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 (see notes)
Notes/Citation: Must include at least 1 unit Algebra 1, Math for Technology II or Integrated Mathematics I (but not more than one of these). University Prep: "two credits in Algebra II, Geometry, or other advanced mathematics course or ... 2 credits in Integrated Mathematics II and Integrated Mathematics III." According to the Tennessee Department of Education Web site, the Class of 2009 "must also complete one of the following: Algebra II, Geometry, Integrated Math II, or Technical Geometry."
Social studies units (Std.) 3

Notes/Citation: Must include U.S. history, world history/world geography, economics and government.

Science units (Std.) 3

Notes/Citation: Must include 1 unit Biology I, Biology for Technology or the equivalent in an integrated curriculum. 1 unit must be "drawn from the physical sciences" and all sciences courses must "include laboratory experiences."

P.E./Health units (Std.) 1

Notes/Citation: 1 unit "wellness" must "integrate concepts from the areas of health and physical fitness."

Arts (Std.) See notes

Notes/Citation: University Prep: 1 unit "fine arts"; Technical Prep: 0

Foreign language (Std.) See notes

Notes/Citation: University Prep: 2 in same language; Technical Prep: 0

Electives units (Std.) See notes

Notes/Citation: University Prep: 3; Technical Prep: 2

Other units (Std.) See notes

Notes/Citation: University Prep: 0; Technical Prep: 4 units of "program of study focusing on a particular technical area." Both University Prep and Technical Prep: Districts must verify "that all graduating seniors have had the equivalent of at least one year (180 hours) of computer education during their K-12 tenure. However, no units of computer education specified in 20 units required for high school graduation.
TOTAL # units (Std.) 20
Other diploma options State requires all students to complete 6 units in university prep or technical prep curriculum (requirements set forth under "standard" diploma provisions). State allows students completing either curriculum option to graduate with honors based on local requirements, including achieving an overall minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. State has policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) Students must complete 14 units of a core curriculum and choose to complete an additional 6 units in either the "University Preparation Curriculum" or the "Technical Preparation Curriculum."
TENN. CODE ANN. ยง 49-6-1010; TENN. COMP. R. & REGS. 0520-1-3-.05, 0520-1-3-.06
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 No
State has policy allowing students to meet coursework requirements through proficiency Yes. "Students who have taken the equivalent of high school level courses may meet course requirements in accordance with local board of education policies permitting credit by [written] examination." However, "high school credit may not be given by examination in American History." Local boards may also adopt policies allowing students to earn up to 2 units "for out-of-school experiences which are not work-based learning. Such policies shall conform to the Guide for Out-of-School Experiences when developed by the Department of Education and approved by the State Board of Education." "A student who completes an approved supervised occupational education program consisting of at least 180 hours will be given one-half credit as an out-of-school experience."
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 Proficiency-based credit: TENN. COMP. R. & REGS. 0520-1-3-.06
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: TENN. COMP. R. & REGS. 0520-1-3-.05 and -.06; College admissions requirements: Rules of Tennessee Higher Education Commission section 1540-1-2-.12

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