Mississippi – High School to College & Careers


College and Career Readiness

In 2016, The Mississippi State Board of Education adopted revised Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The legislature requires all 11th graders take the ACT. The state pays for one administration. Students who choose to retake the ACT do so at their own expense. Transitional courses (SREB Math and Literacy Readiness) are offered to seniors who have an ACT sub-score between 15-18, but are not required.

College and Career Planning

High School Graduation Requirements 

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Districts must require students to complete at least 21 units before issuing a high school diploma. Students may choose the traditional academic or career diploma paths. The latter requires students to complete four units in one of 16 career clusters. The Early Exit Exam Option is a diploma path available to students who demonstrate readiness for college and careers by completing an abbreviated curriculum and showing mastery on multiple assessments (the ACT, ACT QualityCore end-of-course exams, and Mississippi Institution of Higher Learning-approved tests).

Subjects Career Path Traditional Path District Option  Early Exit Exam Option Common Requirements
English 4 4 4 4

English I
English II

Two other credits

Mathematics 3 4 4 3 Algebra I
Science 3 4 3 2 Biology I
Social Science 3 4 3 2

Full-Unit Courses:
• American History

Half-Unit Courses:
• American Government
• Mississippi Studies

Health/ Physical Education 0.5 0.5 0.5 1 Half-Unit: Comprehensive Health
 Technology 1 1 1  
Career and Technical Education 4  
Arts 1 1 1  
Electives 5 2.5 units in student’s career path 4.5 5  
TOTAL 24 21 21 17.5  

Assessment Requirements

Mississippi administers the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) and Subject Area Testing Program, Second Edition (SATP2) to high school students. MAAP comprises Algebra I and English II exams while SATP2 comprises Biology I and U.S. History assessments. Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, SATP2 scores will constitute 25 percent of a student’s final grade. A passing score in each of the four subject-area tests is required. Students may also use a combination score option to meet graduation requirements if they do not pass any one of the EOCs. All students complete the ACT in grade 11.

Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Seniors who have failed an end-of-course SATP test may use the test score with their overall course grade to apply for graduation. Students will qualify for this option if their course grade and test score, when evaluated together, demonstrate adequate mastery of course content. State Board Policy 3804 allows students to satisfy assessment requirements through alternative means, such as qualifying ACT sub-scores, earned college credit, or an earned industry certification.

Accelerated Learning Options

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

State law requires school districts and postsecondary institutions to sign memoranda of understanding to create a dual credit program. Students may qualify for enrollment in dual credit courses if they receive a written recommendation from their principal or counselor and accomplish one of the following:

  • 3.0 GPA on 4.0 scale for all high school courses with successful completion of 14 core high school units
  • 3.0 GPA for all high school courses with junior standing; or
  • 3.0 GPA and minimum ACT composite of 30.

Admission and placement testing requirements, as well as tuition and fees vary by institution. Also, districts may establish additional guidelines with postsecondary institutions to allow students to enroll in dual credit classes who do not qualify based on the above requirements.

Early College Admission

Students who complete the requirements of the Mississippi Early Exit Diploma may continue to take Advanced Placement or dual credit courses, enroll full-time in a career-technical education program, or graduate high school early and enroll in a local community college.

Career and Technical Education

The Pathways to Success initiative has developed career path documents that align with the 16 fields contained in the National Clusters Framework. Each one-page fact sheet contains course recommendations for core and elective credits, including career-technical courses for students pursuing the career path diploma.  

Postsecondary Admissions 

Four-Year Institutions

The Board of Trustees for the Institutions of Higher Learning set the minimum admissions requirements for public universities. All applicants must complete the Required College-Preparatory Curriculum (CPC) to receive full admission. The Board also has created a more rigorous, recommended preparatory curriculum. Students may substitute Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses for specific subject-area requirements.

The Board authorizes institutions to admit students completing the CPC with a minimum 2.0 high school GPA and an ACT Composite of 18 or higher. Institutions may enroll students with ACT Composite scores as low as 16 if they have a higher GPA and/or class rank. 

Universities may admit students who do not meet full admissions requirements through enrollment in the Summer Development Program. Successful completion of the program entitles students to continue enrollment in the fall semester. Institutions also may enroll students in Yearlong Academic Support Programs. Some credit earned through the yearlong program does not count toward graduation.

IHL College-Preparatory Curriculum

Subject Required Credits Recommended Credits Course Requirements
English 4 4

Must require substantial communication skills

Math 3 4

Algebra I or equivalent

Other units higher than Algebra I

Science 3 4

Biology I or its equivalent

Other units higher than Biology I

Social Studies 3 4

American & World History (1 credit)

U.S. Government (1/2 credit)

Economics or Geography (1/2 credit)

Recommended units include Introduction to World geography and Mississippi Studies

Arts 1 N/A

Units in visual and performing arts

Advanced Electives 2 2

Option 1: Foreign Language I and Foreign Language II

Option 2: Foreign Language I and Advanced World Geography

Option 3: Any combination of English, Mathematics higher than Algebra I, Science higher than Biology I, Advanced Elective category, any AP course, any IB course

Technology 0.5 0.5 A course that emphasizes the use of technology as a productivity tool
Total 16.5 19.5  

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses can be substituted for each requirement. A course may not be used to satisfy more than one requirement.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Academic and technical students must meet one of the following Mississippi Community College Board admissions criteria to enroll at an institution:

  • An earned high school diploma or approved equivalency certificate;
  • The completion of at least one unit less than the minimum acceptable high school units as prescribed by law, i.e. if the state requires 21 high school units to graduate, a student can be admitted into a community/junior college with 20 high school units;
  • Mississippi Occupational Diploma or state-approved Career Certificate; or
  • Official transcript from accredited postsecondary institution

Two-year institutions may enroll students in career programs based upon qualifying scores on a federal assessment that demonstrates their ability to benefit from postsecondary instruction.

Postsecondary Placement

Four-Year Institutions

Students who do not meet the requirements for unconditional admission may be admitted but must participate in an on-campus placement process at the institution. Students who score below 16 on the ACT English, Reading, or Math subtests must take intermediate courses. However, institutions must exempt students who completed SREB Math Ready and/or Literacy Ready courses with a grade of “80” or higher from taking intermediate courses. Students who are admitted without sufficient skills in English, reading or math are required to enroll in the Summer Development Program. Successful completion of the summer semester program entitles the student to continue enrollment at the university.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Institutions set their own placement thresholds for entry into college-level English and math courses. However, the Mississippi Community College Board convenes the Chief Academic Officers in an affinity group. Through this group, 14 of 15 institutions have agreed to use a minimum ACT English sub-score of 17 for placement into English Composition I (ENG 1113) and a minimum math sub-score of 19 for College Algebra (MAT 1313).

Entering freshmen enrolled at a public postsecondary institution who have an ACT Mathematics, Reading or English subtest score of 16 or less are required to take Intermediate Algebra or English during their first semester of college. Institutions can require students who score 17, 18 or 19 to take the intermediate course(s). However, students who complete the SREB Math, English and/or Literacy Ready course with a grade of 80 or better are not required to take the Intermediate level course before entering college-level course work. Students taking two or more intermediate courses must enroll in the year-long Academic Support Program or equivalent courses.

Postsecondary to High School Feedback Reports

Mississippi does not provide feedback reports from colleges to high schools on student admission, placement and performance.

State Financial Aid

The majority of state financial aid dollars for first-time, full-time freshmen are allocated based on academic merit.

  Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students
Who Can Apply? • High school seniors
• Full-time undergraduates
• High school seniors
• Full-time undergraduates
• High school seniors
• Current college freshmen
Initial Requirements • 29 ACT or 1290 SAT
• 3.5 high school GPA
• Enroll in 12 or more credits per semester
• National Merit finalists or semifinalist
• 15 ACT
• 2.5 high school GPA
• Enroll in 12 or more credits per semester
• 20 ACT or 940 SAT
• 2.5 high school GPA
• Complete college preparatory curriculum (see above), plus two additional units
• Demonstrate financial need and meet certain income requirements
Awards Up to $2,500 • $500 per year for freshmen and sophomores
• $1,000 per year for juniors and seniors
Tuition and required fees at a public institution
Continuing Eligibility Requirements • Full-time enrollment
• Minimum GPA of 3.5
• Full-time enrollment
• Minimum GPA of 2.5
• Full-time enrollment
• Minimum GPA of 2.5
• Continued financial need

The state administers several smaller grant programs, as well as a number of forgivable loan programs for students planning to enter the workforce in high-need fields such as nursing and teaching.  The state financial aid website is located at www.mississippi.edu/financialaid.

Special Thanks

We 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:

Mississippi Community College Board

Mississippi Department of Education

Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning


Mississippi Department of Education
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid
Mississippi State Summer Development Program
Rise Up Mississippi
University of Mississippi System