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 specify when tasks must be completed.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and the Maryland State Department of Education provide access to MD Go 4 It, a Web portal for Maryland students and their families to help them plan, apply and pay for college. Current resources can be accessed online at MHEC conducts live “Money for College” financial aid presentations across the State.


High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

To earn a regular high school diploma, students must complete at least 21 credit units as well as a one-credit 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. Students must also complete an Environmental Literacy Program



Algebra I


Third math

AP, IB, and dual enrollment. Beginning with ninth grade class of 2014-15, each student must enroll in a math course in each year of high school.




Second science

Third science

AP, IB, and dual enrollment.

Two credits must include a lab experience in any or all of the following areas: earth, life, environmental or physical science.

Social Studies


U.S. History

World History

Local, State and/or 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    

Assessment Requirements

Maryland requires students to take end-of-course tests called the Maryland High School Assessments (HSAs) in four subjects: PARCC English II, PARCC Algebra I, HSA Biology, and HSA Government. There are a variety of regulations that address whether a student need only take, but not pass, a particular HSA. The “take-only” requirements are currently instated to account for the years of transition from the Maryland State Curriculum to the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards. Students graduating in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years who were first-time English 10 and/or Algebra I test takers in those school years need only take, but not pass, the assessment. For Government HSA test-takers, the required passing score of 394 applies to first-time test takers in school years 2013-2014 and beyond. Currently, students are only required to take the Biology HSA assessment. Passing scores vary depending on the year the tests were taken.

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. CTE programs of study consist of four courses: foundational, second, specialty, and capstone. Upon completion of these four courses, students can earn college credits and/or an industry-recognized credential. Earning postsecondary credit often requires the student to meet standards or complete an assessment as determined by the postsecondary institution or the licensing agent. Several community and four-year colleges throughout the state have CTE articulation agreements which specify possible credit awards for students who complete CTE programs.

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 percent tuition discount depending on the county, and those eligible for free and reduced meal 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. Maryland currently has four Early (or Middle) College high schools: Community College of Baltimore County, Prince George’s Community College, Howard Community College and Hagerstown Community College. These 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.

Early High School Graduation

Maryland 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 high school principal. Students may also graduate early earning a Certificate of Merit by completing a specified core of credits which may be one of the following:

  • The career preparation requirement
  • The student service requirement
  • The high school assessments requirement

Early College Admission

Maryland’s public four-year segments (University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland) have policies that allow students to seek early admission, so long as they earn a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Institutions that offer early admission determine their own procedures and requirements for doing so.


Postsecondary Admission Requirements

Four-Year Institutions

The 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 percent of their incoming classes. The state-wide 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 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



Earned credits in at least two subject areas

Two of 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

The state funds four need-based grant programs. All programs require applicants to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

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

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.

Beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year, recipients of the Guaranteed and Educational Access grants must complete at least 30 credits by the end of their second enrollment year and each academic year thereafter. Students completing between 24 and 29 credits will receive a prorated grant award.

Guaranteed Access grant recipients may qualify for a matching grant if they attend an eligible nonpublic Maryland institution.

Community college students who earn an associate degree and have an Expected Family Contribution of less than $10,000 qualify for the Transfer Grant, which provides scholarships of $1,000. Transfer Grant 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 six to 11 credits per semester.

Any combination of multiple state awards may not exceed $19,000 per year.


Postsecondary Feedback to High Schools

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