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Early College Credit Program

Wisconsin high school students earn college credit from Carthage — and get a taste of college life — through the Early College Credit Program (formerly known as “Youth Options”).

To participate in the Early College Credit Program, a student must attend a Wisconsin high school, and must be seeking coursework not available at his or her school. Funding is provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Based on individual high school requirements, courses may count toward high school graduation and/or college credit.

Students must be approved by their school district and by Carthage College to enroll in courses. To apply for the Early College Credit Program, students must complete the following:

Application Checklist

  • Complete the Early College Credit Program Participation Form and submit it to your high school counselor.
  • Submit your high school transcripts to Carthage College.
  • Submit your ACT/SAT score (if taken) to Carthage College Carthage’s Early College Credit Program.


For more information about Carthage’s Early College Credit Program, contact:
Ben Gorres
Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Early College Credit Program?
The Early College Credit Program is an opportunity for students in grades 9-12 enrolled in a Wisconsin public or private high school to attend a Wisconsin postsecondary institution for the purpose of taking one or more courses for high school and/or college credit. For complete details about the program, visit the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ website.

What are the benefits of the Early College Credit Program?
There are many benefits:

  • High school students get a taste of college life through the Early College Credit Program.
  • Participation can give high school students a competitive advantage when they begin the college search process and submitting their college applications.
  • Students and families can save money on tuition.
  • Students will have access to all of the resources on campus, beginning with our Hedberg Library!

How does a student access the Early College Credit Program?
Students interested in participating in the program should talk with staff at their high school and the postsecondary institution they plan to attend and decide on an appropriate course or courses. High school counselors are typically a good place to start.

Once a student has decided on the course or courses for which he or she wants to apply, the student needs to notify the school board of their school district with the titles of the courses in which they intend to enroll, the number of credits of each course, and specify whether they will be taking the course(s) for high school or postsecondary credit. The notification needs to be submitted to the district by March 1 when applying for fall semester classes and Oct. 1 when applying for spring semester classes.

How many classes can I take?
Early College Credit Program students at Carthage may enroll in a maximum of eight credits (2 courses) each term. The state of Wisconsin restricts the total number of Early College Credit Program credits to 18 credits in total.

What is the cost of the ECCP Program?
According to Wisconsin legislation, the cost of college classes, books, and course materials will be paid by the public high school student’s school district if the high school does not offer a comparable course, or if the student has exhausted the course curriculum.

If a student withdraws prior to completion of the semester, fees will be handled on an individual basis. If a student receives a failing grade in a course, the student’s parent or guardian is required to reimburse the school district if requested.

Are home-schooled students eligible to participate in the Early College Credit Program?
No. The program is available to any public and private school pupil enrolled in high school.

Will credits received at Carthage transfer to another college?
All courses taken by Early College Credit Program students at Carthage College will be recorded and transcribed as postsecondary credit, and they will become part of a student’s permanent college record. Credits earned through the program may be accepted by most other colleges and universities. However, we do not guarantee acceptance, since every institution is governed by its own policies. Please check with the other institution to determine if courses will transfer.

Can an Early College Credit Program student take a course that is offered by a postsecondary institution outside of Wisconsin?
No. The statute specifically states that the program is available for programs located in the state (Wisconsin). Eligible institutions include the University of Wisconsin system, Wisconsin private nonprofit institutions, and Wisconsin tribally controlled colleges.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …