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Massachusetts Maritime Academy is offering no-cost college credits to eligible high school students who are interested in taking a college course this coming spring.

The school will be offering three courses, each giving high school students the opportunity to earn three credit hours: Introduction to Emergency Management, Current Environmental Problems and Organization Management. Students who are admitted into the program will have the ability to take all three classes if they meet the requirements to do so.

Typically the classes would be held on the Buzzards Bay campus, but due to the pandemic they will be entirely online.

The offering is part of the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership, which consists of 15 community colleges and 13 state schools that offer high school students credits toward their college degrees. In addition to the college credit, taking a college course carries a heavier grading weight when it comes to grade point averages and are treated with the same weight as an Advanced Placement course.

Tuition for these offerings is provided at no cost, though an institution might charge a nominal fee for admission. The cost of books and supplies are generally the responsibility of the student.

Dione Eaton, dual enrollment coordinator for the academy, said the state’s dual enrollment program is one of the commonwealth’s best-kept secrets, but it wants more students to know about it.

“We want every eligible student to take advantage of the opportunity to explore college classes and potential career paths through dual enrollment courses at MMA,” she said.

Ms. Eaton said the classes the school is offering are introductory so that students will be able to better understand the field and gain a better understanding as to whether they want to further pursue studying those areas.

“Dual enrollment courses help students understand the commitment that college classes require,” Ms. Eaton said.

After high school, the credits can be applied to a degree at the academy or transferred to another school.

Eligible students need to be Massachusetts residents who are enrolled in a Massachusetts school, including public, private and home schools. Students have to have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 or be able to show they can be academically successful by showing evidence of steady grade improvement or have an endorsement from a teacher or guidance counselor.

To be able to participate, a completed application along with an official high school transcript must be submitted no later than January 15, 2021.

While the opportunity for high school students to take college courses has been available since 1993, the pandemic has allowed the participating institutions the ability to reach more students.

“The dual enrollment program has been in place for a number of years, but many families are not aware of it,” Ms. Eaton said. “The fact that the classes are being offered remotely opens the door to any Massachusetts student who has the interest and meets the requirements.”

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