Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) provides high school students with multiple opportunities to take rigorous, college-level classes through both the Advanced Placement program and the state’s Dual Enrollment program. While both of these programs offer students college-level coursework, understanding the differences in the programs is important when selecting the courses that will best help students reach their future college and career goals.
The Advanced Placement (AP) program allows students to take college-level coursework at students’ high school during the regular school day. GCPS offers a wide range of AP courses, and the courses are taught by specially trained high school teachers who provide the equivalent of first-year college coursework. Optional subject-specific exams are offered at the end of the school year, and these exams are graded by College Board. Students who score a 3 or better (on a 5-point scale) on these exams may earn college credit or be exempt from certain classes. The cost to take each exam is approximately $89. Budget permitting, GCPS covers the cost of one AP exam for each of the county’s AP students. (Students are required to pay a nominal registration fee). Students who choose to take additional AP exams are responsible for exam fees. Students with documented need may qualify for financial assistance to cover exam fees. Because some colleges do not honor AP credit, students should check with their chosen colleges to determine their individual AP credit policies. For further information on Advanced Placement, please visit https://apstudent.collegeboard.org.
Dual Enrollment (DE) is a dual-credit program that allows high school students in grades 9-12 the option of pursuing college credit through approved colleges and universities-- either as a full- or part-time college student. Students who successfully complete an approved academic course from the state’s DE course list earn both high school and college credits. Students must apply and be accepted to a participating eligible postsecondary institution. College approved courses taken must count toward high school graduation requirements. The program pays for college tuition, books, and mandatory fees. Credit hours paid by DE do not count toward the limit of hours paid for by the HOPE Scholarship or HOPE Grant programs. For further information on DE, please visit https://www.gafutures.org.
Students should consider the admission requirements at the colleges they are interested in attending for specific guidance in terms of which college-credit option is the best for their individual goals. Parents and students with additional questions should contact their local high school counselors.