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Early College Programs

Early College Programs are opportunities for high school students to complete free college coursework and earn college credit before high school graduation.


CPS and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) work in partnership to offer high school juniors and seniors free college coursework through three programs.

  • Dual Credit

    Dual Credit courses enable students to receive high school and college credit for the same courses offered on-campus at schools throughout the city.


  • Dual Enrollment

    Qualified juniors and seniors can enroll in one course per semester at one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago campuses to earn college credit.


  • Jumpstart Pathways

    Jumpstart Pathways allows rising juniors and seniors to focus on building a foundation for a future career as they prepare for their postsecondary journey.



Early College benefits include the cost of tuition, textbooks, materials and laboratory fees for one Dual Enrollment course and up to four Dual Credit courses per semester. Early College students engaged in a Jumpstart Pathway can take up to two free Dual Enrollment courses per semester.

Early College students gain access to all of the City College of Chicago campus facilities, including libraries, gymnasiums and technology centers. Students can tap into both campus-based and virtual student resources, including early college advising, academic tutoring, information and technology services, student life and campus involvement, career services as well as health and wellness services. 

Early College participation benefits college admission applications, demonstrates college readiness, reduces the amount of time and money spent on college and supports students to ease into their postsecondary transition. College credits earned may be applied towards graduation at CCC as well as most public and private colleges and universities in Illinois.


All students, including those who are undocumented are eligible to participate in this program provided they meet the qualifications listed below.

  • Gain support from the student's high school counselor and guardian to participate.
  • Have junior or senior standing at a Chicago public, charter or options high school.
  • Maintain at least a 90% attendance rate and a 2.5 cumulative grade point average in high school.
  • Obtain a counselor recommendation if above listed requirements are not yet met.
  • Provide college placement scores to access coursework with prerequisites, there are courses available each semester that have no prerequisites.
  • Complete the Early College Registration process once per academic year with your high school for Dual Credit or with the Early College Office at the campus selected for Dual Enrollment.
  • Earn a “C” or better in all college coursework and avoid withdrawing from any coursework to maintain eligibility for Early College Programs.


There are many courses available for Early College students to take that have open enrollment and do not require placement scores or testing. For those who may need additional support with placement testing, CCC offers all Early College students tutoring virtually or on-campus.

For coursework with prerequisites, CCC accepts official SAT or ACT scores if they meet the college level benchmark. For students who may not yet have SAT or ACT scores or for those who may not yet meet the college benchmark scores, CCC offers students the opportunity to complete the Read to Write English and ALEKS Math placement exams either at their high school or college campus. 

Early College students seeking to complete placement testing should inquire with their high school counselor about an upcoming opportunity to test at their high school campus or contact the Early College Office at the college campus.


Early College seniors who earn at least 15 college credits through Dual Credit and/or Dual Enrollment Programs are recognized with a special cord to wear at their high school graduation at an annual Early College Celebration with CPS, CCC and the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office.