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.) --
Math units (Std.) --
Social studies units (Std.) .5 unit U.S. and state government (see notes). All other social studies requirements set at the district level.
Notes/Citation: Students must complete .5 unit "on the civil government of the United States and the state of Colorado", which must include "the history, culture, and contributions of minorities, including, but not limited to, the American Indians, the Hispanic Americans, and the African Americans[.]"
Science units (Std.) --
P.E./Health units (Std.) --
Arts (Std.) --
Foreign language (Std.) --
Electives units (Std.) --
Other units (Std.) --
TOTAL # units (Std.) --
Other diploma options State has policy permitting districts to grant a "postsecondary and workforce readiness endorsement". State does not have policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) All graduation requirements in Colorado, with the exception of the .5 unit of U.S. and state government and history, are determined by local boards. However, legislation directs the state board of education, by December 15, 2011, to adopt a comprehensive set of guidelines for districts to use in developing local graduation requirements. Local graduation requirements must meet or exceed any minimum standards or basic core competencies or skills identified in the guidelines. The guidelines must be aligned with the description of postsecondary and workforce readiness adopted by the state board and the Colorado commission on higher education.
CO Const. Art. IX, § 15; COLO. REV. STAT. ANN. § 22-1-104, 22-2-106
Planning and Counseling Requirement
State requires student to adopt learning plan (not including career pathway requirements) Yes. An individual career and academic plan (ICAP) is developed by the student and student's parent, in collaboration with school counselors, administrators, personnel and/or approved postsecondary service providers that is used to help establish personalized academic and career goals, explore postsecondary career and educational opportunities, align coursework and curriculum, apply to postsecondary institutions, secure financial aid and ultimately enter the workforce. ("Approved postsecondary service providers" are representatives of pre-collegiate service-providing programs who support middle and high school students' postsecondary objectives and planning and who have a formal service agreement with the schools they serve.)

Beginning with the student's 9th grade year, the ICAP must include goals for the student based on academic and career interests, and must identify required academic courses, career courses, electives and contextual and service learning opportunities (i.e., student activities to establish connections between school-based instruction and work and learning that occurs outside the school) aligned to the district's program of instruction related to postsecondary and workforce readiness.

Effective September 30, 2011, each school counselor or administrator must ensure that every student in grades 9-12 and their parents has assistance in the development of an ICAP. (An ICAP may but is not required to be developed in any grade prior to grade nine.) ICAP access and assistance must be provided at least annually in grades 9-12, and each year's ICAP review must indicate any differences in goal revision, new postsecondary career and educational plans, financial aid opportunities and changes in academic courses.

Each ICAP must include a career planning and guidance component and portfolio that includes the student's:
(1) Efforts in exploring careers, including a written postsecondary and workforce goal for the student; yearly benchmarks for reaching that goal; interest surveys the student completes; and anticipated postsecondary studies
(2) Academic progress, including courses taken, any remediation or credit recovery, and any concurrent enrollment credits earned
(3) An intentional sequence of courses reflecting progress toward achieving the student's postsecondary and workforce objectives
(4) Relevant assessment scores
(5) Progress in visual arts and performing arts courses
(6) Plans for and experiences in contextual and service learning, if applicable
(7) College applications and resume, as they are prepared and submitted
(8) The student's postsecondary studies as the student progresses through high school
(9) The student's progress toward securing scholarships, work-study, student loans and grants
(10) Other data reflecting progress toward postsecondary and workforce readiness, including the student's understanding of the financial impact of postsecondary education.

Each ICAP portfolio must be transferable in print or electronic form so that when a student transfers schools or districts, his/her career and academic plans follow him/her.
Additional Coursework Options and Requirements
State has policy on early graduation No
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency No
Required coursework aligned with college entrance requirements
  • State does not have h.s. graduation requirements
  • State does not have statewide college entrance requirements
All high school students are required to declare a major/career pathway/career focus No
High school graduation requirements: CO Const. Art. IX, § 15, COLO. REV. STAT. ANN. § 22-1-104; College admissions requirements: ECS Postsecondary Governance Structures Database, Colorado Commission on Higher Education Admission Standards Policy, updated February 2, 2006

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