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Dual Enrollment Programs
Transition to College

Dual enrollment programs were found to have positive effects on students’ degree attainment (college), college access and enrollment, credit accumulation, completing high school, and general academic achievement (high school), with a medium to large extent of evidence. For the staying in high school, college readiness, and attendance (high school) domains, dual enrollment programs had potentially positive effects with a small extent of evidence. Dual enrollment programs were found to have no discernible effects on general academic achievement (college) with a small extent of evidence.
Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take college courses and earn college credits while still attending high school. Such programs, also referred to as dual credit or early college programs, are designed to boost college access and degree attainment, especially for students typically underrepresented in higher education. Dual enrollment programs support college credit accumulation and degree attainment via at least three mechanisms. First, allowing high school students to experience college-level courses helps them prepare for the social and academic requirements of college while having the additional supports available to high school students; this may reduce the need for developmental coursework. Second, students who accumulate college credits early and consistently are more likely to attain a college degree. Third, many dual enrollment programs offer discounted or free tuition, which reduces the overall cost of college and may increase the number of low socioeconomic status students who can attend and complete college.


studies that met standards out of
eligible studies reviewed
Effectiveness Rating Grades Evidence Tier
Access and enrollment Positive effects 9-12
Attainment Positive effects 9-12
Attendance (high school) Potentially positive effects 9-12
College Readiness Potentially positive effects 9-12
Completing school Positive effects 9-12
Credit accumulation Positive effects 9-12
General academic achievement (college) No discernible effects 9-12
General academic achievement (high school) Positive effects 9-12
Staying in School Potentially positive effects 9-12

Last Updated: February 2017


Other or unknown


Not Hispanic or Latino


Male: 44%
Female: 56%

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Note: This summary only includes data from studies that reported sample information. The Intervention Report may include evidence from other studies that met standards, but did not report sample information.

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This intervention report was prepared for the WWC by Development Services Group, Inc. under contract ED–IES–12–C–0084.

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