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Dual Credit

Dual credit programs allow students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Students who earn college credit are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in college, and complete college degrees.

There are three main ways that students can get dual credit. 

1. Credit by passing a college course

Complete and pass college courses through Running Start and College in the High School. 

2. Credit by examination 

Earn a score of 3 or better on standardized exams. Exams include Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge International Program.

3. Credit by articulation

Complete career and technical education (CTE) dual credit courses. 

Although multiple dual credit programs are offered in Washington, not all programs are available at all high schools. Learn more about specific programs in the tabs below.

Dual Credit Programs in Washington State

Running Start

Running Start

Washington's Running Start program allows 11th and 12th grade students to take college courses at Washington’s community and technical colleges and at Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, and Northwest Indian College. Running Start courses are regular college courses offered on the college campus. Students pay no tuition. However, they do pay for transportation, books, and fees.

College in the High School

College in the High School

College in the High School (CiHS) programs provide college academic courses to 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. Courses are taught at the high school, by high school teachers, with college curriculum, college textbooks, and oversight by college faculty and staff. An institution of higher education may charge tuition fees per credit to each student enrolled. Some state subsidies are available for rural and small schools and for low-income students. WSAC administers the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Pilot Program and provides tuition assistance for low-income students enrolled in CiHS courses at participating pilot high schools. 

Washington Reviewed College in the High School Programs
2023-24 School Year

NACEP Accredited 
  • Central Washington University
  • Eastern Washington University 
  • Edmonds College 
  • Everett Community College 
  • Lewis-Clark State College
  • University of Washington Seattle
  • Wenatchee Valley College 
  • Whatcom Community College
Washington Reviewed and Approved 
  • Bellevue College 
  • Big Bend Community College
  • Cascadia College
  • Centralia College
  • Clark College
  • Gonzaga University
  • Lower Columbia College
  • North Seattle College   
  • Skagit Valley College
  • South Puget Sound Community College 
  • Tacoma Community College 
  • Walla Walla Community College

Credit by Exam

Credit by Exam

Some programs award dual credit based on standardized exams. These programs include:

In these programs, students take rigorous high school courses, taught by high school teachers, at the high school. Upon completion of the course, students may take a standardized exam. Depending on how they score, they may earn college credit. Colleges award varying levels of credit based on exam scores. Students do not pay tuition, but do pay fees for the final standardized exams. Fee waivers may be available for lower-income students, if funding is available.

Students should reach out and talk with an admissions contact regarding any questions about course equivalencies and transfer. Follow the links below to determine which colleges grant credit for which exams and scores.

Dual Credit Equivalencies at Washington's Public Four-Year Colleges
Dual Credit Equivalencies at Washington's Two-Year Community and Technical Colleges

CTE Dual Credit

CTE Dual Credit

Career and technical education (CTE) classes integrate academics with technical skill development to help prepare students for advanced education and careers related to professional-technical occupations. The CTE Dual Credit program helps students transition from high school into postsecondary professional-technical programs. CTE Dual Credit is a cooperative effort between K-12 schools, community and technical colleges, and the business community to develop applied, integrated academic and technical programs. Courses are taught by high school teachers, at the high school. Students do not pay tuition.

More Dual Credit Programs

More Dual Credit Programs

Visit the program links below for information about other programs.

Bright Future Program

Seattle Vocational Institute (SVI) offers an award-winning dual-credit program—Bright Future—for 11th and 12th graders who enroll in allied health, business computers, pre-apprenticeship construction, or Cosmetology at SVI. Bright Future integrates community college-based workforce education programs with the academic program of high school juniors and seniors. In addition, it offers comprehensive case management, including academic and career advising, supporting students while they earn a high school diploma, a certificate of mastery from a community and technical college, and work experience. Finally, the program helps graduates in their transition to work, further education, or both.

Career Link

Career Link is a high school completion program at South Seattle Community College for students ages 16 to 21 who no longer attend traditional high school. The program supports personal and academic development to help students achieve their high school diploma and transition to postsecondary education. Students may earn dual credit for high school completion and college credit. Youth who enroll in the program attend full time at no cost.

Early College

The Early College program provides low-income youth, first-generation college-goers, English language learners, students of color, and other young people underrepresented in higher education the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and one to two years of college credit at the same time, tuition free. Additional resources:

Gateways for Incarcerated Youth

The Evergreen State College faculty members lead seminars at juvenile correctional facilities for college credit, at no cost to youth. Evergreen students and volunteers serve as academic mentors and coaches in the Gateways for Incarcerated Youth program.

Gateway to College

Gateway to College assists students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of school or are in danger of dropping out. Eligible students may qualify for this program to concurrently accumulate high school and college credits, earning their high school diploma while progressing toward a certificate or associate degree. 

Technical College Direct Funded Enrollment Programs

The programs linked below allow students to earn high school and college credits concurrently, while progressing toward an associate degree or certificate. Students who enroll have access to most of the training programs and support services at any of the three participating colleges:


Dual Credit Legislative Background

Washington's Launch Year Act, signed into law in 2011, requires all public high schools in Washington to work toward increasing the number of dual credit courses offered to high school students. 2015 legislation (E2SHB 1546) expanded opportunities for College in the High School, established funding models, and provided for existing funds to be used to assist Running Start students with transportation, books, and fees.

Dual Enrollment Scholarship Pilot Program

The 2019 Legislature passed House Bill 1973 establishing the Dual Enrollment Scholarship pilot program to be administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC). To implement, WSAC convened a multi-stakeholder group to design the program within the guidelines identified in the legislation with representatives from the Council of Presidents (COP), the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Eligible students must qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL), be enrolled in College in the High School (CiHS) or Running Start (RS) courses at a pilot site location, and have a minimum GPA of 2.0. For RS, grants are distributed to the participating colleges and universities, and scholarships cover course fees/lab fees and provide a textbook voucher. 

Seventeen high schools implemented the CiHS component in 2019. Three colleges implemented the RS component in 2020. The 2020 Legislature passed Senate Bill 6374, expanding the DES pilot program to cover apprenticeship materials for eligible students. Due to this expansion, the RS portion of the pilot program opened a competitive application process and selected six additional colleges to serve as pilot sites. View a map of current pilot site locations.