North Carolina Readiness Policies


North Carolina
College and Career Readiness Standards and Definition

North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study strives to prepare all students to become career and college ready. All public and charter school students enrolled in grade 11 for the first time are required to take the ACT. In 2013-14, A college- and career- readiness indicator was added to the Academic Achievement Descriptors for the End-of-Grade (EPG) and End-of-Course (EOC) assessments. North Carolina is in the process of piloting programs introducing college developmental math, reading and English into the curriculum for the high school senior year to be fully implemented in 2107-2018.


North Carolina

High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Students must complete at least 22 units to earn a regular high school diploma, in addition to any local requirements. Students may choose to pursue a core or occupational preparatory diploma.


Future-Ready Core

Future-Ready Occupational


4 Credits:

English I, II, III, IV or a designated combination of 4 courses

4 Credits:

English I*, II*, III, IV


4 Credits:

Math I, II, III and a fourth math course aligned with a student’s post high school plans

3 Credits:

Introduction to math, Math I, and Financial Management


3 Credits:

A physical science course, Biology, and Earth/Environmental Science

2 Credits:

Applied Science and Biology*

Social Studies

4 Credits:

American History: The Founding Principles, Civics and Economics, World History, American History I: American History II OR AP US History**, IB History of the Americas**, additional social studies course**

2 Credits:

American History I and American History II

Health/ Physical Education

1 Credit: Health/ Physical Education

1 Credit: Health/ Physical Education


6 Credits required:

Two credits of any combination from either:

-Career and Technical Education (CTE)

-Arts Education

-World Languages

Four credits strongly recommended (four course concentration) from one of the following:

-Career and Technical Education (CTE)


-Arts Education (e.g. dance, music, theater arts, visual arts)

Any other subject area (e.g. social studies, science, math, English)

6 Credits:

Occupational Preparation I, II, III, IV****

Elective credits

Additional requirements:

-Completion of IEP Objectives

Career Portfolio

Career Technical Education Not Required

4 Credits:

Career Technical Education electives

Total Credits 22 22

*OCS Pathway courses aligned with North Carolina Standard Course of Study in English I, II, III, IV; Math I and American History I, II., and Biology.

**A student who takes AP U.S. History or IB History of the Americas instead of American History I and American History II must also take an additional social studies elective course to meet the four-credit requirement.

***Examples of electives include Arts Education, JROTC and other courses that are of interest to the student.

****For students entering 9th grade in 2014-15 or later, completion of 150 hours of school-based training, 225 hours of community-based training, and 225 hours of paid employment

Future Ready Core

  • English: Students take English I, II, III and IV, or a designated combination of four courses
  • Math: Students take math I, II, III. A fourth math course should align with the students’ postsecondary plans.
  • Science: Students take three courses: one each in physical, biological and environmental science
  • Social studies: Students take Civics and Economics, American History I, American History II, and World History.
  • Electives: Students take two credits from career and technical education (CTE), arts education or world languages. Additionally, students may take a recommended sequential, four-unit concentration chosen from CTE, JROTC, arts education or any other academic subject area.
  • World Languages: The state does not require completion of foreign language courses to graduate, but the UNC system requires two units to meet minimum admission requirements.
Future Ready Occupational
  • English: Students take English I, II, III and IV.
  • Math: Students take three courses: math I; Financial Management; and, Alternate Math II or Personal Finance.
  • Science: Students take Biology I and Applied Science.
  • Social Studies: Students take American History I and American History II.
  • Electives: Students take a four-unit sequence in Occupational Preparation. The state requires students to complete IEP objectives and a career portfolio.
  • Career Technical Education: Four elective units

Assessment Requirements

North Carolina requires students enrolled in math I, Biology I and English II to take end-of-course (EOC) exams in these subject areas. Students who receive a proficient score on an EOC may use the score as at least 20 percent of their final course grades, but passing them is not a graduation requirement. If students do not receive a proficient EOC grade, they must take the NC READY EOC assessment at the completion of the course.

The ACT Plan is administered to 10th graders as a diagnostic assessment that predicts future performance. Students in grade 11 are required to take the ACT, and those concentrating in Career and Technical Education also take the ACT WorkKeys.