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

New York

Standard Diploma
English units (Std.) 4
Math units (Std.) 3
Social studies units (Std.) 4

Notes/Citation: 1 unit American history, .5 unit each in "participation in government" and "economics or their equivalent."

Science units (Std.) 3 (incl. min. 1 unit lab)

Notes/Citation: 3 units of "commencement level science," including 1 unit life sciences, 1 unit physical sciences and 1 unit either life sciences or physical sciences.

P.E./Health units (Std.) 2.5

Notes/Citation: 2 units p.e. and .5 unit health education.

Arts (Std.) 1
Foreign language (Std.) 1
Electives units (Std.) 0
Other units (Std.) 0
TOTAL # units (Std.) 22

Notes/Citation: 18.5 state-determined units and 3.5 district-determined units.

Other diploma options State offers honors/college prep and technical curriculum options and proficiency-based credit option.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 8, § 100.2, 100.5
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. "[S]tudents seeking to complete the diploma requirements prescribed by this section in less than four years shall be subject to the diploma requirements applicable to a student who first entered grade nine four years prior to the school year in which the diploma is to be awarded, provided that a student graduating at the end of the fall semester shall be subject to the graduation requirements in effect for the preceding school year. The diploma shall be awarded at the end of the semester in which all requirements are completed. Diplomas shall not be awarded in anticipation that requirements will be met." "A student who has completed the diploma requirements ... in fewer than eight semesters, and who is otherwise eligible to receive a diploma, shall not be required to continue enrollment in high school for the sole purpose of completing the physical education requirements..."
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. "A student may earn a maximum of 6 1/2 units of credit for a ... diploma without completing units of study for such units of credit, if: (i) based on the student's past academic performance, the superintendent of a school district or the chief administrative officer of a registered nonpublic high school, or his or her designee, determines that the student will benefit academically by exercising this alternative; (ii) the student achieves a score of at least 85 percent, or its equivalent as determined by the commissioner, on a State-developed or State-approved assessment ...; (iii) the student passes an oral examination or successfully completes a special project to demonstrate proficiency, in such knowledge, skills and abilities normally developed in the course but not measured by the relevant Regents examination or State-approved examination if used, as determined by the principal; and (iv) the student attends school, or received substantially equivalent instruction elsewhere, in accordance with section 3204(2) of the Education Law, until the age of 16, pursuant to sections 3204 and 3205 of the Education Law." Regulation also identifies the units of credit a student may receive for earning a score of at least 85 on specified Regents exams or by participating in specific arts activities. In addition, students may be exempted from foreign language coursework requirements "by passing an approved second language proficiency examination when such an examination is available."
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.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 8, § 100.5
Proficiency-based credit: N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 8, § 100.2, 100.5
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 8, § 100.5; College admissions requirements: New York State Education Department, Office of College and University Evaluation (OCUE) Institutional Accreditation Self-Study Guide, Standards: Administration

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