Alabama – High School to College & Careers


High School Graduation Requirements for 2016-17

Course and Diploma Requirements

Alabama provides students with multiple paths to the state’s single high school diploma. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, all ninth-grade students must earn 24 credits — 21.5 of which are required. However, students can pursue various paths to the single diploma by substituting some of the required credits with credits from Career Technical Education, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Postsecondary credits through dual enrollment or other state-approved courses.

Graduation Requirements for Current Juniors and Seniors

Students must complete at least 24 units to earn a regular high school diploma. Students may choose to complete a diploma with academic or career and technical education endorsements. Regardless of the paths that students choose, they must complete four units each in core subjects (English, math, science and social studies), one unit of physical education and a half unit of health. Students must take three units of either foreign language or career or technical education or arts education. Two and half credits of electives complete the 24 credit requirement.

Subjects Diploma
English 4
Mathematics 4
Science 4
Social Studies 4
Physical Education 1
Health 0.5
Career Preparedness 1
Foreign Language or Career and Technical Education or Arts Education 3
Electives 2.5
Assessment Requirements

The Alabama Department of Education administers ACT battery of assessments.

Grades ACT Assessment
10 Plan
11 ACT
12 WorkKeys
8 to 12 ACT Quality Core End-of-Course Assessments in English 10 and Algebra I

College and Career Readiness

The Alabama State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in October 2010. The state implemented the standards for the first time during the 2013-14 school year. The board has partnered with ACT to deliver assessments aligned with the Common Core.

Plan 2020, Alabama’s education strategic plan, requires the state department of education to develop a unified pre-K to 12 plan for college and career readiness. The plan articulates several interdependent strategies to increase student readiness levels, including (1) adoption of college and career standards; (2) delivery of aligned assessments; (3) setting clear and ambitious performance targets, and (4) adapting school accountability to facilitate improvement.

The Alabama Department of Education is developing the Plan 2020 Accountability Model, which will hold schools accountable to several indicators, including student achievement, learning gains, achievement gap closing, college and career readiness, and high school graduation.

College and Career Planning

Eighth-grade students develop a four-year high school plan based on the results of the ACT Explore and a career interest assessment. To graduate high school, students must complete the new career preparedness course. The course curriculum includes three sections: career and academic planning, computer applications, and financial literacy.

ALCareerTech is a portal that provides access to online resources for students and their families to help them explore and plan for careers, technical education or college. More information is available at

Alabama offers an assessment-based credential to job seekers with at least a GED. Individuals may earn the Alabama Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), which the state awards at four levels: bronze, silver, gold or platinum. The CRC indicates to employers what degree of employable skills the applicant possesses. The CRC program is administered through the ACT WorkKeys program and is offered in partnership with the Alabama Community College System, the Alabama Career Center System and the Office of Workforce Development.

Accelerated Learning Options

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

High school sophomores, juniors and seniors may participate in dual credit opportunities. Students participating in dual enrollment must have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher and meet admission test criteria set by the institutions. Students who are pursuing dual enrollment courses in occupational or technical programs generally must maintain a 3.0 GPA in program-related courses and a 2.5 GPA overall. Students must have the approval of parents and high school officials.

Early College Enrollment Program

This dual-enrollment program allows high school students to earn college credit toward the completion of degrees or certificates aligned to local, state or regional workforce needs. The two curriculum tracks are for career and technical and health programs.

Early College High Schools

The Selma Early College High School allows high school students to graduate high school with up to 60 hours of college credit.

Advanced Placement

The Alabama Community College Systems requires institutions to accept a score of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement and award elective or general education credit toward an associate degree.

Career and Technical Education

The State Department of Education provides more than 215 courses in the following fields: agricultural science, business and marketing, family and consumer science, health science and career technologies.

Postsecondary Admissions and Placement

Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Common, statewide admissions and placement requirements do not exist for four-year institutions. Institutional governing boards set admission requirements.

Alabama Community College System

For admission to associate degree programs, students must show they have completed a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Students applying to vocational programs must demonstrate an ability to benefit from instruction.

The system requires institutions to use scores on the test (or ASSET when the COMPASS is unavailable) to assess students for placement into college-level courses. Students can exempt placement with minimum scores on the math, verbal/reading and writing sections of the SAT (470 or above on each section) and ACT (20 or above on each section). The table below summarizes placement cut scores.

Course/Subject COMPASS ASSET
Reading 65 36
Academic Writing 62 42
Career-Technical English 38 38
Math ​• 36 on Pre-Algebra section
​• 28 on Algebra section
​• 38 on Numerical Skills section
​• 37 on Elementary Algebra section

Feedback Reports

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education provides feedback reports on the postsecondary enrollment and success of recent high school graduates. The Commission tracks the feeder high schools for each public two-and four-year college. Each high school also receives a report that includes the number of students taking remedial courses.

State Financial Aid

The Alabama Student Grant Program provides up to $1,200 annually for students attending nonpublic institutions. The Alabama Student Assistance Program (ASAP) provides need-based grants to students. Annual awards range from $300 to $5,000. To receive initial and renewal ASAP grants, students submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. Students with qualifying Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) may use the reward at nearly 80 postsecondary institutions in Alabama.

Special Thanks

SREB would like to thank the staff at the following agencies for their assistance in carefully reviewing and confirming the accuracy of the policies and programs described in this document:

Alabama Commission on Higher Education

Alabama State Department of Education


Alabama Commission on Higher Education
Alabama Community College System
Alabama State Department of Education
Alabama Career and Technical Education