State-by-State Graduation Requirements (Class of 2015)

Monday, November 7, 2016Printer-friendly version

Picture of a Graduation.

Readiness for college and careers depends in part on mastery of rigorous knowledge and skills in core academic disciplines including ELA/literacy, mathematics, history, civics, sciences, art, and music. Content knowledge and skills in mathematics and ELA/literacy are foundational to the study of all other disciplines and high school graduates are often asked to demonstrate competency in these subjects before they can begin further student (at two- and four-year colleges), enter certain job training/apprenticeship programs, or pursue the military career of their choice. To be prepared for any of these postsecondary opportunities, students need to take at least three years of mathematics (through the content generally found in an Algebra II or an integrated third year math course) and four years of rigorous, grade-level English.

This Excel file is a list of states’ graduation requirements for each diploma offered. States define diplomas and graduation requirements differently, including offering only one diploma, multiple diplomas, or multiple courses of study (course requirements) leading to one diploma. The following requirements do not include any performance acknowledgements or Move on When Ready options that a state may offer, nor any certificates of achievement or other offerings for students with disabilities.

States approach units of credit differently with some states defining student requirements by units, courses, years, or hours. The default assumption is that one unit equals one year of credit. However, in some states, for example, six units in math may be defined as one unit equaling one semester of credit. In this instance, a student would complete two units a year (over the course of two semesters) and therefore 3 units or years of credit before graduating.

Local education agencies have the authority to, and often do, add additional graduation requirements to the minimum state requirements to earn a diploma. Too, in some cases, while the state does not specify courses, the state does require certain assessments of all students. For additional information on diploma classifications and further analysis, see How The States Got Their Rates, Class of 2015 (