Cooperative Innovative High Schools

2023 NCCIHS map

North Carolina's Cooperative Innovative High Schools, consisting of early colleges and other innovative high schools, are small public high schools, usually located on the campus of a university or community college, which expand students’ opportunities for educational success through high-quality instructional programming.

Cooperative Innovative High Schools target students who are at risk of dropping out of high school, first-generation college students, and/or students who would benefit from accelerated learning opportunities. Currently, North Carolina has 134 Cooperative Innovative High Schools, including 123 funded partnerships. Students interested in attending one of these schools should contact their school district central office or the principal at the school for information about the selection and enrollment process. LEAs interested in creating a Cooperative Innovative High School must apply in partnership with an Institution of Higher Education. Click CIHS Applicants tab to the right for more information.

  • 118 CHIS partner with community colleges
  • 11 CIHS partner with UNC institutions
  • 5 CIHS partner with independent colleges



The Innovative Education Initiatives Act (SL 2003-277, Senate Bill 656) and the Cooperative Innovative High School Programs statute (§ 115C-238.50-.55) encourage Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to partner with their local postsecondary Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to provide cooperative programs jointly in high schools and colleges/universities that will expand students’ opportunities for education success through high quality instructional programming.