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
Math units (Std.) 3, incl. algebra, geometry, statistics and probability
Eff. Class of 2011: Students must complete Algebra I by end of grade 8
Eff. Class of 2015: Must include 1 unit Algebra II

Notes/Citation: 3 units must include "at least algebra, geometry, statistics and probability sufficient to satisfy the academic standard."

Social studies units (Std.) 3.5

Notes/Citation: 3.5 units must include U.S. history, "geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics...."

Science units (Std.) 3, incl. 1 unit biology
Eff. Class of 2015: Must also incl. 1 unit chemistry or physics
P.E./Health units (Std.) 0
Arts (Std.) 1
Foreign language (Std.) 0
Electives units (Std.) 7
Other units (Std.) 0

Notes/Citation: Technology and information literacy standards must be embedded into graduation requirements but no units currently required.

TOTAL # units (Std.) 21.5
Other diploma options State does not offer differentiated diploma pathways. State has policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.)  MINN. STAT. ANN. § 120B.021, 120B.023, 120B.024; MINN. R. 3501.0010, .0020, .0040, .0200, 0210, 0230; July 28, 2003 memo from Superintendent Cheri Pierson Yecke to Superintendents and Education Organizations
Planning and Counseling Requirement
State requires student to adopt learning plan (not including career pathway requirements) No. However, the state supports "learning year programs" that provide instruction throughout the year at state-designated sites. Every student in the learning year program must have a "continual learning plan ... developed at least annually... with the participation of the pupil, parent or guardian, teachers, and other staff.... The plan must specify the learning experiences that must occur during the entire fiscal year and, for secondary students, for graduation...."
Additional Coursework Options and Requirements
State has policy on early graduation Yes. Any high school student who has completed all course and testing requirements for high school graduation may, with the approval of the student's parent/guardian and local school officials, "graduate before the completion of the school year." "A learning year program provides instruction throughout the year" at a state-designated area learning center; students may participate to accelerate completion of graduation requirements.
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. A student may submit an application for a waiver from a graduation requirement. The district, charter school, or area learning center "must declare that a student meets or exceeds a specific academic standard required for graduation" if it is determined that the student is participating in a course of study, including in "a learning opportunity outside the curriculum ... or an approved preparatory program for employment or postsecondary education that is equally or more rigorous than the corresponding state or local academic standard" the student would otherwise have to complete. The district "also may formally determine other circumstances in which to declare that a student meets or exceeds a specific academic standard that the site requires for graduation..." In statute pertaining to graduation requirements eff. Class of 2008, course credit is defined as either completing a year of study "or a student mastering the applicable subject matter, as determined by the local school district."
Required coursework aligned with college entrance requirements
  • No
  • 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
Sources Early graduation: MINN. STAT. ANN. § 120B.07, 124D.128, 120A.22
Proficiency-based credit: MINN. STAT. ANN. § 120B.021, 120B.024
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: MINN. STAT. § 120B.021, 120B.024; College admissions requirements: Minnesota State Colleges & Universities Web site

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