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Information for Students and Families

What is the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program (CDEP)?
What are the benefits of CDEP?
Who is eligible to participate?
What courses are available?
Are the courses guaranteed to transfer when I enroll in college after high school?
Where are courses offered?
How many courses may I take?
What credits will I earn for the courses I complete successfully?
What charges are covered through CDEP?
I am interested in participating. How can I get more information?

What is the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program?

The Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program (CDEP) provides opportunities for high school students to take college-level courses free of charge* and simultaneously earn credit toward high school completion as well as their future college degrees through a discretionary state grant program.

* Some institutions may charge a nominal admission fee (for example, $25), which may be waived.

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What are the benefits of CDEP?

CDEP allows students the opportunity to enter their college careers already having earned college credit. This helps with the transition to college, allows student to get a head start on their college degrees, saving them time and money, and provides meaningful and challenging academic experiences.

If you apply for admission at one of the state’s public colleges or universities, grades received in courses as part of CDEP receive additional weight in your high school GPA. The additional weight will be the same as that given for grades earned in Advanced Placement courses for the purpose of calculating the high school GPA. See the Department of Higher Education's Admissions Standards Guidebook (.PDF) for more information on calculating the high school GPA.

Students who participate in CDEP are required to receive high school and college credit for the courses they successfully complete.

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Who is eligible to participate?

To be eligible to participate, students must:

  • Be Massachusetts residents.
  • Be enrolled in grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 in a Massachusetts public secondary school or non-public school, including home school.
  • Meet all course prerequisites as required by the participating college or university campus. (Prerequisites are courses that a student must complete before taking a more advanced course in the subject area. For example, before you can take Calculus, you may have to take Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry. A course prerequisite could also include taking a college-level placement exam.)
  • Have a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or demonstrate their potential for academic success through submission of evidence of steadily improving high school grades, high class rank, special talent, strong grades in the field of the CDEP course, strong recommendations, etc.
  • Not have earned a high school diploma or GED.

Although not a requirement for participation, colleges and universities are required to focus efforts on enrolling qualified students with particular emphasis on first-generation college students and students who are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Students who meet eligibility guidelines are not guaranteed participation. Participation is at the discretion of the participating institution of higher education, subject to capacity constraints and state appropriation.

A student with a high school diploma is not eligible to participate. This includes students who graduate in the spring of a given year and wish to enroll in a CDEP course held in the summer or any subsequent term.

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What courses are available?

Participating students may enroll in credit-bearing, college-level courses that:

  • Are listed in the participating institution's course catalog;
  • Count for no less than three college credits;
  • Are taught by college faculty;
  • Qualify under the MassTransfer Block, which includes the disciplines of behavioral and social sciences, humanities and fine arts, natural or physical science, English composition/writing, and mathematics/quantitative reasoning; or are within the disciplines of computer science, technology, or engineering; and
  • Take place on campus, online, or at a high school.

Ineligible courses include:

  • Remedial/developmental courses (including ESL).
  • Non-credit courses.
  • Physical education, fitness, or recreation courses.
  • First-year orientation.
  • Courses that count for less than three college credits.

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Are the courses guaranteed to transfer when I enroll in college after high school?

CDEP courses are limited to those that would qualify under the MassTransfer Block. These are generally first- and second-year college courses that institutions regard as highly transferable. These courses are not guaranteed to transfer, however. Students should contact the college or university in which they plan to enroll after high school to inquire about their transfer policy.

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Where are courses offered?

Course are offered by the majority of Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and undergraduate University of Massachusetts campuses. Courses may be taught on the campuses of those institutions, on a high school campus, or online. Courses that are offered at the high school are called "contract courses" and are arranged through an agreement between the high school and the institution of higher education.

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How many courses may I take?

Students may enroll in one or more courses per the discretion of the participating institution of higher education. Because college and universities are required to expand dual enrollment opportunities to as many students as possible, you may be limited to the number of courses you may take.

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What credits will I earn for the courses I complete successfully?

Students must receive college and high school credit, documented on their college and high school transcripts, for the courses that they successfully complete. Students may be asked to collect signatures of college and high school administrators for this purpose.

The high school may count the CDEP course either as an elective or a required course. Participating higher education institutions and high schools are responsible for establishing written agreements that ensure that high school students receive credit from both the college and high school for courses completed as part of CDEP. Although not a requirement, the Department of Higher Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education suggest grades earned from CDEP courses are configured into the high school GPA and weighted the same as Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

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What charges are covered through CDEP?

Students do not pay tuition or fees for courses taken through CDEP. However, some institutions may charge a nominal admission fee (for example, $25), which may be waived. Student who demonstrate financial need may also receive additional assistance for books, supplies, and transportation. For more information, contact the CDEP coordinator at the participating institution of higher education.

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I am interested in participating. How can I get more information?

Check with your high school guidance counselor to find out if a contract course is offered at your high school and/or how you can enroll in a course offered on a higher education campus or online.

Interested students and families are also encouraged to coordinate with the CDEP coordinator at their public higher education institution of interest (PDF map) to arrange for student enrollment in courses offered on the college campus or online. Arrangements must be made prior to the start of a new term, and interested parties are encouraged to start the process as early as possible.

CDEP is just one of many different dual enrollment and early college programs and initiatives offered at Massachusetts' public colleges and universities. To avoid confusion when contacting a higher education institution about it, please refer to the program by its specific name: "Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program" or "CDEP."

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