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.
- 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.
Diplomas and Pathways
- Link to state website with graduation requirements.
- Has the state established multiple pathways to graduation or multiple diploma options?
- Does the state offer diploma endorsements?
Coursework and Credits
- What are the state’s course requirements for a standard diploma?
- Does the state require students to earn credit(s) in civics?
- Does the state require students to earn credit(s) in computer science?
- Does the state require students to earn credit(s) in financial literacy?
- Does the state permit students to substitute other courses, assessments or experiences for existing course requirements?
- Has the state established, or does it allow competency-based graduation requirements?
- Does the state require students to take specific assessments for graduation?
- Which assessments are required?
- Does the state permit or provide alternatives to assessment requirements?
- Does the state require FAFSA completion as a graduation requirement?
- State Education Policy Tracking (select “High School” issue and “Graduation Requirements” sub-issue)
- State Policies to Support Student-Centered Learning
- 50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability Systems
- 50-State Comparison: Secondary Career and Technical Education
- 50-State Comparison: High School Feedback Reports
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2023
RESOURCE TYPE: 50-State Comparison