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

District of Columbia

Standard Diploma
English units (Std.) 4
Math units (Std.) 3, including Elementary Algebra
Eff. Class of 2011: 4, including Algebra I, geometry and Algebra II

Notes/Citation: Students must complete 1 unit Algebra I and/or a higher level course "and must enroll in the course no later than grade 9."

Social studies units (Std.) 3.5
Eff. Class of 2011: 4

Notes/Citation: Pre-2011: Must include .5 unit D.C. History-Government, 1 unit U.S. History, .5 unit U.S. Government, 1 unit World History, .5 unit World Geography. Eff. Class of 2011: Must include World History 1 and 2; U.S. History; U.S. Government and DC History

Science units (Std.) 3, incl. 1 unit lab science
Eff. Class of 2011: 4, incl. 3 units lab science
P.E./Health units (Std.) 1.5

Notes/Citation: 1.5 units "health & physical education"

Arts (Std.) 1

Notes/Citation: 1 unit of arts must be comprised of .5 unit art and .5 unit music

Foreign language (Std.) 2
Electives units (Std.) 4.5
Eff. Class of 2011: 1.5
Other units (Std.) 1
Eff. Class of 2011: See notes
Notes/Citation: Pre-2011: Students must complete 1 unit "Career/Vocational Education" and 100 hours of community service (no units assigned to these hours). Eff. Class of 2011: 2 units either career/technology education or college-level courses (AP, IB or dual enrollment). Requirement of 100 hours of community service remains in place.
TOTAL # units (Std.) 23.5
Eff. Class of 2011: 24

Notes/Citation: According to the District of Columbia Public Schools Web site, Banneker Senior High School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts students must complete 26 Carnegie units.

Other diploma options D.C. does not offer differentiated diploma pathways. D.C. does not have policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) Eff. Class of 2011, "Students must complete at least one credit-bearing course during the third or subsequent [high school] years that requires a culminating composition or project that is formally presented." In addition, all 11th graders "must write a coherent thesis that conveys a clear and distinctive position." All 12th graders "must write and present a cogent thesis."
D.C. MUN. REGS., tit. 5, § 2202, 2203, 2203.1
Planning and Counseling Requirement
State requires student to adopt learning plan (not including career pathway requirements) Yes, eff. students entering grade 9 in the 2007-2008 school year (Class of 2011). At the beginning of 9th grade, students must, with the assistance and signed approval of the school counselor, develop a graduation plan setting forth the courses they will take during their high school career.
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
  • 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 Learning plan: D.C. MUN. REGS. tit. V, § 2203.1
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: D.C. MIN. REGS. tit. 5, § 2203. College admissions requirements: The District of Columbia does not have district-wide admissions requirements

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