College FAQ: What is Dual Credit?

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 9/22/16 8:30 AM

The term “dual-credit” sounds like a great thing—the more credit, the better, right?

But what exactly is a dual-credit course? Who can take them? How much do they cost in relation to a regular college course? What should a dual-credit course mean to you?

Our latest College FAQ may just be able to answer these for you. Here are the most frequently asked questions we hear about dual-credit courses. 


What is a dual-credit program?

The National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships defines “dual-credit” as “the opportunity for high school students to take college credit-bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teachers.”

In dual-credit programs, you earn credit that goes toward your high school requirements—at the same time, you’re also earning college credit. The courses you take will help you graduate from high school, prepare for what your academic experience will be like once you take that next step to college life, and you’ll have a leg up on your applicant competitors.

As a dual-credit student, you will already have college courses completed before enrolling in college, and they’ll all appear on your university transcript once you start your undergrad studies.

What is the difference between an AP course and a dual-credit course?

Courses out of the AP Program are part of the College Board organization—they require students to take a one- or two-semester course that ultimately leads up to a rigorous test that will potentially earn them college credit. If you pass the test with a high enough score, your future college will provide you with college credit in courses that are most similar to your AP course. (Most colleges want you to score a 3 out of 5 on the test, but some colleges want you to score higher.)

A dual-credit course is different—it comes directly (and officially) from a college, itself, through an established partnership with a high school. That means your college transcript will show that you spent time getting educated at the school offering dual credit.

Are dual-credit classes only taught on the partner college’s campus?

Nope! Many universities and colleges offer their dual-credit courses right in the high school(s) they partner with.

Which courses are offered, however, depend on both the institution and the high school involved. IPFW’s dual-credit program Collegiate Connection™ offers over 45 course options in dual-credit. We might have some available at your high school, so check the link!

Are the credits from dual-credit courses transferrable?

Usually, yes. Most dual-credit courses can be transferred either to the university offering the program or to other universities across the nation. It really depends on the institution offering the classes and the agreement it has with your high school.

Does a dual-credit class cost the same as a college class? 

Usually, no. Dual-credit courses taught in high school are the academic equivalent of their college counterparts, but the sticker price of the dual-credit course is usually significantly lower. At IPFW—depending on which dual-credit course you take—you can enroll in a dual-credit course for 60-90% less tuition than you could as a regular college student.

Am I considered a student of the partner institution if I’m part of their dual-credit program?

Let’s be clear on one thing—dual-credit is not pre-college. It is college.

On that note, yes—you’re considered a student of the partner institution. You’re granted access to university resources and given exposure to campus and university faculty just like any other student enrolled at the college.

Who can enroll in a dual-credit class?

Most states have rules regarding how dual-credit is delivered to be sure the collegiate level of the courses isn’t at odds with a student’s capability. Normally, dual-credit courses are limited to juniors and seniors in high school who will need to maintain a certain cumulative GPA once they’re enrolled in the program—this is normally between a 2.5 and a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. These rules are only set by the high school, university, and/or government to ensure every student has their best chance for success.

What if I can’t afford dual-credit courses?

Maybe financial support is where you have concerns—at some institutions, public dual-credit college tuition is waived by the college for students who qualify for the Free and/or Reduced Lunch Program and who are approved to take dual-credit courses. 

Is there a limit to how many credits you can earn in dual-credit classes?

In Indiana, there’s no longer a state-imposed limit on dual credits—still, the high schools or colleges involved in the partnership may place their own policies on credit limits.

Students also need to achieve (at minimum) the equivalent of a 2.0 on a 4.0 unweighted grading scale (as established by the eligible institution) for the student to then enroll in related dual credit courses in the same subject.

Are colleges looking at whether I’ve taken a dual-credit class? 

Depending on the dual-credit course and the grade given, a student enrolling and completing dual-credit classes is usually a good sign that their motivation and academic interest in attending college is high.

Colleges may see dual-credit work as a positive when considering an application for admission or advanced academic standing in an honors program.

Click or tap here to learn more about IPFW’s Collegiate Connection program and then download the IPFW Admissions team’s Ultimate College Decision Guide to get a head-start on all the ways you can prepare yourself to make it big on a college campus.

Download the checklist - The Ultimate College Decision Timeline





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