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UNC System implements standardized advanced placement credit policy

The University of North Carolina System has a new advanced placement credit policy under which its 16 universities must grant credit to students who have earned a score of 3 or higher on advanced placement exams, except in cases in which a course has been granted an exception by an institution’s board of trustees.

The AP Credit Acceptance policy became effective at Western Carolina University and other UNC institutions July 1. Prior to the change, the policies governing the acceptance of AP scores varied across UNC System institutions. For example, at 10 universities, including WCU, students could get credit for scoring a 3 on the popular U.S. history AP exam, while at the remaining six universities, a 4 was required for credit.

“Our new AP Credit Acceptance policy is vital to the UNC System’s ongoing work to put higher education within reach of every qualified North Carolinian,” said UNC System Interim President William Roper. “This new policy will encourage more high school students across the state to get a head start on their college careers. It will make completing a UNC System education, at any one of our institutions, faster and more affordable.”

The new AP policy is aligned with the UNC System’s Strategic Plan, which aims to increase access, affordability and degree completion. Research suggests that students who earn college credit prior to enrolling in college are more likely to graduate and do so in a timely fashion.

With the new policy, prospective students will benefit from greater transparency and predictability, UNC System officials said. Those improvements also may create greater incentive for students to enroll in AP courses and for high schools to offer a robust set of offerings. Data show that students from rural counties and those from families earning less than $60,000 per year could receive credit for up to 45 percent more courses than they did previously, officials said.

“We are excited about this new policy and that every student in North Carolina knows that WCU will accept their score of 3 or higher and give credit along with other sister institutions,” said Mike Langford, WCU’s director of undergraduate admissions. “It will help some students speed up the process to complete their degree or give them the opportunity to take some extra classes in areas they might like to explore.”

For more information about undergraduate admissions at WCU, visit

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