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.) 2

Notes/Citation: Must include "instruction in the properties, processes, and symbols of arithmetic and elements of algebra, geometry, and statistics."

Social studies units (Std.) 3

Notes/Citation: Must include instruction in state and local government.

Science units (Std.) 2

Notes/Citation: Must include "instruction in the biological sciences and physical sciences." A student must be awarded science credit for each agriculture course the department of education has determined qualifies as science according to department-established criteria.

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

Notes/Citation: Includes 1.5 units p.e. and .5 unit health. .5 unit in health education must be earned sometime in grades 7-12.

Arts (Std.) 0
Foreign language (Std.) 0
Electives units (Std.) 0
Other units (Std.) 0

Notes/Citation: A local board may require students to "participate in community service activities" to earn a high school diploma.

TOTAL # units (Std.) 13
Notes/Citation: 13 units includes .5 unit of health education which must be earned sometime in grades 7-12. In addition to the 12.5 units set forth to be earned during grades 9-12, "the state superintendent encourages boards to require a minimum of 8.5 additional credits in vocational education, foreign languages, fine arts and other courses" (for a total of 21 units, or 21.5, including the health unit to be completed between grades 7-12).
Other diploma options State does not offer differentiated diploma pathways. State has policy on awarding proficiency-based credit.
Technical notes and citations (Std.) Every local board must establish high school graduation criteria in addition to the state-level requirements; such criteria must include students' academic performance and teachers' recommendations.
WIS. ADMIN. CODE § 18.03, WIS. STAT. § 118.33
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. A student who was enrolled in an alternative education program and who has not completed the state-specified unit requirements may receive a diploma if the local board determines that the student "has demonstrated a level of proficiency in the subjects" specified in statute "equivalent to that which he or she would have attained if he or she had" taken such courses.
Required coursework aligned with college entrance requirements No
All high school students are required to declare a major/career pathway/career focus No
Sources Proficiency-based credit: WIS. STAT. § 118.33
Alignment: High school graduation requirements: WIS. STAT. ANN. § 118.33, WIS. ADMIN. CODE § 18.03; College admissions requirements: ECS Postsecondary Governance Structures Database, University of Wisconsin System Regent Policy Document 72-11

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