are offering their early college high school classes via distance education. Whether or not you can take classes online will depend on your specific early college program, however.

Related Resources: