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 (Algebra I and higher)
Notes/Citation: Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall be at or above the level of algebra and shall include at least two course selections from among: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, or other mathematics courses above the level of algebra and geometry. The board may approve additional courses to satisfy this requirement."
Social studies units (Std.) 3

Notes/Citation: Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include U.S. and Virginia History, U.S. and Virginia Government, and one world history/geography course.

Science units (Std.) 3 lab science

Notes/Citation: 3 units laboratory science. "Courses completed to satisfy this requirement shall include course selections from at least two different science disciplines: earth sciences, biology, chemistry, or physics."

P.E./Health units (Std.) 2

Notes/Citation: 2 units "health and physical education."

Arts (Std.) See notes

Notes/Citation: 1 unit "fine or performing arts or career and technical education"

Foreign language (Std.) 0
Electives units (Std.) 6

Notes/Citation: Must include at least two sequential electives.

Other units (Std.) See notes

Notes/Citation: 1 unit "fine or performing arts or career and technical education"

TOTAL # units (Std.) 22
Other diploma options State offers honors/college prep and technical curriculum options. State offers proficiency-based credit option.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) This section of the database deals only with Carnegie unit requirements and does not include the "verified units of credit" (end-of-course test) requirements.
8 VA. ADMIN. CODE § 20-131-50; VA. CODE ANN. § 22.1-253.13:4
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. The state board is required to "Establish a procedure to facilitate the acceleration of students that allows qualified students, with the recommendation of the division superintendent, without completing the 140-hour class, to obtain credit for such class upon demonstration of mastery of the course content and objectives. Having received credit for the course, the student shall be permitted to sit for the relevant Standards of Learning assessment and, upon receiving a passing score, shall earn a verified credit. Nothing in this section shall preclude relevant school division personnel from enforcing compulsory attendance in public schools...."
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: VA. CODE ANN. § 22.1-253.13:4
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: 8 VA. ADMIN. CODE § 20-131-50; College admissions requirements: VA. CODE ANN. § 23-9.6:1

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