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


College and Career Readiness Definitions

College- and career-readiness includes mastery of rigorous content knowledge and the abilities to apply that knowledge through higher-order skills to demonstrate success in college and careers. This includes the ability to think critically and solve problems, communicate effectively, work collaboratively, and be self-directed in the learning process. More specifically, a student who is college- and career-ready should: be prepared to succeed in credit-bearing postsecondary introductory general education courses or in industry certification programs without needing remediation; be competent in the Skills for Success (SFS) (includes learning, thinking, communication, technology, and interpersonal skills.); have identified potential career goal(s) and understand the steps to achieve them; and be skilled enough in communication to seek assistance as needed, including student financial assistance.


College and Career Planning in K-12

Students develop four-year high school plans of study and identify career opportunities, but Maryland State Board rules do not stipulate when students must complete specific tasks with high school counselors. The Maryland Career Development Framework provides a structured, grade-appropriate and standards-based approach to college and career exploration. The six developmental standards are: Self Awareness, Career Awareness, Career Exploration, Career Preparation, Job Seeking and Advancement, and Career Satisfaction and Transition.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Students Entering Ninth Grade in 2016 and Beyond

To earn a standard high school diploma, students must complete at least 21 credit units as well as a 75-hour service-learning experience or a locally designed program in student service that has been approved by the state superintendent. Students complete the same core curriculum requirements but have the choice to pursue an academic, advanced technology, or career-technology concentration through elective courses.



Required Courses




English I

English II

English III

English IV

AP, IB, and dual enrollment
four credits of organized instruction in comprehension of literary and informational text, writing, speaking and listening, language and literacy. 



Algebra I


One additional math course

AP, IB and dual enrollment



Three science courses which include a laboratory component

Credits must include the application of science and engineering practices and the crosscutting concepts including: earth/space, life, environmental or physical (chemistry and physics) science, engineering, technology, and applications of science.

Social Studies


U.S. History

World History

Local, State and National Government  

AP, IB, and dual enrollment

Fine Arts


Visual Arts, Music, Theater, or Dance

Not specified

Physical Education



Not specified




Not specified

Technology Education


Includes the application of knowledge, tools, and skills to solve practical problems and extend human capabilities

Other Credits


2 Credits: World Language 

2 Credits: Advanced Technology Education

OR 4 Credits: of State-approved Career and Technology program

Service Learning


A student must either complete 75 hours of student service or complete a locally designed program in student service that has been approved by the state superintendent

Total Credits 21

Students must complete an Environmental Literacy program.

Students must also complete a locally designed Environmental Literacy Program approved by the state superintendent per COMAR 13A.04.17.

Assessment Requirements

Maryland requires students to take and pass end-of-course tests called the Maryland High School Assessments in four subjects: PARCC English I, Algebra I, Maryland Integrated Science and MHSA Government. Students entering the ninth grade in the 2019-20 school year must earn passing scores of 725 on both the English 10 and Algebra I assessments. In the 2018-19 school year, students were required to participate in the no-fault operational test for the HS MISA, or Maryland Integrated Science Assessment, if they had met their determination of readiness for the HS MISA or if they had not met their science assessment required by participation in the 2017-18 administration of HS MISA. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, students are required to pass the HS MISA. Students who earned a score of 400 on the 2015-16 administration of the Biology HSA or participated in the Biology HSA in the 2016-17 school year have met their biology graduation requirement.

Students may also meet the assessment graduation requirement through a “combined score option.” Students unable to meet the graduation assessment requirements through either of the previous options may do so through the Bridge Plan for academic evaluation. For further information, please see the Maryland High School Graduation Requirement FAQs.


Accelerated Learning Options in High School

Competency-Based Credit

Students may earn high school credit by passing examinations or by completing an independent study or internship that aligns with the local school system’s curricular objectives. Students may also earn up to nine elective credits through an approved, supervised work study, experience or job entry training program outside of the high school.

Career and Technical Education

Maryland offers its students career and technical education courses in ten career cluster areas. Students can earn an industry-recognized credential when they complete a career pathway — typically a four-course program — and pass the corresponding skill assessment. Students can also earn a State Skill Certificate from the Maryland Department of Labor if they complete a Youth Apprenticeship Program for their work-based learning experience.

Earning postsecondary credit often requires the student to meet standards or complete an assessment as determined by the postsecondary institution or the licensing agency. Several community and four-year colleges throughout the state have CTE articulation agreements that specify possible credit awards for students who complete CTE programs.

Maryland also offers two work-based learning programs: The Career Research and Development and Apprenticeship Maryland programs. For each program, students develop a written plan with the school/ program coordinator and the employer. The CRD program consists of two in-school courses and a minimum 270-hour work-based learning experience, paid or unpaid. AMP provides apprenticeship experiences including work-based learning, classroom instruction, and one-on-one mentoring from an industry professional. Students begin in their junior or senior year and must complete at least one year of classroom instruction in addition to a minimum of 450 hours of paid work-based training.

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit

Dual enrollment programs — sometimes referred to as early college access — allow high school students to enroll in college courses while in high school, typically after the junior year. Students are provided a minimum 25% tuition discount depending on the county, and those eligible for free and reduced meals may take classes with no tuition charges. Public institutions of higher education may not charge tuition to dually enrolled students but may charge applicable and reasonable fees. Local boards of education pay tuition costs based on the number of dual enrollment courses a student has taken. Local boards may recoup a portion of those costs from students, again at rates based on how many dual enrollment courses a student has taken.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

The state of Maryland does not provide requirements for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. Rather, requirements are set by the respective program authorizers. Credits awarded are at the discretion of each postsecondary institution.

Early College High Schools

Early College programs in Maryland exist as stand-alone high schools within colleges. All early college high schools allow students to earn either an associate degree or up to 60 transferable college credits while completing a high school diploma.

The legislature created the Pathways in Technology Early College High School program in 2016. The state provided planning grants to six P-TECH schools. In six years or less, students graduate with a high school diploma and associate degree. Schools collaborate with community colleges and the local business community to enrich student instruction.

Early High School Graduation

Maryland’s Early College Admission Program waives the four-year high school enrollment requirement when a student is admitted to an approved post-secondary program or college, with prior approval from the local superintendent of schools. Students receive their high school diploma after successfully completing one year of college coursework.

Early College Admission

Maryland’s public four-year institutions have policies that allow students to seek early admission, so long as they earn a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Each institution that offers early admission determine their own procedures and requirements.

State regulation allows students to receive a high school diploma through early postsecondary admission, subject to meeting assessment and student service criteria.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents sets minimum admissions requirements but authorizes the 12 system institutions to set more rigorous criteria. Institutions may make exceptions to the minimum requirements for up to 15% of their incoming classes. The statewide minimum admissions requirements are as follows:

  • An earned high school diploma or equivalency credential
  • High school GPA of 2.0 or higher
  • Completion of the 16-unit Core Curriculum
  • Submission of national college exams such as SAT or ACT scores

Required Core High School Curriculum



Course Requirements






Algebra I, Geometry I and Algebra II

Students who complete Algebra II prior to their senior year must complete a year-four math



Earn credits in at least two subject areas.

Two of the three units must be lab-based.

Social Science/ History



Foreign Language


Two units in the same language

Some institutions may substitute two units of advanced technology in place of foreign language




Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Community college admissions requirements vary by institution.


State Financial Aid for Undergraduates

Merit-Based Aid

The Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship is awarded to students who pledge to work as public school or public prekindergarten teachers in Maryland upon completion of their degree. The award covers 100% of annual tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board of resident undergraduate student at a public higher education institution. For private nonprivate institutions, the award is equal to the lesser of the annual tuition, fees, and room and board of a undergraduate at UMCP or 50% of the annual tuition and fees and 100% of the room and board at the institution. To be eligible, students must have a 3.3 grade-point average and either a SAT score of 1100 (with no score less than 500 in either subsection) or ACT composite score of 25.

Need-Based Aid

The Guaranteed Access and Educational Assistance Grants require applicants to enroll as degree-seeking, full-time students at public postsecondary institutions. Both grants are last-dollar scholarships, which calculate financial need by taking the cost of attendance and subtracting aid from other sources (Expected Family Contribution, Pell Grants and other state aid).

Guaranteed Access grant recipients may qualify for a matching award if they attend an eligible nonpublic Maryland institution. Students may not receive the Guaranteed Access and Educational Assistance Grants simultaneously. Students who do not meet the March 1 deadline for filing the FAFSA may apply for the Campus-Based Educational Assistance Grant. The requirements are identical to the Educational Assistance grant.

Recipients of the Guaranteed and Educational Access grants must complete at least 24 credits by the end of their second enrollment year and each academic year thereafter. Any combination of multiple state awards may not exceed the cost of attendance or $28,000, whichever is less.


Community college students who earn an associate degree and have an Expected Family Contribution of less than $10,000 qualify for the 2+2 Transfer Scholarship. The base award amount is $1,000, but recipients enrolled in science, teaching, engineering, computer science, mathematics or nursing programs receive annual awards of $2,000.

The Maryland Part-Time Grant provides awards ranging from $200 to $2,000 per year for students enrolled in three to 11 credits per semester at a two- or four-year institution.

The Near Completer Grant reimburses students who have completed 45 credits at a community college or 90 credits at a public, four-year institution and plan to re-enroll to finish their degree. The award reduces tuition by up to one-third after all non-loan aid is applied.

The Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships is a “last-dollar” scholarship to help eligible students cover the cost of earning a vocational certificate, certificate or associate degree, or to cover the cost of a series of courses that lead to licensure or certification. In the 2021-2022 year, the scholarship can also be used by students in a registered apprenticeship program at a Maryland community college. To be considered eligible, students must meet income requirements and must have had at least a 2.3 high school GPA. Scholarship recipients will need to maintain a 2.5 GPA and complete 12 credits per semester. Students may receive the scholarship for no more than three years, or until they earn an associate degree. The maximum Promise award is $5,000 a year after applying all non-loan aid.

The Cybersecurity Public Service Scholarship Program supports students who are pursuing education in programs identified by the Secretary of Higher Education as being directly relevant to cybersecurity. Award amounts are prescribed by MHEC.

The Workforce Development Sequence Scholarship is designed to provide financial assistance to students enrolling in an approved non-credited certificate program leading to apprenticeships, employment, licensure, or job skill enhancement only at a participating Maryland Community College. The scholarship has a maximum award amount of $2,000 annually.

The Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant (WSSAG) program is for students who plan on working in specific career/occupational programs upon graduation.  Eligible fields include: child care, human services, teaching, nursing, physical and occupational therapy, social work and public service. Award amounts vary based on student’s enrollment status and institution type.


Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

MD Code, Education, § 11-703 requires the Maryland Higher Education Commission to share data on the postsecondary performance of high school graduates, including enrollment, remediation, retention and college completion rates.

The Maryland Department of Education, through the Maryland Longitudinal Data System, reports initial postsecondary enrollment data by year, county and subgroup. The department also issues high school completion data and compares these to workforce participation information.