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USCI High School

High School Core Classes Needed to Graduate

By: Jordin Frey

Since each state has its own education system, high school courses may vary. Most states do require a lot of the same high school classes to graduate. This ensures that all high school graduates are on even footing when they apply to colleges or look for jobs. You can earn your high school diploma with classes online or in person, as long as you complete all of the required courses.

What Are Typical High School Classes Required for Graduation?

While each state may have different local requirements, high school core classes typically include four years of English language arts, three years of math and science, and two years of social sciences. Within the core subjects, students are required to take a variety of classes. This will vary based on what the school offers.

Most states also set a minimum number of credits you must earn for your diploma. The number of credits is often higher than the credits earned in the core subjects.  This means that you'll need to take other high school classes to graduate. Some of these courses might be decided by the school, while others are electives, classes you can elect or choose to take based on your interests.

What's on a High School Courses List?

Schools offer a variety of different high school courses. And what are typical high school classes in one district or state might be uncommon elsewhere. Not every school offers every course on the following list, but most schools have a few of them that students can choose from.


  • American literature
  • British literature
  • Contemporary literature
  • Creative writing
  • Communication skills
  • Debate
  • English language and composition
  • English literature and composition
  • Poetry
  • Rhetoric
  • Shakespeare's works
  • Technical writing
  • World literature
  • Written and oral communication

Foreign Language

  • American Sign Language
  • Arabic
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Russian
  • Spanish


  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Consumer math
  • Fundamentals of math
  • Geometry
  • Integrated math
  • Pre-algebra
  • Pre-calculus
  • Statistics
  • Trigonometry

Performing Arts

  • Band
  • Choir
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Jazz band
  • Marching band
  • Music theory
  • Orchestra
  • Theater technology
  • World music


  • Agriculture
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Earth science
  • Environmental science
  • Forensic science
  • Geology
  • Marine biology
  • Oceanography
  • Physics
  • Zoology

Social Studies

  • Anthropology
  • Current events
  • Economics
  • European history
  • Geography
  • Global studies
  • International relations
  • Political studies
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology
  • U.S. government
  • U.S. history
  • Women's studies

Visual Arts

  • 3D art
  • Art history
  • Ceramics
  • Digital media
  • Drawing
  • Film production
  • Jewelry design
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture