Education Commission of the States is the trusted source for comprehensive knowledge and unbiased resources on education policy issues ranging from early learning through postsecondary education.


Subscribe to our publications and stay informed.

Request Assistance

Need more information? Contact one of our policy experts.

50-State Comparison: High School Graduation Requirements

Nearly all states have established minimum credit and course requirements to earn a standard diploma, but graduation requirements may also serve to assess specific skills and content knowledge prioritized by the state, evaluate college and career readiness, or offer multiple pathways to a diploma. Graduation requirements set a minimum standard for a student’s academic experience in high school, and state policymakers can use graduation requirement policy as a lever to increase flexibility for school districts to support personalized opportunities for students or prioritize certain knowledge and skills needed for success in college, career and civic life.

This resource provides a national comparison of state policies addressing graduation requirements, including pathways, diploma types and endorsements, course and assessment requirements, as well as non-course requirements and flexibilities for students and schools. Information in this comparison was gathered from statute, regulation, and state agency guidance and resources.

Key Takeaways

  • At least 21 states have identified multiple diploma options or pathways to graduation in state policy.
  • At least 46 states and the District of Columbia identify minimum credit requirements to earn a standard diploma.
  • At least 44 states and the District of Columbia permit students to substitute specific courses, assessments or other experiences for existing credit requirements.
  • At least 34 states require students to complete specific assessments as a graduation requirement.

Click on a question below to see data for all states. To view a specific state’s approach, go to the State Profiles page.

50-State Comparisons

Diplomas And Pathways

  1. Link to state website with graduation requirements.  
  2. Has the state established multiple pathways to graduation or multiple diploma options?  
  3. Does the state offer diploma endorsements?  

Coursework And Credits

  1. What are the state’s course requirements for a standard diploma?  
  2. Does the state require students to earn credit(s) in civics?  
  3. Does the state require students to earn credit(s) in computer science?  
  4. Does the state require students to earn credit(s) in financial literacy?  
  5. Does the state permit students to substitute other courses, assessments or experiences for existing course requirements?

Non-Course Requirements

  1. Has the state established, or does it allow competency-based graduation requirements?   
  2. Does the state require students to take specific assessments for graduation?  
  3. Which assessments are required?
  4. Does the state permit or provide alternatives to assessment requirements? 
  5.   Does the state require FAFSA completion as a graduation requirement?   

All Data Points For All States.

Related Resources


May 23, 2023

Education Level:

Resource Type:

More on This Issue

Copyright 2024 / Education Commission of the States. All rights reserved.