May 12, 2021

Why Dual Credit courses are important for international students studying at US high schools

Dual credit courses are important for international students. Even if they are not eligible to enroll their first year, students must create a solid course trajectory from the start, allowing them to enroll in as many dual credit courses as possible prior to graduation. It's also vital to note that not all high schools in the United States offer dual-credit courses.  The options of dual credit courses are something parents and students should look for when choosing an American high school as it plays a crucial role in being admitted to a top-notch college/university.

In this blog post, we will introduce the dual-credit courses system at U.S. high schools, their advantages and options for international students.

What are dual credit courses?

Dual credit courses are when students (usually 11th and 12th graders) take university-level courses while in high school.  They enable students to earn both high school and university credit, simultaneously.  The courses either take place on the university campus or directly at the high school by specially trained staff.  

If courses are taken directly at the high school, it is likely the school has a partnership with a college or university.  Students not only receive college credit but the experience of taking a university-level course, academically challenging themselves prior to their freshmen year of college.

Dual credit courses are important for serious students who not only want to receive valuable learning experience, but also stand out on college applications!

What are the advantages of dual credit courses?

Dual credit courses are advantageous to high school students for many reasons.  Not only do they receive university credit before high school graduation, but the courses prepare students to attain a deeper content understanding of subject material on a university level.  Students who complete dual credit courses have a healthy head start their freshmen year and can be less intimated by the academic rigor of college courses. 

“One thing international students need to remember is that university admissions officers take notice of students who challenge themselves academically.  If you attend a dual-credit course, this means you’re academically ready for university curriculum.” - Ryan Dugan, Amerigo Education Product Specialist


Completing dual credit courses helps students stand out on college applications. Dual credit courses offer students an accelerated path to academic success.  Passing up on these opportunities would not be wise if you wish to be admitted to a prestigious university. 

Dual credit courses also help students figure out what they want to major in in college (or perhaps, what they do not!).  The courses offer students a clear insight to the subject material and will gauge students’ strengths and interests, allowing them to help navigate their academic track.

AP vs. Dual Credit courses


You may have often heard a competitive student would take a lot of AP courses in order to show their level of studies to impress a college admissions officer. With APs being widely offered everywhere in the world these days, why should I be taking the dual credits courses? After all, they are all college level courses that grant university credits, aren’t they?

Well, not exactly.

  1. Dual credit courses are usually developed by local universities own faculty.  The courses tend to be much more focused field of studies, so the subject could be anything!  Whereas, APs are a series of 38 standard courses that take place anywhere in the world. Dual credit courses definitely offers an opportunity for students to stand out on their applications.

  2. Dual credit courses are graded by the instructor and a passing grade of the final exam can grant you the college credits you were looking for. However, for AP courses, not only do you need to pass your final tests developed by your instructor, you will also need to take the standard AP exam, which can be a handful to deal with in terms of scheduling the exam, additional test fees and obviously the extra test prep time. Absence of the standard AP test results are not seen as a good sign in admissions officers’ perspectives from the most competitive colleges in the nation.

Dual credit courses offered at Amerigo Houston

Amerigo Houston’s campus, St. Pius X High School offers students an amazing opportunity for dual credit courses.  They have partnered with The University of Texas at Austin (Top 50 university in the US) and have implemented two successful engineering courses through the Engineer Your World program.

The Engineer Your World program was developed in response to a request from the National Science Foundation to create a high-quality, low-cost, design-based engineering courses. Engineer Your World has grown from a seven-school pilot program into a robust international network serving thousands of students each year.

The program was developed by a team of University of Texas faculty, NASA engineers, and secondary teachers working with the funding from the National Science Foundation.  Engineer Your World is an innovative, student-centered curriculum that engages students in real engineering experiences. 

Engineer Your World’s dual-enrollment program offers unique benefits to enrolled students. The goal is not simply to issue three hours of college credit, but rather to ensure that students understand how course assignments, instructor expectations, and grading may differ between high school and college engineering programs.  University students who take the same courses at The University of Texas Austin complete the same projects and assignments as high school students. Experiencing authentic college-level assignments and expectations while still in high school prepares students for a successful transition to college coursework.


SPX has successfully implemented two courses from this program, Engineering Design and Analysis and Engineering Applications of Computer Science, where students employ engineering processes, skills, and habits to solve real world challenges.  And even better, they receive college credit from The University of Texas! 

Learn more about Amerigo Houston here.