Alabama High School Diploma Requirements & Options

Find out about the types of diplomas available in Alabama and the requirements to earn them. Learn about the credits needed, the courses required, and how to obtain a nontraditional diploma by reading below.

How Do I Earn a High School Diploma in Alabama?

In the state of Alabama, all students must earn 24 credits in order to graduate from high school. Included among these 24 credits are 4 credits of English, 4 credits of math, 4 credits of science, 4 credits of social studies, 1 credit of physical education, half a credit of health, 1 credit of career preparedness, 2.5 credits of electives and 3 credits of career and technical education (CTE), foreign language, or arts. There is also a distance learning requirement, where all students must take one online course in any topic before graduation.

While all students will ultimately receive the same diploma, there are three slightly different pathways to get there, depending on your goals after high school and level of achievement. While credit requirements largely remain the same, the Essentials Pathway has a greater focus on CTE courses, swapping out one elective for another career credit, and offers ''essentials'' versions of some courses. The General Education Pathway largely matches the standard requirements, and the Alternate Achievement Standards Pathway is for students with significant disabilities. A non-traditional high school diploma is also available for those who dropped out of high school but now wish to obtain their diploma.

Alabama High School Diploma 24 credits required
English & Social Studies Requirements 4 English credits, consisting of English 9, 10, 11, and 12; 4 social studies credits, consisting of US History I and II, World History, US Government, and Economics
Math Requirements 4 math credits, including Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry or their equivalents
Science Requirements 4 science credits; must include Biology and a physical science course
Other Requirements 1 credit of physical education, .5 credit of health, 3 credits of CTE/foreign language/arts, 2.5 credits of electives
Nontraditional Diploma Option for students who once dropped out to obtain a diploma

What English and Social Studies Credits Are Required to Receive a Diploma in Alabama?

To meet the English credit requirements, students must take English 9, 10, 11, and 12 as their 4 credits, although Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses may be substituted for them if available.

The 4-credit social studies requirement includes US History I, US History II, and World History for 1 credit each as well as US Government and Economics for half a credit each. Any available AP/IB courses may be substituted for their closest match. Additionally, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, students will need to pass a special civics exam during the US Government course before being allowed to graduate.

What Math Credits Are Required to Receive a Diploma in Alabama?

The mathematics requirement for graduation is 4 credits, which must include Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II or their designated equivalents from the Essentials Pathway. The fourth credit is to be chosen from math credit eligible CTE courses, AP/IB courses, or other available courses, such as Pre-calculus and Career Math. Students planning to attend university must complete Algebra II, at minimum. If Algebra I was completed before reaching high school, it may still count as a high school credit towards graduation.

What Science Credits Are Required to Receive a Diploma in Alabama?

Graduation requirements for science are also 4 credits and must include 1 credit of Biology and 1 credit of a physical science - defined as physics, physical science, or chemistry. Any AP/IB course may be taken in place of their nearest match and can also be used to fill the remaining 2 credit requirements. Additionally, certain courses from the CTE category may be allowed to fill science requirements, such as Forensic Science, Plant Biotechnology, Aquaculture Science, Intro to Biotechnology, Principles of Engineering, and Chemistry of Food.

What Other Credits Are Required to Receive a Diploma in Alabama?

All students must take at least 1 credit of physical education, usually through the Lifelong Individualized Fitness Education (LIFE) course, although the credit can also be filled through 1 credit of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) or waived for students in marching band, athletics, or other suitably demanding extracurricular activities by request. Half a credit of health education must be obtained along with 1 credit of Career Preparedness, a course designed to help students plan for life after high school and ensure financial and technological literacy. Three credits are reserved for a student's choice of CTE courses, foreign language courses, arts courses, or any mix thereof. Students planning to attend university are encouraged to take 2 credits of a single foreign language and 1 credit of arts, while students on the Essentials Pathway are encouraged to take 3 CTE courses. The remaining 2.5 credits are electives up to students' choice, although students on the Essentials Pathway only have 1.5 credits, as one of these has been moved to CTE for an additional credit of career prep or workplace learning.

What Is the Nontraditional Diploma in Alabama?

For students who dropped out of high school but obtained at least 10 credits before doing so, it is possible to return and obtain a diploma through the nontraditional diploma option. If an individual wishes to do this, they must send in a form demonstrating their eligibility and have their high school transcript sent to an adult education program they plan to participate in. A Test for Adult Basic Education (TABE) is likely to be required, and based on those results, any missing credits must be made up. Once all requirements are met, the individual's former high school will issue a nontraditional diploma.

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