Georgia – High School to College & Careers


College and Career Readiness

Georgia has established a College and Career Ready Performance Index to communicate expectations to all Georgia public school students. Georgia Milestones end-of-course assessments determine high school student progress and readiness for college and career. High school students take end-of-course measures (EOC) for each of ten courses associated with the EOC measures. Starting in 2016-17, juniors not meeting readiness standards in math will be able to take a senior year transition math course. The course will be available, but is not required.

College and Career Planning

High School Graduation Requirements

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors



Required Courses




Grade 9 Literature and Composition
American Literature and Composition

Two additional English courses

AP or IB equivalent courses



Math I- III or Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) Algebra, Geometry, 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, or an AP or IB course
One additional science course

AP or IB equivalent courses

Social Studies


United States History
World History
American Government/Civics (1/2 unit)
Economics (1/2 unit)

AP or IB equivalent courses

Career and technical education; foreign language; or fine arts


Students choose one of three areas. 

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

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

Health and Physical Education


Students shall combine one-half or one-third units of credit of Health, Personal Fitness, or Advanced Personal Fitness to satisfy this requirement.

Districts may waive this requirement for students with three (3) units of credit in JROTC if the courses include health and physical education curriculum requirements as outlined in state board rule.




Fourth science may substitute as an elective credit





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

Assessment Requirements

Students must pass the Georgia High School Writing Test to earn a regular high school diploma. Schools administer end-of-course (EOC) exams in 8 courses across four subjects:

  • 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

Dual Enrollment

A number of dual enrollment options provide students with the opportunity to enroll in postsecondary courses, provided they meet college entrance requirements, while completing high school graduation requirements. Eligible dual enrollment students may defray the cost of their college courses through the ACCEL program or by receiving the HOPE Grant. 

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 coursework 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.

Advanced Placement

Georgia does not have common score requirements for Advanced Placement (AP) or College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests.

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.

Move On When Ready

The Move on When Ready program, created with the passing of House Bill 149 in 2009, allows eligible 11th and 12th grade students to simultaneously enroll in college full-time while completing their remaining high school graduation requirements. As a result of the Move on When Ready legislation, the tuition and fees resulting from a participating student’s full-time enrollment are covered by the transfer of the FTE funds, minus a $200 records fee, from the school district to the postsecondary institution.  

Career and Technical Education

The Georgia Department of Education offers courses across 17 career clusters.  

Postsecondary Admissions

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



Specific Course Requirements



Literature integrated with grammar, usage and advanced composition skills



Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and fourth unit at Algebra II level or higher



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 Science


One unit related to American studies and one unit focusing on world studies

Foreign Language


Two units of the same language. American Sign Language and Computer Science satisfy this requirement.




 Minimum SAT/ACT Scores






  Four-year Two-Year Four-Year Two-Year
ACT 17 14 17 12
SAT (prior to 3/1/16) 400 18 24 19
New SAT 22 18 24 19

Admission requirements 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 (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.

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.

Freshman Index Formula

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 for Regular Admission

Research university: 2500
State university: 1940
Regional university:  2040
State colleges: 1830 (not required for all colleges)

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

Four-Year Institutions

For placement purposes, students admitted to career degree or certificate programs must be evaluated for Learning Support placement. Students who meet the institution’s regular admission standards for programs leading to baccalaureate degrees are exempted from taking the CPE or COMPASS.

A Mathematics Placement Index (MPI) and an English Placement Index (EPI) will be calculated based on High School Grade Point Average (HSGPA), SAT or ACT and, when indicated, the COMPASS placement test or other approved placement test.

Indices are calculated using formulas for the following combinations of variables:

  • HSGPA and SAT/ACT – when both are available
  • HSGPA and COMPASS – when SAT/ACT are not available
  • SAT/ACT and COMPASS – when HSGPA is not available
  • COMPASS – when neither HSGPA nor SAT/ACT is available

For some students who score below the cutoff EPI or MPI, COMPASS test scores provide additional information over that contained in HSGPA and SAT/ACT; those students will be required to take the appropriate COMPASS tests. The COMPASS score will be combined with the HSGPA and SAT/ACT and the resultant EPI or MPI will be compared to the System level cut scores to determine students’ Learning Support Placement.

University System of Georgia Collegiate Placement Index


Minimum Scores

English 1101


Mathematics 1001 or 1101


Mathematics 1111


Students with placement indices less than the minimum collegiate placement index for that subject will be placed into co-requisite or Foundations-level Learning Support.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Effective November 1, 2016, a technical college must utilize ACCUPLACER or COMPANION, the TCSG-approved assessment instruments when evaluating students’ readiness for diploma, degree and certificate programs. However, in the place of ACCUPLACER or COMPANION, or General Education Development (GED®) scores of 165+ on English or Math, 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. 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 one of the TCSG-approved instruments.

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.

Postsecondary to High School Feedback Reports

USG releases annual reports on SAT/ACT scores, high school GPA, and College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC) completion rates for enrolled students. These reports do not disaggregate data by district or school.  

State Financial Aid

All lottery-funded scholarships reward financial aid based on academic merit.

Georgia residents graduating with regular diplomas may receive state lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships by earning a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 in core subjects (math, English, science, social studies and a foreign language). 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.

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA in college to keep the HOPE Scholarship. Institutions monitor continuing eligibility as students pass the 30, 60, or 90 semester hour thresholds. College students may regain HOPE eligibility if their GPAs exceed 3.0 at the next 30 semester hour milestone. Students can regain HOPE only once.

HOPE Scholarship recipients at Georgia public colleges receive a set tuition award amount based on the institution they are attending and the number of credit-hours for which they are enrolled. Full-time HOPE Scholarship recipients attending Georgia private colleges receive $1,910 per semester.

Students may be eligible for HOPE Grants for certificate and diploma programs at public institutions by earning a minimum high school GPA of 2.0. HOPE Grant recipients at Georgia public colleges receive a set tuition award amount based on the number of credit-hours for which they are enrolled.

The Zell Miller Scholarship awards grants to students who (1) graduate from HOPE-qualifying high schools as 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. Students retain the scholarship as long as they maintain a GPA of 3.3. If a student’s GPA drops below 3.3, the student may be eligible for a regular HOPE scholarship, as long as the GPA stays above 3.0. Zell Miller recipients enrolled full time at private colleges receive $2,110 per semester.

Starting fall 2014, 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 a Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant. All three grants are funded through state lottery revenues.

Current seniors who apply for the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships must complete two full credits from any of four academic rigor course categories:

  • Advanced math (Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry, Math III, or an equivalent course
  • Advanced science (chemistry, physics, biology II, or an equivalent course
  • Advanced foreign language courses
  • Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Dual Credit Enrollment courses in core subjects (English, math, science, and social studies).

Current juniors must complete three full credits; current sophomores must complete four full credits.

Students who qualify for both scholarships may receive either a HOPE or a Zell Miller scholarship, but not both. Students who become academically ineligible for either scholarship have only a single chance to regain it. Neither scholarship covers textbooks or institutional fees. The state caps HOPE Scholarship aid at 127 credit hours.

Special Thanks

SREB would like to thank the staff at the following agencies for their assistance in carefully reviewing and confirming the accuracy of the policies and programs described in this document:

Georgia Department of Higher Education

Georgia Student Finance Commission

University System of Georgia Board of Regents


GA College 411
Georgia Department of Education
Georgia General Assembly
Technical College System of Georgia University System of Georgia