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Dual Enrollment: Cap on Number of Credits Students May Earn

This database indicates whether state policy sets a limit on the number of dual enrollment credits a student may earn: per semester, per school year, or during a student's high school career. Where state policy addresses the subject areas or types of courses (i.e., no upper-division) dual enrollment students may participate in or the number of dual enrollment students a district or postsecondary institution may allow, such restrictions are noted here as well.

Because state policy generally forbids dual enrollment students from enrolling in developmental courses, such prohibitions are not mentioned in this database, though exceptions to this common rule are noted here.

Why does it matter?
  • Concerns are often expressed about students taking too many dual enrollment classes without documentation that the level of rigor is equal to that of traditional postsecondary courses.
  • Some critics contend that allowing students to take too many college courses takes away from their high school experience.
  • Programs like Ohio's Seniors to Sophomores save families money, make students' senior year more meaningful, and give students a leg up on time to degree.


  • Highlights
  • Four states cap the number of dual enrollment credits high school students may earn. However, caps vary considerably, from two courses a semester to 30 semester hours per academic year.
  • Ten states explicitly allow high school students to enroll in college programs as part- or full-time students.
  • Two states specify that postsecondary institutions may determine limits on the number of dual enrollment credits students may earn.
  • In four states, state policy places a cap on the number of postsecondary credits students may earn in one program but sets no cap in the other state program.
  • One state sets a cap on the combined high school and postsecondary credits a student may take in any given semester.
  • State policy does not address this issue in 29 states.


  • 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.

    Cap on number of credits students may earn
    Alabama Not set in state policy
    Alaska Not set in state policy
    Arizona Not set in state policy. However, institutions may choose to limit the number of semester hours in which a student may enroll to not more than six credit hours.
    Arkansas Not set in state policy. Students may participate only in English, math, science and social studies courses.
    California Yes, community college no more than 11 units per semester. Cap on credit hours at California State University or University of California courses not set in state policy.
    Colorado Not set in state policy for Postsecondary Enrollment Options or Fast Track. However, the individual institution may limit the number of Postsecondary Enrollment Options students it allows to enroll. In addition, Postsecondary Enrollment Options students are reimbursed for up to two courses per semester, although districts may agree to pay for additional courses. 
    Connecticut Yes — 2 courses a semester, though seniors in their final semester may take more based on their principal's recommendation.
    Delaware Not set in state policy
    District of Columbia Not set in district policy
    Florida No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student. Two- and four-year institutions must allow students to complete at least 25% of program requirements, exclusive of transfer credit, through dual enrollment or other acceleration options.
    Georgia No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student. However, a student first enrolling in grade 11 may not take more than the equivalent of two years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 12 may not take more than the equivalent of one year's coursework. Students in the Accel program may participate only in English, math, science, social studies and foreign language courses.
    Hawaii Not set in state policy
    Idaho No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student. However, a student first enrolling in grade 11 may not take more than the equivalent of two years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 12 may not take more than the equivalent of one year's coursework.
    Illinois Not set in state policy
    Indiana No — student may enroll in Postsecondary Enrollment Program or Double Up as part- or full-time student. However, barring exceptional circumstances, students should not earn more than 15 semester hours of postsecondary credit through courses offered at high schools.
    Iowa No for Postsecondary Enrollment Options, yes for Concurrent Enrollment. However, a student enrolled on a full-time basis may not receive payment for all courses in which the student is enrolled.
    Kansas Not set in state policy for courses offered through KAN. ADMIN. REGS. 88-26-3, yes for credits earned through concurrent enrollment partnership programs — no more than 24 credits.
    Kentucky Not set in state policy
    Louisiana For TOPS Tech Early Start: Yes — 2 courses a semester.

    For Early Start: Not set in state policy. However, to continue enrollment, a student must have succesfully completed prior dual credit courses. If a student withdraws from a course, the student must receive permission from both the high school and college to continue enrollment in subsequent courses.

    For traditional dual enrollment: Determined by the postsecondary institution.
    Maine Not set in state policy. However, the department of education pays 50% of the in-state tuition for the first 3 credit hours taken each semester by a student at an eligible institution and up to 6 credit hours per academic year.
    Maryland Not set in state policy
    Massachusetts No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student.
    Michigan Both programs: Not set in state policy. However, students must be enrolled in at least one high school class. Students may enroll only in courses not offered in the student's school district, or that are offered by the district but are not available to the student due to a scheduling conflict.
    Minnesota No — students may enroll full-time or part-time at postsecondary institutions. However, students may not enroll for more than two academic years.
    Mississippi All programs: No cap to number of postsecondary credits a student may earn, provided student earns a "B" average or higher on the first two dual credit courses.
    Missouri Not set in state policy. However, students must be enrolled in at least one course at their high school for the school to be included in attendance for state aid purposes.
    Montana Not set in state policy
    Nebraska Not set in state policy
    Nevada Not set in state policy. Juniors and seniors identified as Vocational Program completers may enroll in more than 6 credits per semester "based on written, articulated occupational program agreements with designated school districts."
    New Hampshire Not set in state policy
    New Jersey Not set in state policy
    New Mexico No. A high school student may enroll in as many colleges courses as he/she wishes during a fall, spring or summer semester, provided the student's schedule is at least half comprised of public education department (PED)-approved high school courses.
    New York Not set in state policy
    North Carolina Not set in state policy. Concurrent Enrollment: However, a student must be taking at least half of a full-time schedule at his/her high school.
    North Dakota Not set in state policy. However, an institution may limit the number of courses a student may complete during any given academic term or time period.
    Ohio No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student in Post-Secondary Enrollment Options. However, a student first enrolling in Post-Secondary Enrollment Options in grade 9 may not take more than the equivalent of four years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 10 may not take more than the equivalent of three years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 11 may not take more than the equivalent of two years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 12 may not take more than the equivalent of one year's coursework.

    For Seniors to Sophomores: Student must enroll full-time on a University System of Ohio Campus.
    Oklahoma No absolute number of postsecondary credits — either per semester or during a student's high school career — but the total number of high school and college courses a student is taking in a given semester may not equal more than 19 semester credit hours. For purposes of this calculation, one semester high school course is equivalent to three postsecondary credit hours. However, students wishing to go beyond this limit may petition the institution.
    Oregon No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student. However, a student first enrolling in grade 11 may not take more than the equivalent of two years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 12 may not take more than the equivalent of one year's coursework.

    In addition, the number of quarter credit hours that may be awarded by a high school under the Expanded Options Program is limited 330 hours for high schools serving 1,000 students, or to an amount equal to the number of students in grades 9 through 12 enrolled in the high school multiplied by a factor of 0.33. For example, the cap for a high school with 450 students in grades 9 through 12 would be 148.5 (450 X 0.33 = 148.5). A district may choose to exceed these caps. If a district decides not to exceed the credit hour caps and has more students wishing to participate than are allowed under the credit hour cap, the district board must establish a process for selecting eligible students to participate in the program. A district must give priority for program participation to at-risk students.
    Pennsylvania Yes — no more than 24 postsecondary credits in any school year.
    Rhode Island Not set in state policy
    South Carolina Not set in state policy. "The number of college-level courses completed in these dual enrollment offerings will vary according to the student's ability and work ethic."
    South Dakota No, although policies do establish limits to the number of hours that will apply toward a specific degree program. In addition, if a student fails a postsecondary course, the student is not eligible to enroll in additional courses through the dual enrollment program.
    Tennessee Not set in state policy
    Texas Yes — 2 courses a semester. Exceptions may be made by the principal and postsecondary partner's chief academic officer for students with outstanding academic performance and capability, as demonstrated by grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, or other criteria.
    Utah Yes. State reimbursement to districts may not exceed 30 semester hours per student per year.

    Funding is provided only for participation in 1000- and 2000-level courses, unless an exception is approved by the student's counselor and district concurrent enrollment administrator. Concurrent enrollment courses are limited to English, math, science, social science, humanities, fine arts, world languages and career/technical programs.
    Vermont Not set in state policy. However, the VSC Dual Enrollment Program voucher covers tuition costs for no more than two college courses.
    Virginia Not set in state policy
    Washington No — student may enroll as part- or full-time student. However, a student first enrolling in grade 11 may not take more than the equivalent of two years' coursework; a student first enrolling in grade 12 may not take more than the equivalent of one year's coursework.

    A district and postsecondary representative may jointly limit a student's concurrent high school and postsecondary enrollment to not less than the equivalent of full-time enrollment for academic reasons. The "equivalent of full-time enrollment" might mean for example, one-third FTE enrollment in regular high school courses and two-thirds FTE enrollment in college courses.
    West Virginia Not set in state policy. Students may participate only in lower-division courses.
    Wisconsin Not set in state policy. However, a local board may limit the number of credits for which it will pay to 18 college credit hours per student.
    Notes/Citation: One college credit is equal to .25 high school credits; so a 3 credit college course is equal to .75 high school credits.
    Wyoming Not set in state policy


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