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 jdounay@ecs.org.


New Jersey

Standard Diploma
English units (Std.) 20 credits (4 Carnegie units)
Math units (Std.) 15 credits (3 Carnegie units)
Social studies units (Std.) 15 credits (3 Carnegie units)

Notes/Citation: Must include 2-year course in U.S. and New Jersey state history. Must include instruction in American government and principles.

Science units (Std.) 15 credits (3 Carnegie units)
P.E./Health units (Std.) 15 credits (3 Carnegie units)

Notes/Citation: At least 3 3/4 credits in health, safety, and physical education during each year of enrollment, distributed as 150 minutes per week...."

Arts (Std.) 5 credits (1 Carnegie unit)

Notes/Citation: 5 credits in visual and performing arts

Foreign language (Std.) 5 credits (1 Carnegie unit)
Electives units (Std.) 0
Other units (Std.) 5 (1 Carnegie unit)
Notes/Citation: "Technological literacy, consistent with the Core Curriculum Content Standards," must be "integrated throughout the curriculum...." However, students are not required to complete specified credits in technology courses. Students must complete 5 credits "in career education and consumer, family, and life skills, or vocational-technical education."
TOTAL # units (Std.) 110 credits (22 Carnegie units)

Notes/Citation: 19 state-determined units and 3 district-determined requirements or electives.

Other diploma options State does not offer differentiated diploma pathways. State has multiple policies on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) Requirements are listed in administrative code as "credits" rather than Carnegie units. Five credits appear to equal one Carnegie unit. District boards must adopt requirements for a state-endorsed diploma, which must include either (1) completion of the 110 credit requirement through course completion or (2) completion of 110 credits in part or in whole through a proficiency-based mechanism. Local requirements must, in addition to course/competency requirements, include "local student attendance requirements."
N.J. ADMIN. CODE tit. 6A, § 8-5.1 and 5.2; N.J. STAT. ANN. § 18A:35-1, -2, 4.13, 4.18, -5, -7 and -8
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 Yes. Local boards may give a state-endorsed high school diploma to any student who has (1) scored at the proficient or advanced proficient level in all sections of the HSPA (High School Proficiency Assessment); "presented official transcripts showing at least 30 general education credits leading to a degree at an accredited institution of higher education; and (3) has, if a student currently enrolled in a public school; formally requested such early award of a state-endorsed high school diploma."
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. Rather than requiring students to complete the specified 110 credits in certain courses, districts may allow or require students to complete graduation requirements by achieving the Core Curriculum Content Standards. Curricular activities and programs may involve in-depth experiences linked to the Core Curriculum Content Standards, such as interdisciplinary or theme-based programs, independent study, co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, magnet programs, student exchange programs, distance learning opportunities, internships, community service, or other structured learning experiences. (B) Programs and appropriate assessments shall be planned for individuals and/or a group based on specific instructional objectives aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards. (C) The principal shall certify completion of curricular activities or programs based upon specified instructional objectives aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards. (D) Group programs based upon specific instructional objectives aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards shall be approved in the same manner as other approved courses. (E) Individual programs based upon specific instructional objectives aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards shall be on file in the local district and subject to review by the Commissioner or his or her designee." Districts may also use "performance or competency assessment to approve student completion of programs aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards at the secondary level, including those occurring all or in part prior to a student's high school enrollment."
High School Proficiency Assessment Option: Local boards may give a state-endorsed high school diploma to any student who has (1) scored at the proficient or advanced proficient level in all sections of the HSPA (High School Proficiency Assessment); "presented official transcripts showing at least 30 general education credits leading to a degree at an accredited institution of higher education; and (3) has, if a student currently enrolled in a public school; formally requested such early award of a state-endorsed high school diploma."
Foreign language requirement: Effective with the Class of 2008, in lieu of completing the five credits in world languages, student may demonstrate proficiency.
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 Early graduation: N.J. ADMIN. CODE tit. 6, § 8-5.2
Proficiency-based credit:N.J. ADMIN. CODE tit. 6, § 8-5.1, 8-5.2 ; N.J. STAT. ANN. § 18A:35-4.18
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: N.J. ADMIN. CODE tit. 6, § 8-5.1, N.J. STAT. ANN. § 18A:35-1 and -2; College admissions requirements: ECS Postsecondary Governance Structures Database

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