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Early College

High school students graduating with an associate degree from a North Carolina early college (known as Cooperative Innovative High Schools) can apply as a first-year or transfer applicant. We've provided information below to help you decide.

Our Commitment to You

We are committed to enrolling North Carolina early college high school students. For early college high school students enrolled in an NC Community College, we follow the transfer of course credit policy as defined in the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) between the UNC System and the NC Community College System.

For other early college high schools, we make decisions on transfer of courses based on our evaluation of the courses.

  • Students who have not taken any college courses since graduating high school are considered first-year applicants.
  • Common App uses “freshman” to designate first-year applicants.
  • At NC State, first-year applicant simply means first-time college student — it does not describe your credit standing.
  • First-year applicants can receive credit for transferable college courses taken during high school as well as AP or IB exam credit.
  • Early College students bring in 58 college credits on average, often classified as a sophomore or junior depending on the total number of transfer credits received.

Special Consideration of NC Cooperative Innovative High School Applicants

Applicants from North Carolina Cooperative Innovative High Schools receive special consideration in admission to UNC system universities based on North Carolina law. According to House Bill 97 Section 11.16.(a), “any student who graduated from a cooperative innovative high school program with an associate degree and who applies for admission to the constituent institution has the option of being considered for admission as a freshman or as a transfer student.”

At NC State, we want to consider your application in the way that most benefits you in your final admissions decision.

  • We encourage you to apply as a first-year applicant and to send in your high school and college transcripts so we can take both into consideration. This allows us to weigh both your high school and college work before we make a decision.
  • We are test-optional for 2024 applicants, so you have the option of whether or not test scores are considered in your application review.
  • We encourage you to review how we review both first-year applications and transfer applications to help you make the best decision for you.

Applying as a First-Year Applicant

  • First-year applicants can choose a first-choice major and second-choice major on the application. If we find you are not competitive for your first-choice, we will review you for your second-choice major.
  • We offer many first-year programs to help you explore your options during your first year at NC State.
    • NC State’s Exploratory Studies program is designed to provide guided exploration of majors and careers to first-year students through general education courses to help them discover their interests. The Exploratory Studies program is not as beneficial to students bringing in more than 20 transferable college credits as they have often met the majority of the general education requirements at NC State. There are other options for undecided programs within the colleges. Contact our office with questions or to discuss your options.
  • First-year applicants who apply by our November 1 Early Action deadline will receive priority consideration for financial aid and scholarships as well as our University Honors Program.
  • If you are applying for fall admission, you can receive your decision as early as late January if you apply Early Action.

Applying as a Transfer Applicant

  • Transfer applicants can choose a first-choice major and second-choice major on the application. If we find you are not competitive for your first-choice, we will review you for your second-choice major.
  • Transfer applicants must meet our recommendations for competitive applicants to be competitive for admission at NC State.
  • If you are applying for fall admission, you will receive your decision in mid to late April.

High School Counselors

Explore resources for high school counselors and community-based organizations.