Early Postsecondary Opportunities

Tennessee students have an unprecedented opportunity for education and training beyond high school through the TN Promise. To ensure students are ready to take full advantage of the TN Promise and succeed in postsecondary, all students should have access to rigorous and relevant early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs).

EPSOs allow students to:

  • Earn postsecondary credits while in high school.
  • Become familiar with postsecondary expectations.
  • Develop confidence and skills for success in postsecondary.
  • Make informed college and career decisions.
  • Decrease the time and cost of completing a certificate or degree.

In Tennessee, EPSOs include:

  • Statewide Dual Credit
  • Local Dual Credit
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

Dual Credit

There are two types of dual credit courses in Tennessee:

  • Local dual credit: High school course aligned to a postsecondary course and taught at the high school by high school faculty for high school credit. Students are able to receive postsecondary credit by successfully completing the course and passing an assessment developed and/or recognized by the granting postsecondary institution.
  • Statewide dual credit: High school course with accompanying challenge exam created by Tennessee secondary and postsecondary faculty. Students who meet or exceed the established cut score set for the exam earn credits that can be applied to any public postsecondary institution in Tennessee.

Statewide Dual Credit Pilot

Statewide Dual Credit Challenge Exam

  • All students enrolled in a statewide dual credit course are required to take a challenge exam to determine subject mastery. If a student meets or exceeds the established cut score, he/she will earn three credits which can be applied at any public postsecondary institution in the state.
  • The challenge exams are administered online using the Tennessee Board of Regents learning platform.  The chart below provides information on each of the five exams:
Course # of Questions Type of Questions Time Allotted Cut Score
College Algebra
Multiple Choice
120 min.
Greenhouse Mgmt.
Multiple Choice
120 min.
Agribusiness Finance
Multiple Choice
120 min.
60 Multiple Choice
1 Essay
120 min.
Criminal Justice
Multiple Choice
180 min.

Dual Enrollment

A dual enrollment course is a postsecondary course, taught either at the postsecondary institution or at the high school, by the postsecondary faculty (may be credentialed adjunct faculty). Upon successful completion of the course, students are able to earn postsecondary and secondary credit simultaneously. Students in these courses are enrolled at the postsecondary institution and pay tuition and fees associated with the course.

The state does not officially approve courses for dual enrollment. LEAs or high schools partner with postsecondary institutions to determine appropriate dual enrollment course offerings for high school students. However, a list of common courses offered for dual enrollment may be helpful in determining student opportunities. Two important criteria to consider in selecting dual enrollment offerings are the TN Transfer Pathway (TTP) courses and whether the courses meet General Education (Gen. Ed.) requirements. TTP courses are easily transferred between most postsecondary institutions. Many degree programs require General Education Core Courses.

Dual Enrollment Tuition and Fees

The Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program provides grant funding for dual enrollment tuition and fees. Beginning in the 2015-16 academic year, the Dual Enrollment Grant (DEG) will be able to provide the full cost of tuition and fees for a student’s first two dual enrollment courses at a community college ($500 per course). Students will then be eligible to receive $200 toward a third course, but grant funds will not be available for the fourth course. An overview of the changes is available here.

While the structure of the grant has changed to allow more students to take advantage of dual enrollment courses, the total funding has not changed. The grant provides students up to $1,200 per year, and the total gap between the grant award and cost to take four dual enrollment courses is still $800. However, this gap cost will accumulate over two courses instead of four. For a student’s 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th dual enrollment course, grant funding will provide $300 per course.

Learn about the Dual Enrollment Grant.

Read additional information on the State Board of Education policy.

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP classes are college-level classes in multiple subjects offered by the College Board. High school students can earn college credit by passing the AP exam associated with the specific course. Read more about Advanced Placement.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP provides exams that test mastery of college-level material acquired through various means, including general academic instruction, independent study, or extracurricular work. Learn more about CLEP.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate offers an academically challenging education program with accompanying exams that enable students to earn college credit. Learn more.

Additional EPSOs

Cambridge AICE


Public Chapter 967 of the Public Acts of 2012, codified at Title 49, Chapter 15, Part 1, revised the requirements of the Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education (Consortium) in state law. Effective July 1, 2012, the Consortium is charged with increasing and expanding postsecondary opportunities for high school students. The above referenced law specifically requires the development and pilot implementation of statewide dual credit assessments that are recognized and accepted for credit by public postsecondary institutions statewide. The priorities of the Office of Postsecondary Coordination and Alignment as well as the complete, engrossed legislation can be found in our Strategic Plan.

For questions regarding early postsecondary credit opportunities, contact Early.Postsecondary@tn.gov.

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Tennessee Promise

Last Update: January 15, 2015