How-To Manual for High School Diploma Must-Haves

What does a traditional high school diploma in the U.S. require? State-by-state requirements vary, but there are four guarantees you can expect from any high school diploma.

High School Diploma Guarantee #1

First, if you have a student who is pursuing a traditional pathway toward graduation, he or she will require four years of some kind of Language Arts requirement. In the state of Georgia, this means four units of credit in English Language Arts. For Georgia residents, the non-negotiable credits that fall under this are one American Literature/Composition unit and one Ninth-Grade Literature/Composition unit. Beyond that, there are some options.

Designing a high school diploma is almost like reconfiguring a resume when you start to look for a new position. What you put on your resume will vary depending on the company you’re trying to get into, the position for which you are applying, and the work experience you want to showcase.

A high school diploma will have standard unit credits for many core subjects such as math, social sciences, science, and language arts. However, depending on your child’s post-grad goals, there are some variables as he or she gets into the upper grades (11th and 12th).

Still, your first guarantee is language arts every single year.

High School Diploma Guarantee #2

Second, your high school student will want to pursue four units of core credit in mathematics. Again using the Georgia Department of Education model, math requirements will include a few standard math classes. These might be Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2 and one additional math class. Depending on your child’s math proficiency and post-high school goals, he or she may seek to take additional math courses.

High School Diploma Guarantee #3

Third, every high school student is usually required to take a specified number of units of the social sciences. In Georgia, students are required to take three units of credit in social studies. Unlike the other core subjects, these are non-negotiable in the state of Georgia.

These are required:

  • 1 World History unit
  • 1 U.S. History unit
  • 1/2 American Government/Civics unit
  • 1/2 Economics unit

This list totals three units, so there is no variation for students to satisfy these requirements in Georgia. If you want to see if your state has different requirements, start with the Department of Education website in your state. Your state’s high school diploma requirements will be available there. It’s always an option to take more credits in any of these subjects.

High School Diploma Guarantee #4

Fourth, but not finally, a high school diploma guarantee is science. Sciences required by the state of Georgia include one unit of Biology, one unit of either Physical Science or Physics and two other units. One of those other units. One of those other units must have one unit from this list:

The core subjects, or four guaranteed requirements, are not the only courses that a student will need to fulfill. However, these are a great place to start when you are looking at what your child should be taking at the high school level for a traditional diploma.

As stated previously, these are basic requirements for the state of Georgia, and this list is not inclusive of all the requirements. There are additional credit requirements for areas in the fine arts, health/physical education, and foreign language, and for some Georgia students, career pathway credits and electives can be variables.

One of the most important aspects of a high school diploma, however, will be that you’ve checked with your state’s Department of Education or the Home School Legal Defense Association to get accurate information about where you live. Another helpful tool can be learning about your particular child’s interests, how he or she is wired, and what makes him or her come alive.

At Learnwell North Georgia, students learn more than just the basic high school diploma requirements. They also discover who they are so that they are not only rooted in their faith and character but also have an idea of what makes them tick. Our life skills and discipleship classes dive deep enough that every student is afforded opportunities to:

If you are interested in learning more about a hybrid program where the high school diploma requirements exceed the basics, Learnwell North Georgia’s hybrid school serves students in grades kindergarten through ninth grade in 2023-2024 and will be adding a grade every year until it reaches full K-12 operation in 2026-2027.