College Credit for High School Students
There are a number of ways high school students can earn college credit while still in high school. Review the options and programs below, then talk with your school counselor about which opportunities are a best fit.
College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program
Advanced Placement courses are college-level classes that are offered by many U.S. high schools in a wide variety of subjects. Students who take an AP exam, earn a score of 3, 4 or 5, and enroll at a UW System institution will be awarded college credit. AP courses and exam scores are reviewed by UW faculty to determine the equivalent course or elective credit and the number of credits based on the score earned on each exam. Find the AP credit policies for each UW institution on the UW HELP website.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Program
International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization coursework is offered in authorized schools all over the world. In addition to coursework, an International Baccalaureate Diploma can be earned at the secondary level. Students who take an IB exam, earn a score of 4, 5, 6, or 7 on Higher Level (HL) exams, and enroll at a UW System institution will be awarded college credit. IB courses and exam scores are reviewed by UW faculty to determine the equivalent course or elective credit and the number of credits based on the score earned on each exam. Additional credit can be earned by students who complete the full diploma program. Find the IB credit policies for each UW institution on the UW HELP website.
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams are offered in many authorized testing centers across the US. These tests assess college-level knowledge in 36 subject areas. Find the CLEP credit policies at each UW institution.
Qualified high schools students can enroll to take courses at a UW institution while still in high school. Courses may be offered online, at a UW campus, or at your high school. Enrolling to take a UW course means you are concurrently enrolled as a high school student in your school district and as a university special student at a UW institution.
There are different ways you can enroll to take UW coursework while in high school. Eligibility and the amount of tuition your family will pay will be different for each option. Click on a program option below to learn more about available programs. Or, for information regarding how to enroll, visit UW HELP.
The Youth Options program is a State of Wisconsin program that enables academically talented public school 11th and 12th grade students to enroll at a Wisconsin institution of higher education for the purpose of taking college courses for both high school and college credit. College/university courses, in which the student hopes to enroll through Youth Options, cannot be comparable to a course already offered in the high school and the course must qualify for high school credit. Tuition, fees, and book costs are paid by the school district. In order to enroll in the Youth Options Program, students must seek approval from their school board no later than March 1 for the fall semester or October 1 for the spring semester. There is no opportunity for summer session enrollment. Students must also apply to, and meet admission guidelines, at the campus at which they plan to take the course. In addition to your school counselor, Youth Options campus contacts can help answer your questions.
The Course Options Program is a State of Wisconsin program that enables public school students to take up to two courses per term at a non-resident school, a charter school, an approved non-profit Wisconsin institution of higher education, a University of Wisconsin System institution, a Wisconsin Technical College System district, a tribal college, or a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) approved nonprofit organization. Students must be approved for Course Options by the school district in which they reside and admitted to the university if seeking to take coursework. In addition to your school counselor, Course Options campus contacts can help answer your questions.
Directly with the University
UW System institutions enroll academically talented 11th and 12th grade students for the purpose of taking university coursework and earning college credit while still in high school. Students apply directly to the university, not through the Department of Public Instruction or school district. Students must meet university special student admissions guidelines, pay the same tuition, fees, and textbook costs as other undergraduates, and are not eligible for financial aid. UW campus contacts can help with questions and enrollment procedures.
University of Wisconsin Extension Independent Learning
In addition to on-campus coursework and campus-based online coursework, high school students may also want to consider online and print- based coursework offered through University of Wisconsin Extension Independent Learning.
When you successfully complete a college course while in high school, your credits may transfer to a UW institution.
Earning Credit – Important Points
Here are some important points to remember if you plan to attend a UW institution after you graduate from high school:
- The courses you take and the grades you earn will be recorded on a university transcript and become part of your official college record.
- When you complete your college application(s) as a prospective new freshman, you will include your college enrollment on the application and provide a copy of the official transcript in the admissions process.
- If you attend the same UW institution at which you enrolled while a high school student, the courses will remain part of your academic record and can be applied to your degree requirements.
Transferring UW Credit to Another UW
If you plan to complete UW courses while in high school, but plan to apply for admission to a different UW institution, your UW transcript will be reviewed in the admission process. You may receive transfer credits for the course(s) you successfully completed.
Before you register to take UW courses in high school, it is important to understand if and how your courses will transfer.
- Find out how the courses you take at one UW campus will transfer to another UW campus using the Transfer Wisconsin Credit Transfer Course Wizard.
The Credit Transfer Course Wizard report you receive is guaranteed for courses that you take in the current or next semester. Print or save a copy of the transfer report for your records.
Transferring Credit from Outside the UW System
The Wisconsin Technical College System and other colleges and universities also offer college courses in high school. If you take a college course from a college/university outside of the UW System and you plan to attend a UW institution after high school, here are some points to remember.
- Make sure that you are taking the course as part of a concurrent enrollment program. If you are concurrently enrolled, you will receive a grade for the college course, and an official college transcript/record documenting the course and grade you received will be created.
- When you complete your UW application(s) as a prospective new freshman, you will include information about your college enrollment on the application and provide a copy of the official transcript in the admissions process.
- The UW institution(s) will review your transcript and you may receive transfer credit for the course(s) you successfully completed.
- Before you register to take a course at Wisconsin Technical College, you can find out if and how the courses you take at a college will transfer to another Wisconsin Technical College or UW campus by using the Transfer Wisconsin Credit Transfer Course Wizard.
The credit transfer course wizard report you receive is guaranteed for courses that you take in the current or next semester. Print or save a copy of the report for your records.
Still Have Questions About How Your Credits Transfer?
If you’ve checked the Credit Transfer Wizards, and you still have questions about how your college credits taken in high school may transfer, a UW Transfer Contact at the campus you plan to enroll at can help.
Planning For College
It’s never too early to start planning for college! Middle school students who begin early can get ahead of the plan! High school students can review information to make sure they are on track for college admission and success in college. Check out UW HELP for precollege programs and review Planning for College in English or Spanish.
Choose your high school standing to browse college planning tips from UW HELP.