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: (1) 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"). (2) 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 ("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.
  • Eight states require all high schools and eligible public postsecondary institutions to provide dual enrollment opportunities.
  • In 29 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 four states, policy does not specify whether the offering of dual enrollment is mandatory or voluntary.
  • Three states do not have statewide dual enrollment policies.
Note: This database does not include information about Tech Prep or early/middle college high school programs. Information about such programs is included in the ECS career/technical education and early/middle college high school databases.

Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agency Web sites. A profile was sent to each state for review and modification, as needed.

Last updated: December 2013

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay Zinth: 303.299.3689 or jdounay@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.


California Voluntary. However, a parent may 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.
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. 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 Florida College System institution president must develop a comprehensive dual enrollment articulation agreement for the respective school district and Florida College System 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 Not specified
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 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 Voluntary. However, each secondary school must 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.
Louisiana Dual Enrollment: Mandatory

TOPS – Tech Early Start Award: Unclear
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 Not specified
Michigan Both programs: Mandatory
Minnesota Mandatory
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. However, the program must seek the involvement of all institutions of higher education, two-year and four-year, public and nonpublic, and all districts, including those not in close proximity to an appropriate institution of higher education.
New Mexico Mandatory
New York No state policy
North Carolina Voluntary
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 Voluntary. Each city, local, exempted village, joint vocational school district and chartered nonpublic high school must provide students in grades 9-12 with the opportunity to participate in a dual enrollment program (i.e., Advanced Placement, early college high school, Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, and any similar program established pursuant to an agreement between a school district or nonpublic high school and an institution of higher education). However, postsecondary institutions are not required to accept eligible students.
Oklahoma Mandatory
Oregon Both programs: Not specified. All school districts are required to provide the opportunity for Accelerated College Credit (i.e., Dual Credit, Expanded Options, 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 college-level courses for degree credit, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Cambridge courses, or any combination thereof.
Washington All programs: Voluntary

Dual Credit generally: While offering of dual credit is voluntary, 2013 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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