Running Start | Southwestern Illinois College

Get on the fast track to a college education!

Running Start allows highly-qualified high school juniors to earn a high school diploma from their local high school or homeschool while simultaneously earning a transfer degree from SWIC. While courses are offered at all SWIC campuses (Belleville, Sam Wolf Granite City, and Red Bud), specific programs and courses may be available only at the Belleville Campus.

Running Start 1.0 allows highly qualified high school seniors to earn one year of college credit while simultaneously earning credit to earn their high school diploma from their local high school or homeschool. At the end of the year, high school graduates may choose to return to SWIC to complete an associate degree or they may transfer to another college or university.

Running Start students will be integrated into existing college classes with advanced rigor and subject matter. Students will have the opportunity to work in a challenging educational environment and to excel academically while completing high school and college requirements.

Registration for 2021-2022 Running Start is now closed. Contact your local high school or the Running Start office at 618-641-5064 or RunningStart@swic.edu.


2020-2021 participating high schools

The Running Start Program began as a pilot program in fall 2012 with ten students from one high school. Today, Running Start has an average of 250 students each fall, representing 20 public high school partners and area home schools. Partner high schools may have a limit on allowable participates. Please contact the high school for more information.

  • Belleville East
  • Belleville West
  • Cahokia
  • Collinsville
  • Columbia
  • Coulterville
  • East St. Louis
  • East St. Louis Charter
  • Freeburg
  • Granite City
  • Highland
  • Home schools
  • Lebanon
  • Madison
  • Marissa
  • Mascoutah
  • New Athens
  • O’Fallon
  • Red Bud
  • Sparta
  • Triad
  • Waterloo

Get a running start on college!

As SWIC students, Running Start participants can transfer to a four-year institution in the same manner as other community college students. Students may choose to participate in high school athletics and other after-school programs. Running Start students may participate in SWIC student clubs, organizations, and activities, but may not compete in intercollegiate athletics.

Program Requirements
To be eligible for the traditional Running Start program, students must meet the following criteria:

Be currently enrolled as a high school sophomore, preparing to enter junior year
Possess and maintain a minimum 3.2/4.00 GPA
Be in good standing with and referred by their high school institution
Be on track to graduate on time
Have completed one year of high school algebra and geometry
Take the SWIC placement assessment and test into college-level English and math courses

To be eligible for Running Start 1.0, students must meet the following criteria:

Be currently enrolled as a high school junior, preparing to enter senior year
Possess and maintain a minimum 3.2/4.00 GPA
Be in good standing with and referred by their high school institution
Be on track to graduate on time
Have completed two years of high school algebra and geometry
Take the SWIC placement assessment and test into college-level English and math courses

Southwestern Illinois College has established the minimum program requirements listed above. Some high schools have enhanced the program requirements.

You Should Know
Through Running Start, students will have the following responsibilities and opportunities:

  • Be subject to all college rules and regulations
  • Begin creating their college transcripts and records
  • Be considered as both a high school and college student
  • Attend school according to the college calendar
  • Maintain a cumulative SWIC GPA of 2.5 or higher each semester

Tuition and Fees
The participation fees vary by high school. Students are responsible for the purchase for textbooks and supplies.

Students are expected to provide their own transportation to the college campus. They may drive to any SWIC campus with no charge for parking.

Need more information?
Contact your local high school principal or the Running Start office at 618-641-5064 or RunningStart@swic.edu.

Students who qualify for the program by meeting all standards and criteria are identified by the high school and subsequently invited to an informational meeting for students and parents.


Transferring after Running Start

Rylie Pugh – Class of 2021 – Highland High School – Associate of Art – Transfer school: SIUE School of Nursing

“I had the best experience! This program opened me up to new opportunities to stand out from my peers since I have my associate degree and my diploma. The staff and faculty in Running Start are so helpful in making sure this experience is a success for you.”

Running Start participants have transferred to these colleges and universities following program completion:

  • Arizona State University
  • Blackburn College
  • Brigham Young University, Provo
  • Coe College
  • Colorado State
  • Concordia University Wisconsin
  • Culver-Stockton College
  • Dixie State University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Fisk University
  • George Washington University
  • Goldfarb School of Nursing
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Lindenwood
  • Maryville University
  • McKendree University
  • Missouri University of Science & Technology
  • Murray State University
  • New Mexico Tech
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Southeast Missouri State
  • St. Louis College of Pharmacy
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Illinois-Springfield
  • University of Indiana
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • University of Nebraska Omaha
  • University of Tampa
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Wyoming
  • University of Kentucky
  • Washington University

College transfer information collected from graduate surveys.

Southwestern Illinois College participates in the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI). For more information on transferring after SWIC, visit https://www.swic.edu/students/services/advising/transfer-of-credit-and-articulation/ .