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Early Postsecondary Opportunities :

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Policies

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges


The Tennessee Board of Regents will provide K-12 students with opportunities to earn postsecondary credit to accelerate their progress toward a technical certificate /diploma or associates degree.


  • Early Postsecondary Opportunities is the broad term for various types of opportunities for high school students to take college coursework while they are enrolled in high school or enrolled at both the high school and postsecondary institution concurrently.
  • Dual Enrollment: The enrollment of a high school student in one or more specified college course(s) for which the student is eligible to earn high school credit and college credit at the high school, postsecondary institution, or online. The course/program is taught by instructors with appropriate postsecondary credentials approved by the postsecondary institution awarding the college credit. Dual Enrollment delivery models include the following:
    • Early college: The enrollment of a high school student in a combined curriculum/courses of high school and postsecondary credit where the student is expected to earn a high school diploma as well as a postsecondary credential or enter a four-year postsecondary program as a junior. The courses/programs are taught by instructors with appropriate postsecondary credentials approved by the institution awarding the credit.
    • Middle college: The enrollment of a high school student in a college program of study offered by an eligible community or technical college in partnership with the local education agency that permits the student to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree/technical college certificate or diploma upon high school graduation. The courses/programs are taught by a qualified postsecondary faculty member, or by a qualified high school teacher serving as an adjunct faculty member for the postsecondary institution offering the course/program.
  • Other Models for Awarding of College Credit
    • Advanced Placement (AP): A college-level course designed by the College Board and taught by high school faculty. Postsecondary institutions may award credit based on the score earned on a national exam in several subjects.
    • Cambridge International Examinations (CIE): A high school academic program (curricula, assessments, pedagogy) with internationally recognized exams.
    • College Level Examination Program (CLEP): Nationally recognized exams used to assess college-level knowledge. The exams are offered in multiple subjects.
    • International Baccalaureate (IB): An academically challenging course of study offered at the high school level aligned to internationally benchmarked exams.
    • Local Dual Credit: High school course aligned to a local postsecondary institution’s course and exam. Students who pass the exam earn credits that are accepted and/or recognized by the local postsecondary institution upon matriculation to the institution.
    • Statewide Dual Credit: Taught by high school faculty, a high school course aligned to standards set by a statewide consortium of college faculty with a required exam to earn credit upon matriculation to any Tennessee public postsecondary institution.
    • Industry Certification: Certifications earned through secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs and courses. As it pertains to industry certifications, all TN Department of Education promoted certifications are aligned with postsecondary and employment opportunities and with the competencies and skills that students should have acquired through their chosen programs of study.


  1. Policy Provisions
    1. TBR requires that all community and technical colleges entering into a partnership with an LEA or a high school, which can result in the award of college credit, must ensure that the credit awarded is at the postsecondary level and meets all requirements of TBR policies and procedures as well as all requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges(SACSCOC) for community colleges or the Council on Occupational Education (COE) for technical colleges.
    2. The colleges granting the academic credit must assume full responsibility for the academic quality and integrity of such partnerships.
    3. Frequently Asked Question are addressed in Exhibit 1.


  1. Early Postsecondary Credit Opportunities Procedures
    1. Dual credit and dual enrollment agreements should be developed in compliance with TBR Contracts Guideline G-30. See exhibits for TBR approved agreement templates.
    2. As per TBR Policy “Approvals of Agreements and Contracts”:
      1. All agreements and contracts affecting Community Colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology must be approved and executed by the President or the President’s designee. The following agreements, contracts or procurements, in addition to being approved as set out above, shall be submitted to the System Office for approval by the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee;
      2. Agreements may include any agreement between a TBR institution and any other institution, agency, organization, or entity; which provides for the coordinated orcooperative offering of any credit or non-credit programs; activities in which certificate or degree requirements are met; credit is given for coursework; or, activities offered by another institution.
        1. Examples of such agreements include provisions for either credit or non-credit academic programs or public service activities to private or state agencies and institutions in the fulfillment of that agency' s responsibility for state-wide services or governmental training, and
        2. Agreements which require consortia or cooperative arrangements with other institutions, agencies, or associations.
  2. Procedures for Awarding Credit
    1. Dual Enrollment Course Credit
      1. The community college admits and registers dual enrolled students as non-degree seeking students of the college and records courses administered through a dual enrollment on official college transcripts. Dual enrolled students at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology may register as a dual enrollment status student in a specific program based on the program's specific requirements as determined by the campus. 
      2. If the student enrolled in high school courses meets the requirements for an associate degree/technical college certificate or diploma while still in high school, institutions may confer the earned postsecondary credential even if the student is technically non-degree seeking, and even if the TBR institution’s graduation date precedes the student’s high school graduation date.
      3. Although the associate degree or technical certificate/diploma may be conferred slightly before high school graduation due to differences between scheduled college and high school ceremonies, the TBR institution must receive a final high school transcript documenting the student’s high school graduation before posting the degree to the student’s transcript.
        1. Dual enrolled students are assessed using the same methods (e.g. papers, portfolios, quizzes, labs, etc.) as regularly enrolled students.
        2. The college ensures that dual enrolled students are held to the same grading standards as those expected of regularly enrolled students.
    2. Credit by Exam
      1. Unlike dual enrollment courses, credit by exam credit is not awarded automatically upon completion of the exam. After students graduate, they submit their test scores (in a pre-approved format: secure database, electronically from the high school, etc.) to the college where they have been admitted and request college credit, advanced standing, or the waiving of the requirement for the equivalent course.
      2. Institutions may charge an exam fee following TBR Guideline B-60.
      3. Types of College-Credit Examinations:
        1. Advanced Placement (AP): At the end of the course, the student takes a national examination administered by the College Board.
          1. If the student achieves a score pre-determined by the college, he or she may: (a) receive college credit for the course; (b) be granted advanced standing by the college; or (c) be allowed to waive the requirement for that course.
        2. Cambridge International Examinations: Cambridge qualifications are recognized for matriculation purposes and may be eligible for credit by examination. Students must contact their college for further details.
        3. International Baccalaureate: The IB Baccalaureate requires periodic assessments of knowledge and proficiencies within the discipline, as well as final written examinations to earn the IB Diploma at the end of the program.
          1. Based on their scores on the periodic assessments students may; (a) receive college credit for the equivalent course; (b) be granted advanced standing by the college; or (c) have the requirement for that course waived by the college.
          2. Based on their scores on the IB Diploma, students may: (a) be awarded an associate degree by the receiving college; or, (b) be admitted with junior standing by the receiving college.
        4. Local Dual Credit: Postsecondary course credit is solely based upon a course exam or portfolio development, “Credit by Assessment.”
          1. The course exam and the identified exam score are created and agreed upon by the content faculty from the local postsecondary institution.
          2. The course credit may only be accepted by the local postsecondary institution.
          3. A high school class may be associated with such a postsecondary course.
        5. Statewide Dual Credit: The postsecondary course credit is solely based upon the score of the final course exam, “Credit by Assessment.”
          1. The final course exam and the identified exam score are created and agreed upon by content faculty representatives from Tennessee community colleges, Tennessee public universities, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and the University of Tennessee. (T.C.A. § 49-15-101 et seq.)
        6. Industry Certification: A credential based upon a third party (business/industry recognized) exam which results in a certification beneficial to the particular industry.
          1. Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) colleges collaborate with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and business and industry to identify appropriate certifications and work toward postsecondary credit based upon such certifications.
          2. The TDOE may pay for secondary students to take certification exams. Typically, colleges receive the results from certification exams from the TDOE or from the exam testing company.
      4. In accordance with TBR Policy “Awarding of Credits Earned through Extra-Institutional Learning to Community Colleges,” the decision to grant college credit, advanced standing, or requirement waiver for an Advanced Placement, College Level Examination Program, Cambridge International Examination or International Baccalaureate score is the prerogative of the college. If an institution agrees to accept AP and/or CLEP scores, it should adhere to the Advanced Placement and College Level Examination Program credit matrices developed by a multi-campus faculty committee and approved by the Academic Affairs Sub-Council in June 2012 (see exhibit 6 and 7 below).
      5. If a college affiliated with the Tennessee Board of Regents accepts an Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Cambridge International Exam score for college credit, the college transcript course will list the college course, with the grade P and the indication AP for (NTAxxx) Advanced Placement, IB for (NTBxxx) International Baccalaureate, Local Dual Credit (NTDxxx), Statewide Dual Credit (N09xxx), Student Industry Certification (possibly NTRxxx, but possibly more than 1 value applies).
      6. College credit awarded for AP, IB, CIE or dual credit coures are not included in the campus’s FTE calculations.
      7. All institutions affiliated with the Tennessee Board of Regents System will publish their policies and practices for awarding credit/advancing standing/waiver for AP, IB, and CIE programs.
  3. Faculty Credentials
    1. In accordance with T.C.A. § 49-15-101 et seq. “Cooperative Innovative High School Programs”:
      1. The appropriate college full-time faculty and the Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee of the offering institution shall assure that any faculty member teaching in dual enrollment offerings meets all relevant SACS-COC and COE criteria.
      2. Orientation and evaluation of teaching for dual enrollment/dual credit faculty rests with the appropriate academic department of the respective college. The Chief Academic Officer, or his/her designee, shall assure consistency and comparability of both orientation and evaluation across institutions.
      3. Dual enrollment instructors must participate in relevant professional development and evaluation activities that are expected of all faculty.
  4. Student Eligibility to Enroll as Secondary Student in Postsecondary Institutions
    1. In addition to any enrollment requirements outlined by the Tennessee Department of Education, students enrolling at TBR institutions must meet the following criteria:
      1. The student must be enrolled in a Tennessee public school as defined in T.C.A.§ 49-6-3001, a nonpublic school as defined in T.C.A. § 49-50-801, a home school as defined in T.C.A. § 49-6-3050, or a private school as defined in T.C.A. § 49-6-3001. 
      2. For dual enrolled students at a community college, the student may register as a non-degree seeking student in a specific course based on the course's specific placement requirements as determined by the campus in accordance with TBR Guideline A-100.  Dual enrolled students at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology may register as a dual enrollment status student in a specific program based on the program's  specific requirements as determined by the campus. 
      3. The student must provide secondary institution permission/approval. Additionally, a minor (under 18 years of age) must provide parental/guardian permission/approval.
      4. All Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology shall admit applicants on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. Applicants enrolled in high school are eligible for admission provided that an agreement authorizing such admission is concluded between the local Board of Education and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Such agreements are subject to the approval of the Chancellor or his designee.
  5. Academic and Student Services
    1. Counseling and advising of prospective students by appropriate college officials, high school counselors, teachers, and parents will be an integral part of all dual enrollment programs. Advising materials must state that as a college course, the dual enrollment course becomes part of the permanent college transcript that must be provided by the student to any college he or she eventually attends.
    2. Student services in both the high school and the college settings will ensure that dual enrollment students have access to academic resources (e.g., library materials) and student services (e.g., orientation, advising, procedural information) that are important to the class and available to regularly enrolled students taking the same course.
    3. To avoid displacing postsecondary students in the college courses, institutions may create specific sections and hold them for dual enrollment students.
    4. Dual enrollment students will have access to the same privileges and opportunities available to regularly enrolled students taking the same course or courses.
    5. Administrators, faculty, and staff in both high school and college settings providing dual enrollment opportunities will comply with all FERPA and ADA guidelines.




T.C.A. § 49-15-101 et seq.; T.C.A. § 49-6-3111; Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as amended (FERPA), 20 USC 1232G; Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ch. 126 § 12101 et seq.

Approvals & Revisions

New policy and procedure approved at Board Meeting, March 29, 2018; Revision approved at December 9, 2021 Board Meeting; October 18, 2022 Updated Exhibit 4, Exhibit 5, Exhibit 6 and Exhibit 7.