Can You Go to Two Colleges at Once? There Are a Few Ways

It's an age old question: Can I be enrolled at two collegesat once? Well, we have some answers to this burning question.

Can You Go to Two Colleges at Once? There Are a Few Ways
Akbar Nemati

A very popular question in America seems to be, “Can you go to two colleges at once?” Maybe it’s popular because it sounds like the basis for a bad comedy while at the same time also having a sense of realism to it, as if you might know someone who knew someone who attended two colleges at once. Anyway, many people, whether prospective college students or not, wonder if you can attend two colleges at the same time. The answer to that question is complex.

It is generally not possible to physically attend two colleges simultaneously in the United States. Each college typically has its own academic requirements, schedules, and campus commitments that make it difficult to fully engage in multiple programs simultaneously. Attending multiple colleges at the same time would likely lead to scheduling conflicts and difficulties in meeting the academic and extracurricular obligations of each institution.

That being said, there are ways to get the experience of attending two colleges at once. In this BrokeScholar article, we outline the various ways you can attend two colleges at once, be it virtually, through an online program, or directly, through special partnerships held between schools. Read on to find out more about trying to attend two colleges at the same time.

Table of Contents

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment programs are primarily designed for high school students to earn college credits while still in high school. These programs allow motivated high school students to take college-level courses and potentially earn credits that can be transferred to a college or university after high school graduation.

The concept of dual enrollment, however, is not commonly extended to current college students in the same way. Once a student is enrolled in a college or university, they are typically expected to complete their coursework at that institution. While there may be opportunities for college students to take courses at other institutions through cross-registration programs or transfer agreements, these are usually more limited in scope compared to traditional dual enrollment programs for high school students.

That said, some colleges and universities may have specific agreements or partnerships with other institutions that allow their students to take courses at the partner institution while still enrolled in their home college. These arrangements are often subject to certain conditions, such as limited course availability, compatibility of curricula, and approval from both institutions.

If you are a current college student interested in taking courses at another institution, it is advisable to consult with your academic advisor and the relevant offices at both institutions to inquire about any available options or specific programs that might allow for dual enrollment or cross-registration.

Cross-Registration Programs

Some colleges have agreements or partnerships with nearby institutions that allow students to cross-register for courses. This enables students to take courses at the partner institution while still being enrolled in their home college. The availability of cross-registration programs varies among institutions, so it's important to check with each college to determine if this option is available.

There are several examples of cross-registration programs between colleges and universities that allow students to take courses at partner institutions. Here are some examples of colleges and universities that have specific agreements or partnerships with other institutions to allow their students to take courses at the partner institution while remaining enrolled at their home college:

Five College Consortium

These five colleges, which compose the Five College Consortium, in Massachusetts have a consortium agreement that allows students from each institution to cross-register for courses at any of the other colleges, broadening their academic options.

Claremont Colleges Consortium

The Claremont Colleges in California have a consortium agreement that enables students to enroll in courses at any of the member colleges, facilitating interdisciplinary study and collaboration.

Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts

This partnership allows students at Tufts University to take courses at the SMFA at Tufts and vice versa, providing a comprehensive arts education across both institutions.

Columbia University and Barnard College

Columbia University — America’s most expensive college — and Barnard College — one of the Seven Sister colleges — have a close affiliation, allowing students from each institution to cross-register for courses at the other, enriching their academic experiences.

Boston College and Boston University

Boston College and Boston University have a cross-registration agreement, often called the Boston Area Consortia, enabling students at each institution to take courses at the other, expanding their academic opportunities within the city of Boston.

The Ivy League

The Ivy League universities, including Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University, have cross-registration agreements that enable students to take courses at other Ivy League schools.


The Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE): ARCHE is a consortium of colleges and universities in the Atlanta metropolitan area, including Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and several others. The cross-registration program allows students at participating institutions to take courses at any of the member institutions, expanding their academic opportunities.

Quaker Consortium

The Quaker Consortium involves Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. Students at any of these institutions can cross-register for courses at the other member colleges, allowing for a broader range of academic exploration.

There are plenty more examples of cross-registration programs among colleges and universities. Bear in mind that the specifics of these programs may vary, including limitations on the number of courses students can take and the approval process required. Students interested in cross-registration should consult with their academic advisors and the participating institutions for detailed information and requirements.

Online Courses

Many colleges and universities offer online courses that can be taken remotely. If both colleges offer online courses and accept transfer credits, it may be possible to take online courses from both institutions. However, you would still need to meet the academic requirements and ensure that the schedules do not conflict.

In any case, it's essential to consult with academic advisors at each institution to understand the specific policies, limitations, and opportunities available to students who wish to pursue multiple college experiences simultaneously.

Literally Attending Two Colleges at Once

While it is highly unusual for a student to physically attend two colleges simultaneously in the US, there may be some exceptional cases where students manage to navigate multiple college experiences. However, such cases are extremely rare and often involve unique circumstances. Here are a few scenarios where attending two colleges at once may be possible:

Joint Programs

Some colleges offer joint or dual-degree programs in partnership with other institutions. These programs are designed specifically to allow students to pursue degrees from two colleges simultaneously. In such cases, students typically divide their time between the two campuses and follow a structured curriculum that meets the requirements of both institutions.

Special Arrangements

In certain situations, a student may be granted permission to attend two colleges concurrently due to extenuating circumstances or unique academic opportunities. This could occur when two colleges have a close partnership, and an exceptional student has demonstrated the capability to handle the workload and requirements of both institutions.

Transfer Agreements

A student who has completed a significant portion of their coursework at one college may transfer to another institution and continue their studies while maintaining a connection with the first college. This could involve taking courses at both colleges simultaneously for a transitional period until the student fully transitions to the new institution.

The Bottom Line: Can You Attend Two Colleges at Once?

Successfully pulling off attending two colleges simultaneously is a rare and highly unusual endeavor in the US. While it is generally not possible to physically be present at two institutions at the same time, there are exceptional cases where students may actually engage in multiple college experiences through joint programs, special arrangements, or transfer agreements. These situations require careful coordination, approval from both institutions, and a clear understanding of the academic requirements and scheduling challenges. 

For most students, however, it is more practical to explore other options such as dual enrollment during high school, cross-registration programs, or online courses to broaden their educational experiences. Indeed, you can even win one of the many dual enrollment program scholarships available out there. Ultimately, it is essential to consult with academic advisors and administrators to determine the feasibility and opportunities available for pursuing multiple college experiences simultaneously.

Andrew DePietro

Author: Andrew DePietro

Senior Researcher, and Content Strategist

Andrew DePietro is a finance writer covering topics such as entrepreneurship, investing, real estate and college for BrokeScholar, Forbes, CreditKarma, and more.