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Dual Enrollment vs Advanced Placement

Every state and most school districts are exploring ways to raise standards and ensure that all students take challenging courses that prepare them for success in college and in their careers. One way of delivering rigor is through providing college level courses to high school students, for many school districts this is accomplished by offering Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses.


The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program is recognized as a powerful tool for increasing academic rigor, improving teacher quality and creating a culture of excellence in high schools. NMSI’s College Readiness Program (CRP) partners with schools to increase the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on AP® math, science and English exams, while expanding access to rigorous coursework to traditionally underrepresented students.

  • AP courses provide In-depth, consistent coursework, they give students the opportunity to challenge themselves with college-level work, while providing coursework that is consistent nation-wide. As students dig deeper into subjects they love, they also build confidence and learn the time management and study skills essential to success in college and career.

  • Students who take AP courses stand out in the college admissions process. Not only are they better prepared for undergraduate success, they have demonstrated the drive to challenge themselves with the most rigorous classes available.

  • By taking AP courses and scoring successfully on AP exams, students can save a substantial amount on college tuition: over 2,600 colleges and universities worldwide offer college credit for qualifying AP exam scores. Moreover, research shows that students who take AP are far more likely than their peers to complete a college degree on time.

  • AP courses help students develop the foundational knowledge and essential skills to be successful in college. Once in college, research has found that students who master AP courses perform better and are three times more likely to graduate from college. African-American and Hispanic students who succeed in AP courses are four times more likely to graduate from college.

  • NMSI’s CRP gives students the tools they need for AP success. While their teachers receive high-quality resources and mentoring from national experts, students benefit from extra study sessions, exam fee subsidies, awards and more. CRP partner schools increase the number of qualifying scores on AP exams by ten times the national average after just one year.


Dual enrollment programs—including courses offered to high school students at two-year and four-year colleges, either on the college campus or in high school—provide valuable opportunities for students to experience academic rigor.

  • Research has proven that Dual enrollment students have a higher likelihood of enrolling in a 4-year school, a smaller decline in grades from high school to college and a higher likelihood of persisting to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree.

  • Full-time dual enrollment can be ideal for students who have enough credits to graduate but still want four years to prepare for college applications, it also allows students to explore different subjects they may be interested in and relate to careers they may want to pursue.

  • Dual Enrollment students are more likely to enter college within seven months of high school graduation.

  • Dual enrollment credit may only be granted at the college that administers the course, and in some cases, students who then transfer to a four-year institution are required to re-take the course.


Why take AP or Dual Enrollment?

  • Both programs expose students to college level work and allow students to earn college credits while in high school. Research has shown that students who take either dual enrollment or AP classes are more likely than those who don’t, to earn a Bachelor degree in four years or less.

Does NMSI also support Dual Enrollment?

  • No. NMSI’s College Readiness Program (CRP) partners with schools to increase the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on AP® math, science and English exams, while expanding access to rigorous coursework to traditionally underrepresented students.

Can I transfer my AP/Dual Enrollment course credits to college?

  • Yes. Qualifying scores (3 or higher) on AP exams are accepted at most 4 year colleges throughout the US. Dual Enrollment acceptance varies on a case-by-case basis, in certain states dual enrollment is automatically accepted at all public two- and four-year colleges, however acceptance varies at private schools, students may have to take a placement test to test out of the course.

How do I know how much credit I’ll get?

  • Credits earned through AP and Dual Enrollment largely depends on the college and the class you take. In order to have the option to earn the credit through AP, you must earn a score of three or higher on the AP exam. Most colleges in the US accept AP test scores, however some will encourage you to retake the class, despite earning a qualifying score. Dual Enrollment credits depend on the number of credit hours the class is worth, this can often vary from school to school, so be sure to talk to your counselor.

What kind of grades do I need to take Dual Enrollment or AP classes?

  • NMSI encourages all students, regardless of their academic background, to challenge themselves, and enroll in rigorous classes. If you are interested in taking AP or Dual Enrollment classes, consult with a teacher or your counselor as to which option may be best for you.  

If I’m in Dual Enrollment, can I take an AP test?

  • Yes, You may be able to take the AP Exam you want by arranging to test at your school, or if your school doesn’t offer AP, at a participating school.