Georgia 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 Georgia aligns its policies to promote smooth transitions for students through high school and beyond.  


College and Career Readiness Definitions

The level of achievement required in order for a student to enroll in two- or four-year colleges and universities and technical colleges without remediation, fully prepared for college-level work and careers. This means that all students graduate from high school with both rigorous content knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge.


College and Career Planning in K-12

State policy requires the completion of individual student graduation plans by the end of eighth grade, and the completion of specific student advisement activities in each high school grade. For instance, students learn about dual enrollment opportunities to help in the development of a college and career plan. is a statewide portal that provides access to online resources for students and their families to help them plan, apply and pay for college.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Students must complete at least 23 units to earn a regular high school diploma. 



Required Courses




Grade 9 Literature and Composition

American Literature and Composition

Third English

Fourth English

AP or IB equivalent courses



Math I or GPS Algebra

Math II or GPS Geometry

Math III or Advanced Algebra

Fourth Math

AP, IB, dual enrollment or *other math courses aligned to GPS or CCGPS




Physical Science or Physics

Chemistry, Earth Systems, Environmental Science

Fourth science

AP or IB equivalent course

Social Studies


U.S. History

World History

1/2 Credit American Government/ Civics

1/2 Credit Economics

AP or IB equivalent course

Health and Physical Education 


Students shall combine one-half or one-third units of credit from the following courses: Health, Personal Fitness, or Advanced Personal Fitness

Districts may waive this requirement for students who earn three credits in JROTC if the courses include health and physical education curriculum requirements as outlined in state board rule.

Career and Technical Education; modern language/ Latin; or fine arts


Students choose one of three areas:


Foreign Language*

Fine Arts

Districts may award foreign language credit to students whose native language is not English.

Students are encouraged to select courses in a focused area of interest.




Fourth science may substitute as an elective credit.

Total Credits


*Students planning on attending college need to take two years of the same foreign language.

Assessment Requirements

Schools administer Georgia Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) exams in eight associated courses across four subjects, including:

  • English Language Arts: Grade 9 Literature and Composition, American Literature and Composition
  • Math: Coordinate Algebra, Analytic Geometry
  • Science: Biology, Physical Science
  • Social studies: U.S. History, Economics

Each exam counts for 20 percent of the final course grade. Middle grades students who take high school courses also sit for EOCs.


Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Competency-Based Credit

State law and State Board of Education rules allow students to receive high school credit based on demonstrated competency on several state and national exams, including high school End of Course (EOC) exams, AP, CLEP, and industry certifications. Students can earn no more than three units of credit according to Georgia Code JBC(4) Section (2)(f).

Career and Technical Education

The Georgia Department of Education offers Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) across 17 career clusters in alignment with the National Career Cluster model. Students who have successfully complete three or four courses in a particular pathway, or who are on course to do so, can participate in the End of Pathway Assessment Program through which students can earn a national-, state- and/or industry-recognized credential.

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Senate Bill 132 streamlined previous dual enrollment programs into the Move on When Ready Program. MOWR allows eligible high school students the option of enrolling in college-level coursework and receiving both high school and postsecondary credit. Courses may be taken through MOWR, online, and/or at the high school. Students may participate part- or full-time and the program will pay for up to 15 semester hours or 12 quarter hours until the student has satisfied all the secondary graduation requirements. Financial assistance is provided for tuition, fee and book charges, but students may be responsible for some of the costs associated with their postsecondary courses.

Institutions are responsible for establishing their own Move on When Ready/dual enrollment admission requirements, although the Board of Regents has set minimum requirements:

  • Minimum SAT score of 970 or composite ACT score of 20
  • Exemption of all learning support requirements
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • On track to meet high school graduation requirements
  • Completed Student Participation Agreement

The joint enrollment option provides students, typically in grades 11 and 12, with the opportunity to enroll in postsecondary courses, provided they meet college entrance requirements, while completing high school graduation requirements. Enrolled students do not receive high school credit for college courses and are typically responsible for their own tuition and fees.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

Georgia does not have common score requirements for Advanced Placement or College Level Examination Program tests. Students who score at a 3, 4 or 5 level on AP exams may be able to earn college credit.

Early College High Schools

The Early College Initiative, a partnership between the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education, allows students to earn a high school diploma and credit toward an associate or bachelor’s degree. Most early colleges operate with the objective to increase high school graduation and college-going rates of traditionally underserved students. There are currently ten Early Colleges in Georgia.

Early High School Graduation

Move on When Ready provides an early graduation option. To receive an early high school diploma, students must receive credit for all EOCT courses: two English, two math, two sciences, two social studies, and the required PE and Health course. Students must also complete all EOC exams, which count as 20 percent of the corresponding course grade. Finally, students must complete either an associate degree, technical diploma, or two certificate programs within one specific career pathway.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The University System of Georgia (USG) contains community colleges and universities. High school diploma requirements are identical for all system institutions, but minimum admissions criteria vary by institution type. The system authorizes institutions to enroll a small number of students under the Limited Admissions category.

High School Diploma Admission Requirements

Subjects Credits Course Requirements
Math 4 Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and fourth unit at Algebra II level or higher
English 4 Literature integrated with grammar, usage and advanced composition skills
Science 4 Two courses with laboratory component; Georgia public high school students should have at least one unit of biology, one unit of physical science or physics, one unit of chemistry, earth systems, environmental science, or an advanced placement course, and a 4th science.
Social Studies 3 One unit related to American studies and one unit focusing on world studies
Foreign Language 2 Two units of the same language. American Sign Language and Computer Science satisfy this requirement.
Total 17  

Minimum SAT/ACT Scores

Test Math English/Reading
  Four-Year Two-Year Four-Year Two-Year
ACT 17 14 17 12
SAT 400 310 430 330
New SAT 22 18 24 19

The system sets minimum admission cut scores based on the Freshman Index (FI)—a composite score based on students’ SAT or ACT score and high school GPA.

  • SAT Formula: (500 x High School GPA in required courses) + SAT Critical Reading + SAT Math
  • ACT Formula: (500 x High School GPA in required courses) + (ACT Composite x 42) + 88
  • Freshman Index Thresholds: Research Universities (2500), Regional Universities (2040), State Universities (1940), State Colleges (1830)

Programs Leading to a Baccalaureate Degree

Other admission requirements for baccalaureate programs vary by institution type. Students seeking admission to system universities must have a minimum SAT critical reading score of 430 and a math score of 400 (after March 2016 an SAT reading score of 24 and math score of 22) or an ACT English score of 17 and ACT math score of 17. The system sets minimum admission cut scores based on the Freshman Index (FI)—a composite score based on students’ SAT or ACT score and high school GPA.

Programs Not Leading to a Baccalaureate Degree

Admissions requirements for career certificates and career degrees (Associate of Applied Science degrees and Associate of Science degrees in allied health areas) depend upon the extent to which the general education component is based on Core Curriculum courses. There are two sets of admissions requirements.

Programs with more than twelve (12) semester hours of Core curriculum

All applicants must have a high school diploma. At research, regional and state universities and some state colleges, applicants must achieve the institutional sector’s Freshman Index (FI) for Limited Admission and must have the sector’s minimum SAT scores. Applicants are not held to the required high school curriculum requirements, and they will not be counted among the students in the Limited Admission category.

Programs with twelve (12) or fewer semester hours of Core curriculum

Applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Graduate from an accredited high school with a minimum GPA of 1.8
  • Meet the beginning freshman required high school curriculum criteria for the institutional sector
  • Earn a GED

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Persons 16 years of age or older are eligible for admission to Georgia’s technical colleges. Applicants to technical colleges must submit proof of a high school diploma or its equivalent, unless otherwise specified by the program’s standards.


Postsecondary Placement Policies

Four-Year Institutions

The University System of Georgia has established system-wide placement policies and exemptions for four-year, two-year and technical colleges.

To be exempt from placement testing in English (reading/writing) a student must

  • score 430 SAT Critical Reading or higher; OR
  • score 17 ACT English or higher; OR
  • score at or above the advanced proficiency level on the Georgia High School Graduation Test – English Language Arts (Consult the GHAGT Concordance Chart on the Student Affairs Resource page); AND
  • have met the Required High School Curriculum requirement in English.

To be exempt from placement testing in Mathematics a student must

  • score of 400 SAT-Mathematics or higher; OR
  • score of 17 ACT- Mathematics or higher; AND
  • have met the Required High School Curriculum requirement in mathematics.

Institutions may set higher scores or require additional measures for screening and placement into Learning Support courses. Students who meet the institution’s admission standards for programs leading to baccalaureate degrees are exempted from further placement testing.

For those students who are not exempt, a Mathematics Placement Index and an English Placement Index are calculated based on high school grade point average, SAT or ACT and, when indicated, the COMPASS placement test or other approved placement test.

Indices are then calculated using one of the following four procedures:

  1. High school grade point average and SAT or ACT
  2. High school grade point average and COMPASS – if SAT or ACT are not available
  3. SAT or ACT and COMPASS – when high school grade point average is not available
  4. COMPASS – when neither high school grade point average nor SAT or ACT is available

Indices are compared to the state placement cuts to determine placement. Students with placement indices that are less than the minimum state placement index for that subject are placed into co-requisite or Foundations-level Learning Support. For more detailed information, please see the University System of Georgia Academic Affairs Handbook 2.9.1 Administrative Procedures for Learning Support Programs.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Technical colleges may accept a student’s official entrance score on a validated assessment instrument such as SAT or ACT if the scores meet the college program’s required minimums or a GED score of 165 or higher on English or Math.

If a student’s SAT or ACT scores do not meet the college’s program minimums for regular admission, a student must be assessed using ACCUPLACER or COMPANION when evaluating students’ readiness for diploma, degree and certificate programs.

Students who do not meet all requirements for regular admission into a selected program are granted provisional admission status. Provisionally admitted students may take learning support classes, and certain specified occupational courses until class pre- and co-requisites are satisfied.


State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

The state lottery funds the merit-based HOPE Program.

Georgia residents graduating with regular diplomas may receive HOPE Scholarships by earning a minimum high school grade-point average of 3.0 in core academic subjects. College students may earn a HOPE scholarship if they have a qualifying GPA of 3.0 at the 30, 60, or 90 semester hour milestones. Recipients must maintain a 3.0 college GPA to remain eligible for the HOPE scholarship.

The Zell Miller Scholarship awards aid to students who (1) graduate from HOPE-qualifying high schools as the class valedictorian or salutatorian or (2) possess a minimum 3.7 GPA with 1200 SAT (26 ACT). The Zell Miller Scholarship varies based on institution and whether the student attends college part time or full time. Recipients must maintain a 3.3 college GPA to retain the scholarship.

Current seniors who apply for the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships must complete four full credits from any of following Academic Rigor categories: advanced math, science, foreign language, or special core-academic courses (i.e., Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Dual Enrollment courses).

Students may receive either a HOPE or a Zell Miller Scholarship, but not both. Students who become academically ineligible for either scholarship have only one chance to regain it. Neither scholarship covers textbooks or institutional fees. Students may receive aid until they complete 127 credit hours, earn a baccalaureate degree, or seven years have elapsed since high school graduation.

Students enrolled certificate and diploma programs at public institutions may receive the HOPE Grant if they earned a minimum high school GPA of 2.0.

Students may earn the Zell Miller Grant to pursue certificate or diploma programs at eligible public postsecondary institutions. To retain the grant, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA at the end of each term.

HOPE and Zell Miller grant recipients may also be eligible for the HOPE Career Grant, which provides prorated aid for students pursuing credentials in one of 12 eligible career fields.

All aid amounts, except for the HOPE Career Grant, vary based on institution that students are attending and the number of credit-hours for which they are enrolled. 


Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

The Georgia Department of Education, through the Statewide Longitudinal Data System, releases annual feedback reports to high schools including information about their graduates’ postsecondary enrollment within and outside the state of Georgia, choice of major, and required remediation rates. This information is further disaggregated by subgroup.