Alabama Readiness Policies


High School and Postsecondary Alignment

SREB’s Challenge to Lead 2020 goals call for states to align middle grades and high school policies with college-readiness standards, to recognize multiple paths to graduation and to provide students with diverse postsecondary options and resources. The following tabs summarize how Alabama aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  


College and Career Readiness Definitions

Alabama defines a college- and career-ready graduate as a student who possesses the knowledge and skills needed to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing, first-year courses in a two- or four-year college, trade school, or technical school without the need for remediation and possesses the ability to apply core academic skills to real-world situations through collaboration with peers in problem solving, utilizing precision and punctuality in delivery of a product, and demonstrating the desire to be a life-long learner.


College and Career Planning in K-12

Eighth-grade students develop a four-year plan that includes the electives and credit-eligible courses that they will take during high school that align with their postsecondary aspirations. After reaching high school, students develop their academic/career planning portfolio and revise it annually. The Alabama Career Planning System allows students to explore career clusters and interests, take career assessments and receive assistance from Career and Technical Education Career Coaches. The Alabama Department of Education’s Counseling and Guidance Office is situated within the larger Office of Career and Technical Education and plays a significant role in the state’s student support systems.

To graduate from high school, students must complete a one-unit career preparedness course that incorporates instruction, academic and career planning, financial literacy, and technology.

In 2014, the University of Alabama at Birmingham began administering the federally funded GEAR UP Alabama that serves the Black Belt region, covering 42 schools across 21 school systems to prepare low-income early, middle and high-school students for college and to create or expand programs that strengthen schools.

Alabama also implemented an electronic graduation tracking system that allows local districts, in conjunction with each school’s Response to Instruction team, to use data on achievement, attendance and behavior to identify students who may need additional support services.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Students Entering the Ninth Grade in 2022 and Beyond

Alabama provides students with multiple paths to the state’s single high school diploma. All students must earn 24 credits — 21.5 of which are a required course of study. However, students can pursue an Alabama High School Diploma through multiple pathways by substituting some of the required credits with credits from career and technical education, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, postsecondary credits through dual enrollment or other state-approved courses. Each student is required to have a four-year graduation plan.

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, career or technical education or arts education. Two and a half credits of electives complete the 24-credit requirement. Finally, to be eligible to graduate, students must complete one online/technology-enhanced course or experience unless exceptions have been approved through Individualized Education Plans.

Effective with the graduating class of 2022, all students must submit the FAFSA or certify a non-participation waiver to the superintendent of the local education agency. 



Required Courses

Notes and Substitutions



English 9-12

AP, IB, postsecondary, or other SDE-approved courses



Algebra I


Algebra II with Trigonometry or Algebra II

Fourth math

Substitutions may include: AP, IB, postsecondary, or other SDE-approved courses

Fourth math-credit eligible courses from CTE, AP, IB, postsecondary or other SDE-approved courses




A physical science

Two other rigorous science courses

Science-credit eligible courses from CTE, AP, IB, postsecondary or other SDE-approved courses

Social Studies


World History 

U.S. History I and II

1/2 Credit U.S. Government  

1/2 Credit Economics

AP, IB, postsecondary, or other SDE-approved courses

History courses must be taken in this order. U.S. Government and Economics courses are to be taken after the history courses, but not necessarily in any given sequence.

Social studies-credit eligible courses from CTE, AP, IB, postsecondary or other SDE-approved courses

Physical Education  


Lifelong Individualized  Fitness

JROTC or Beginning Kinesiology

Health Education




Career Preparedness


Career and academic planning, computer applications, financial literacy


CTE/ Foreign Language/ Arts Education




2 1/2


Total Credits


All students are required to complete one online/technology-enhanced course.
AP means Advanced Placement courses; IB means International Baccalaureate courses; CTE means Career and Technical course.
SDE means State Department of Education

Assessment Requirements

High school students take ACT assessments or an Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program alternative. Tenth-grade students are required to take the Pre-ACT in four different subject areas: reading, math, English, and science. Eleventh-grade students are required to take the ACT with Writing in the same four different subject areas. Grade 12 students have the option to take the ACT WorkKeys in three subject areas: graphic literacy, workplace documents and applied math. The ACT WorkKeys taken by grade 12 students may be substituted with an “evidence collected or locally created” assessment. Students are also required to pass the Civics Test in the United States Government class.


Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Career and Technical Education

Alabama’s Career and Technical Education Program is aligned with the National Career Clusters Framework. The Alabama State Department of Education, Division of Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development is the only state agency in the United States to earn an international certification for its CTE program quality management. It uses the Business and Industry Certification tool to evaluate and improve CTE standards throughout the state.

In October 2017, the Alabama Community College System approved a statewide articulation agreement for certain career and technical education courses. Students seeking articulated credit must have received a C or higher in the 10th-, 11th-, or 12th-grade course for which they are seeking credit. Students must be accepted to the college from which they will receive articulated credit and must apply for the credit no later than 20 months after they graduate from high school.

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Alabama’s Dual Enrollment for Dual Credit program allows students in grades 10-12 to receive both high school and college credit for certain courses taken through the Alabama Community College System. Students enrolling in the dual enrollment program must have a “B” average (or a minimum unweighted cumulative GPA of 2.5) and meet admission test criteria set by the two-year institution.

The Alabama Community College System provides students with the Alabama Transfers Guide, a credit-transfer resource that allows students to check if their earned dual enrollment credits will transfer to the college they plan to attend.

Only college-level (not remedial) courses are eligible for dual-enrollment credit. To maintain their dual enrollment status, students must achieve grades of C or better in all attempted college courses. Students must have written approval from high school officials to be eligible to enroll in the program. Students receive one high school credit for each three-semester-hour college-level course.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

The Alabama Community College System authorizes institutions to award credit for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. Credit awarded through non-traditional means should not exceed 25% of total credit hours required to receive an associate degree. 

For students with financial need, the College Board contributes $32 toward an AP exam fee, schools waive their $9 administrative fee, and the Alabama State Department of Education pays the final testing fee of $53 per exam. The Alabama State Department of Education covers the full cost ($119) of IB exams for low-income students.

The Alabama State Department of Education administers the A+ College Ready Program to help students in grades 6-12 prepare for the rigor of college and/or careers after high school by encouraging enrollment in challenging coursework, with a focus on AP mathematics, science, English, social studies and computer science courses.

Early College Enrollment

Early College Enrollment is a dual enrollment program in which career and technical education students earn dual credit under State Board of Education Policy 801.03 and 801.04. Students must meet various eligibility requirements, depending on the institution of higher education, which may include meeting the institution’s minimum placement testing scores, having a 3.0 or B average in high school, maintaining a C average on college courses, or meeting the prerequisites of any college courses in which a student wishes to enroll. Scholarship opportunities may be available to students who meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the dual enrollment program.

College Credit by Examination

The University of Alabama offers credit by examination that can be earned through satisfactory completion of certain standardized national exams, including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, College Level Examination Program, and General Certificate of Education Advanced and Advanced Subsidiary Level exams. Credits earned through examination do not qualify as institutional coursework, so examination credits must not exceed half of the credits required to complete a bachelor’s degree, nor do they count towards the quarter of credits that must be earned at The University of Alabama.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

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

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

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


Postsecondary Placement Policies

Four-Year Institutions

Common, statewide placement requirements do not exist for four-year institutions. Instead, institutional governing boards set placement requirements.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

The Alabama Community College System encourages but does not require its institutions to use the ACCUPLACER to assess students for placement into credit-bearing college courses.

Institutions may exempt students from placement tests if students achieve satisfactory scores — as set by each institution — on the ACT or SAT.


State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

Merit-Based Aid


Need-Based Aid

The Alabama Student Assistance Program provides need-based aid awards of $300 to $5,000 per academic year. Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year. Recipients with qualifying Expected Family Contributions may use the reward at nearly 80 participating postsecondary institutions in Alabama.


The Alabama Student Grant Program provides up to $3,000 annually for students attending nonpublic institutions within the state of Alabama and does not require applicants to demonstrate academic merit or financial need.

The CollegeCounts Scholarship provides $2,000 for two-year and $4,000 for four-year college enrollees. Students must be an Alabama resident, planning on enrolling in an Alabama eligible education institution, have a 2.75 GPA or higher, have an ACT score of 26 or below and demonstrate financial need. This is one-time, non-renewable scholarship awarded in the first academic year.


Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

Ala. Code § 16-5-7(7) requires the Commission on Higher Education to provide feedback reports to high schools using data collected through the Statewide Student Unit Record Data System. The reports include enrollment and remediation rates for 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.