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.

  • Twelve states require all high schools and eligible public postsecondary institutions to provide dual enrollment opportunities.
  • In 20 states, 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 five states, one dual enrollment program is mandatory and the other is voluntary.
  • In nine states, policy does not specify whether the offering of dual enrollment is mandatory or voluntary.
  • Four 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.

Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agency Web sites, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

Last updated: December 2, 2008

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org.

Offering mandatory or voluntary
Alabama Voluntary
Alaska No state policy
Arizona Mandatory
Arkansas Mandatory
California Voluntary
  • Not specified.
  • Postsecondary Enrollment Options: When a student enrolls in an institution, the district and postsecondary institution enter into a cooperative agreement.
Connecticut Voluntary
Delaware Mandatory
District of Columbia No state policy
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: Districts and community college presidents must develop a comprehensive articulated acceleration program for the students enrolled in their respective school districts and service areas. Each state university president is encouraged to designate a university representative to participate in the development of the interinstitutional articulation agreements for each school district within the university service area.
Georgia Not specified
Hawaii Not specified
  • Not specified.
  • Notes/Citation: However, all high schools in the state must offer "Advanced Opportunities," which may include dual credit, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Tech Prep. In addition, the state board has directed postsecondary institutions to work with districts to provide dual credit options, and and has made a review of each institution’s efforts in this area a part of each president’s annual performance review.
Illinois Not specified
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: Every high school must provide a minimum of two dual credit courses. The Indiana concurrent enrollment partnership (CEP) is tasked with researching fiscal costs to expand dual credit for each 11th and 12th grade student for free or at a reduced tuition.
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: For both Postsecondary Enrollment Options and Concurrent Enrollment
  • State has both mandatory and voluntary dual enrollment programs.
  • Notes/Citation: Under program set in KAN. ADMIN. REGS. 88-26-3, a high school student who meets certain criteria may enroll in a community college ("mandatory offering"). In the form established in statute, a district and a postsecondary institution may create an agreement under which a high school teacher teaches a college-level course at the high school during the regular school day ("voluntary offering").
  • Voluntary.
  • Notes/Citation: However, all high schools must offer Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit or dual enrollment.
Louisiana Voluntary
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: For main dual enrollment program
Maryland Voluntary
Massachusetts Not specified
Michigan Mandatory
Minnesota Mandatory
  • Voluntary.
  • Notes/Citation: All state programs are voluntary
Missouri Voluntary
Montana Voluntary
Nebraska Voluntary
Nevada Voluntary
New Hampshire No state policy
New Jersey
  • Voluntary.
  • Notes/Citation: Districts must "make reasonable efforts to increase the availability of college-level instruction for high school students[.]"
New Mexico
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: All districts must offer a program of courses for dual-credit in cooperation with a postsecondary institution, effective with the 2008-2009 school year.
New York No state policy
North Carolina Voluntary
North Dakota Not specified
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: For Post-Secondary Enrollment Options. Forty-nine districts are offering dual enrollment on the high school campus.
  • Voluntary.
  • Notes/Citation: For Seniors to Sophomores. Forty-nine schools and their postsecondary partners are piloting the program, effective fall 2008.
Oklahoma Mandatory
Oregon Voluntary
Pennsylvania Voluntary
Rhode Island No state policy
South Carolina Not specified
South Dakota Mandatory
Tennessee Not specified
Texas Voluntary
Utah Voluntary
  • State has both mandatory and voluntary dual enrollment programs.
  • Notes/Citation: VSC Dual Enrollment: Mandatory. Technical program: Students may participate only if approved by district of residence and if accepted by the postsecondary institution (student eligibility criteria not set in state policy).


Notes/Citation: While all high schools are not required to offer dual enrollment per se, Virginia's community colleges must report annually to the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), dual enrollment course enrollment data as part of the state's annual accountability measures. The 4-year institutions in Virginia are not precluded from offering dual enrollment coursework but are also not required to report on their enrollment figures. In addition, high schools must offer access to at least three college-level coursesstudies — these may be Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge courses, or dual enrollment.

  • State has both mandatory and voluntary dual enrollment programs.
  • Notes/Citation: All eligible students may enroll in programs at community and technical colleges. However, a student may enroll in programs at universities only if the student's local board has decided to participate in the program.
West Virginia
  • Voluntary.
  • Notes/Citation: While all local boards must adopt policies allowing students to complete college-level work, it is not clear that all public postsecondary institutions must accept high school students who meet minimum requirements.
  • Mandatory.
  • Notes/Citation: However, postsecondary admission is contingent on space available for non-dual-enrollment students. A technical college district board may deny admission to a student who has a record of disciplinary problems. In addition, a school board may not allow an at-risk student to participate at a technical college, and may refuse a student's request to attend a technical college if the student is a child with a disability and the board determines the payment to the technical college district board, adjusted to reflect the cost of any special services required for the student, would impose an undue financial burden on the school district.
  • Voluntary.
  • Notes/Citation: However, districts and postsecondary partners must make postsecondary education options programs reasonably accessible to eligible students.

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