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

Districts must provide certain career advisement activities to middle grades students, including exploration of academic skills and career interests. State regulation requires that these advisement activities lead to the completion of individual student graduation plans by the end of eighth grade. The graduation plans describe specific student advisement activities for each high school grade. For example, students learn about dual enrollment opportunities to help in the development of a college and career plan. Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, high school guidance activities included “providing career-oriented aptitude guidance.” 

The University System of Georgia administers the GEAR UP program. It provides support for students through their middle grades and high school years and into the first year of college and offers services such as academic support, college and career exposure, guidance in selecting high school courses, and financial aid counseling. The first model, or “Cohort Strategy,” is for seventh and eighth grade students and “high priority” students. The second model, or “Priority Strategy,” targets students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade who have either been homeless or in the foster care system. 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 Students Entering the Ninth Grade in 2008 and Beyond

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



Required Courses




Ninth-Grade Literature and Composition

American Literature and Composition

Two additional English courses

AP, IB, or other concurrent courses

The Writing, Conventions, and Listening, Speaking and Viewing strands of the Georgia Performance Standards shall be taught in sequence in grades 9-12. 



Math I or GPS Algebra

Math II or GPS Geometry

Math III or GPS Advanced Algebra

One additional math course

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

Fourth science credit may be used to meet both the science and elective requirements.
AP/IB equivalent

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 are encouraged to focus on one of the following areas of interest: career and technical education, foreign language, or fine arts.

CTAE credits must be taken in a coherent sequence on a pathway leading to a career readiness certificate endorsed by related industries.

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

American Sign Language may be taken to fulfill the modern language requirement.




Fourth science may substitute as an elective credit.

Total Credits


AP means Advanced Placement courses; IB means International Baccalaureate courses; CTE means Career and Technical course.
Unit credit is only awarded only for courses that include concepts and skills based on the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) or Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) for grades 9-12 or those approved by the State Board of Education

Assessment Requirements

Schools administer Georgia Milestones End-of-Course tests in eight associated courses across four subjects, including:

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

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


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 provision.

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  

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) + 1.06 x (SAT Critical Reading + SAT Math) – 74
  • 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)
  • System regulation authorizes presidents of state colleges to establish a minimum Freshman Index score.

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 evidence-based reading and writing score of 480 and a math score of 440 or an ACT English score of 17 and ACT math score of 17.

Programs Not Leading to a Baccalaureate Degree

Admissions requirements for career certificates and career degrees (i.e., 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, a qualifying Freshman Index score, and minimum SAT score. Individuals admitted to career programs do not have to meet the high school curriculum requirements for students enrolled in baccalaureate programs.

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

University System of Georgia

The Board of Regents has established system-wide placement policies and exemptions for community colleges and four-year institutions.

To be exempt from placement testing in English (reading/writing), students must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completed Area A English course with grade of “C” or higher
  • English Placement Index of 4230 or higher
  • High School grade-point average of 3.1 or higher and completion of required high school curriculum in English
  • Score of 480 SAT or higher on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section
  • Score of 17 ACT or higher on the English or Reading subtest higher
  • Score of 61 or higher on Classic Accuplacer (237 or higher on Next-Generation Accuplacer) Reading Comprehension Test and score 4 or higher on the WritePlacer

To be exempt from placement testing in Mathematics a student must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Complete Area A mathematics course with grade of “C” or higher
  • Placed into pre-calculus or higher math course
  • Math Placement Index of 1265 or higher
  • High School GPA of 3.4 or higher and completion of required high school curriculum in mat;
  • Score of 510 or higher on the SAT math section
  • Score of 20 or higher on the ACT math subtest
  • Score of 79 or higher on Classic Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test
  • Score of 266 or higher on Next-Generation Accuplacer Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics test

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.

Institutions may calculate a Mathematics Placement Index and an English Placement Index based on high school grade point average, SAT or ACT and, when indicated, the Classic Accuplacer placement test.

Institutions place students who do not meet placement thresholds into co-requisite, Learning Support courses. For more detailed information, please see the University System of Georgia Academic Affairs Handbook 2.9.1 Administrative Procedures for Learning Support Programs.

Technical College System of Georgia

System policy requires technical colleges to assess students’ readiness to enter academic programs of study. Institutions may accept a student’s official entrance score on several validated assessment instruments, including the SAT, ACT, GED, Accuplacer, COMPASS, or Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Colleges may also use high school GPA and documentation of certain work experiences to exempt students from placement testing.   

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 they satisfy program pre- and co-requisites.


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). Recipients must maintain a 3.3 college GPA to retain the scholarship.

Current high school 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 (10 years for all financial aid awards conferred after Summer 2019).

Students enrolled in 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. No minimum high school GPA is required. However, 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 a qualifying career field.

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 Governor’s Office of Student Achievement releases High School Graduate Outcome reports to high schools including the percentage of graduates enrolled in a postsecondary experience, the percentage requiring English or math remediation (public colleges only), and the percentage earning a postsecondary degree or certificate within five years.