Standard High School Graduation Requirements

Standard High School Graduation Requirements

The information below describes state high school graduation requirements as defined by state statutes and regulations. These requirements should be understood to show minimum course requirements, in that local boards may adopt graduation requirements above and beyond those mandated by the state. Policies reflect courses to be completed and do not include exit exam requirements. This database indicates where state policy specifies courses that may or must be completed to earn subject area credit.

With the exception of Nebraska and New Jersey, required coursework is expressed in Carnegie units, with one unit reflecting one year of coursework. Units defined in Idaho and Indiana policy have been translated from half-year to full-year units to maintain consistency. Exceptions and other circumstances related to completing high school graduation course requirements are included in the "Technical Notes and Citations" field at the end of each state's report. Subject area fields with a --- indicate that the state does not set course requirements for that subject. Where the number of state-mandated units in specific subjects falls below the total number of state-mandated units, this difference is indicated in the "total units" field rather than the "electives" field to reflect local districts' option to increase unit requirements in subject areas.

This information was gathered in January to August 2005 and is updated as new policies are enacted.

Last update: March 23, 2007

This database was compiled by Jennifer Dounay Zinth, project manager, ECS High School Policy Center. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or


Standard Diploma
English units (Std.) 4

Notes/Citation: English 9, 10, 11, 12

Math units (Std.) 4, including 1 unit each of Algebra I and geometry
Eff. Class of 2013: 4, including 1 unit each of Algebra I, geometry and Algebra II with Trigonometry
Social studies units (Std.) 4
Science units (Std.) 4, including 1 unit each of biology and a physical science
P.E./Health units (Std.) 1.5

Notes/Citation: 1 unit p.e. and .5 unit health

Arts (Std.) .5

Notes/Citation: .5 unit "arts education"

Foreign language (Std.) 0
Eff. Class of 2013: 2 credits in same foreign language
Electives units (Std.) 5.5
Eff. Class of 2013: 3.5

Notes/Citation: For 12th graders opting into the Alabama High School Diploma with Credit-Based Endorsement (for students who have not passed 2 of 5 subtests of Alabama High School Graduation Exam) eff. Class of 2013, 1 elective credit must be a CTE credit.

Other units (Std.) .5
Notes/Citation: .5 unit "Computer Applications." Computer Applications "may be waived if competencies outlined in the computer applications course are demonstrated to qualified staff in the local school system. The designated one credit shall then be added to the elective credits, making a total of three elective credits."
TOTAL # units (Std.) 24
Other diploma options State additionally offers the Alabama High School Diploma with Credit-Based Endorsement, for students who by end of grade 12 have not passed one or more of the five subtests of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (students must have passed the reading, math, and one of the three other sections of the exam). Credit requirements for this option are identical to those for Alabama High School Diploma, with exception that, starting with 12th graders in 2012-13 school year, 1 of 5.5 elective credits must be a CTE credit.

State also offers two technical diplomas and honors/college prep diploma. State has policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) Eff. Class of 2013 (for all diploma options), students must complete an online/technology enhanced course or experience. Exceptions through Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) will be allowed.

Effective with the Class of 2013, the Alabama High School Diploma with Advanced Academic Endorsement becomes the first-choice diploma for high school students.
ALA. CODE § 16-6B-2; ALA. ADMIN. CODE R. 290-3-1-.02
Planning and Counseling Requirement
State requires student to adopt learning plan (not including career pathway requirements) No
Additional Coursework Options and Requirements
State has policy on early graduation No
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. Districts may opt to participate in the "Credit Advancement" program, which was piloted during the 2009-10 school year. Through Credit Advancement, a student may take an end-of-course exam after demonstrating readiness based on the recommendation of former teachers of the subject, and performance on state and national tests. Students must earn a minimum score of 80 on the exam to earn credit. After receiving the score, the student may choose whether to accept the score or take the course. If the student elects to accept the score, the score will be calculated into his/her GPA.
Required coursework aligned with college entrance requirements
  • No
  • State does not have statewide college entrance requirements
All high school students are required to declare a major/career pathway/career focus No
Sources Proficiency-based credit: Alabama State Board of Education Resolution, December 11, 2008; "First Choice: Alabama High School Graduates of the Future" PowerPoint (no date)
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: ALA. ADMIN. CODE R. 290-3-1-.02, ALA. CODE § 16-6B-2; College admissions requirements: ECS Postsecondary Governance Structures Database

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