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.