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Columbia MD, 21044
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Early Entrance Program

early entrance high school students

Get a jump-start on college! Early Entrance is designed for high-achieving students who want to get ahead, and save money, while taking on a new challenge. Whether you want to earn just a few college credits, or graduate high school with as many as 30 credits towards an associate degree, there are several Early Entrance options to choose from. Explore more below, and speak to your high school guidance counselor for more information.

Which Early Entrance Program is Right for You?

Early Entrance

11th - 12th Grade Students

Students in 11th and 12th grade can enroll in up to two courses per semester to begin earning credit toward a college degree. In some instances these courses can be used to meet high school graduation requirements as well. Flexible scheduling allows students to fit college courses around a busy schedule. In special circumstances 12th grade students could be allowed to enroll in more than two courses by qualifying for the early admission option below.

8th - 10th Grade Students

For 8th to 10th grade students, admission to HCC will be considered on an individual basis. If you are enrolled in gifted and talented programs or can otherwise demonstrate outstanding ability, these will increase your chances of acceptance. View the "Steps to Apply" below for detailed instructions.

Early Admission

Through the Early Admission Option, high school seniors can get a jump start on earning college credits - and complete high school graduation requirements - by attending Howard Community College full time. Students are generally required to complete 24-30 credits of college coursework, including at least one college-level English composition course. Consent from high school officials is required to participate in this option. View the "Steps to Apply" below to start your journey!

Early College

A partnership between the Howard County Public School System and Howard Community College, Early College students earn 30 college credits by the time they graduate from high school. They will need only one year full time at HCC to finish the final 30 credits necessary to earn their associate degree. Learn more at the Early College page.

Site-based Dual Credit

Talk to your high school advisor about site-based dual credit. This program allows you to earn college credit through HCC, without having to visit HCC campus. Stay at your high school and earn college credit!


STARTALK is an intensive summer language program that allows students to learn about various languages in an immersive environment. Learn more at the STARTALK page.

  • Steps to Apply
    1. Complete and submit our online application here. Answer "yes" to the questions about being a current high school student and taking courses in high school. Your application fee is waived.
    2. Have your parent and high school counselor fill out the Early Entrance Signature Form to complete the admissions process.
    3. Follow the standard dates and deadlines for the term in which you seek to enroll. Complete your process early to have the best possible courses and schedule.
    4. Meet the prerequisites (academic requirement) for the courses. You may also be required to take HCC's placement exam.
    5. Remember, Early Entrance students are limited to two courses each semester. Seniors may be permitted to enroll in classes during the school day as part of an early release option.
    6. Read and follow the additional steps below, depending on your grade level in school.

    11-12 Grade Students

    1. Contact your high school guidance office or other appropriate office for instructions and consent to participate in this program. Schools generally require students to apply for the Early Admission Option during the junior year.
    2. Work with your high school guidance office or other appropriate high school office to discover the specific courses you need to fulfill high school graduation requirements.
    3. Complete and submit the Early Entrance Signature Form
    4. Meet with an Admissions Advisor during walk-in office hours or by contacting the Office of Admissions and Advising at or 443-518-4599.

    8-10 Grade Students

    1. Meet with an admissions counselor for a pre-admission interview. At least one parent or guardian must be in attendance. Make an appointment by contacting the Office of Admissions and Advising at or 443-518-4599.
    2. Show documentation of outstanding abilities and maturity, in accordance with state law, including such items as test scores, recommendations, portfolios, and awards.
  • Tuition Benefit

    High school students who are residents of Howard County and enroll at Howard Community College while still in high school are eligible for a 50 percent discount on tuition. This benefit applies to credit classes at HCC during the fall, winter, and spring semesters. Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), private school, and home school students are eligible.

    Howard County Public School System students who wish to receive high school credit for HCC courses must enroll in an approved Howard Community College course or courses and meet the criteria specified by HCPSS. Students must obtain this approval from HCPSS. HCPSS students who enroll in a fall or winter/spring course at HCC are eligible for the discount. HCPSS  pays the tuition balance for students who receive Free and Reduced Meals (FARM). FARM information is confidential and only shared with appropriate HCC and HCPSS staff at the time of approval.

    All students pay the full consolidated and course fees. Additional resources for fees and books may be available for students with financial need. Tuition and fees may be adjusted annually to reflect changes in HCC’s tuition and fee rates.

  • Additional Information
    • Note: The award of high school credit for college coursework is arranged through your school and does not involve the college.
    • Howard Community College reserves the right to grant admission to secondary school students on an individual basis. Social and emotional maturity are taken into consideration
    • Financial aid and scholarships are not available for Early Entrance students.
    • Policies regarding students records policies and confidentiality are available in the college’s catalog and should be reviewed.


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