New online dual enrollment program begins this fall.

High school students throughout Delaware will be able to earn up to a full semester of college credits at no charge thanks to a new University of Delaware initiative announced Jan. 29.

The new UD Early College Credit Program will enable qualified junior and senior high school students to take up to five university courses, earning both high school and college credits.

No other program in the nation offers high school students such an opportunity that is both statewide and no-cost, a UD representative said. All 74 public, charter and private high schools in Delaware are eligible to participate.

Courses will be transmitted live from the Newark campus via interactive online streaming, giving the high school students a true college classroom experience with UD undergraduates without leaving their own schools. The program will begin this fall.

The program will help reduce the overall cost of students’ higher education, while also offering an early taste of college academics.

“This innovative program will put our great faculty into high school classrooms across the state, teaching introductory college-level material to Delaware’s motivated high school students,” UD President Dennis Assanis said. “These students will have an unparalleled opportunity to experience college-level academics, interact virtually with undergraduates on our Newark campus and earn free academic credit that will help lower the cost of their education. This program is a substantive addition to the University’s ongoing efforts to increase affordability and access to higher education for residents of the First State.”

Initial response from Delaware school officials has been enthusiastic.

Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said, “I am excited that this dual enrollment program will make college courses more accessible and affordable to Delaware high school students. This is the kind of innovative partnership between higher education and K12 schools that our students need.”

Each year, the university will offer a total of five courses in the Early College Credit Program. Students can enroll in just one course or all five over the course of their junior and senior years.

By taking all five, three-credit courses, students can complete a full semester of college study while still in high school. All courses will satisfy UD’s general education requirements, which are designed to ensure students are both broadly and deeply educated to be engaged citizens equipped with essential skills needed to thrive in the world.

Introductory courses will be offered on topics like astronomy, philosophy, art history and more. Descriptions of these courses will be available on the UD Early College Credit webpage.

High school students can enroll at no charge, and the courses are designed to use open educational resources as much as possible to eliminate or reduce the costs for textbooks and other class materials.

To participate, academically qualified juniors and seniors will need the recommendation of a high school official who will coordinate registration with UD through its Division of Professional and Continuing Studies.

For the program’s first year, a small number of Delaware high schools will be participating to ensure a successful launch and to allow the university to scale the program to meet the full demand in the state. Discussions are currently underway with several high schools to participate in this first group. Interested schools are invited to complete an online form at the UD Early College Credit webpage.

Students who successfully complete a course will have the credit and grade awarded added to their UD transcript. If students enroll at another university or college, the credits may transfer. Each institution has its own transfer policies; UD cannot guarantee another college or university will accept these transfer credits, but general education credits typically transfer when students have a grade of C or better.

Academic advisers in the university’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies ACCESS Center are available to discuss course options and answer questions. Information is also available on UD’s Professional and Continuing Studies website.

The Early College Credit Program joins other UD dual enrollment programs that are already underway at 10 high schools, reaching about 240 students each year. These existing programs may have their own requirements, fees and structures and are not part of this new initiative.