How to Get a High School Diploma in Texas: Requirements & Credits Needed

Find out the state of Texas' requirements to earn a high school diploma. Learn about the credits needed, the courses that satisfy those credits, and more below.

What Are the Requirements that Must Be Met to Graduate from High School in Texas?

The state of Texas reworked its complex high school graduation requirements in 2014, and the first students who must use these new guidelines are approaching graduation. Reviewing these requirements ensures students won't face any surprises as they near the end. This new plan, referred to as the Foundation High School Program, requires 22 credits total to graduate, with four English/language arts credits, three mathematics credits, three science credits, three social studies credits, two foreign language credits, one physical education credit, one fine arts credit, and five electives. Additional specifications exist within each category. For students who wish to aim higher, it is also possible to earn certain endorsements with their diploma which show an aptitude for certain areas, such as STEM, business and industry, public services, arts and humanities, or multidisciplinary studies.

Texas High School Graduation Requirements 22 credits total
Language Requirements 4 English credits, including English I and II; 2 foreign language credits in same language
Math & Science Requirements 3 math credits, including algebra I and geometry; 3 science credits, including biology and a course with lab work
Social Studies, Physical Education, And Fine Arts Requirements 3 social studies credits, 1 physical education credit, and 1 fine arts credit
Endorsements Available STEM, business and industry, public services, arts and humanities, multidisciplinary

What Are the High School Credit Requirements for English and Foreign Languages?

In Texas, English has the highest number of required credits of any of the subjects. Two of these four credits must be filled by English I and II, while the third must be English III or one of the approved AP courses deemed comparable, and the last credit may be chosen from a list of eligible courses, of which two half credits may be an option. These might include topics like creative writing, journalism, or public speaking. Languages other than English requires two credits in the same language, and AP courses may be an option if available. For students who speak English as a second language, accommodations are available.

What Are the High School Credit Requirements for Math and Science?

For mathematics, two of the three credits must consist of algebra I and geometry, while the third is up to the student's choice and may be fulfilled by choosing two for half credits. Options for the third credit include courses such as algebra II, precalculus, statistics, accounting, and more. Science requirements include biology, as well as a lab-based course, such as chemistry, physics, or principles of technology. The third credit is once again free to choose and may consist of two half credits. Among the nearly twenty topics available are aquatic sciences, astronomy, anatomy and physiology, and food science. There is even an option for apprenticeships in science or other training, if such a program exists at the school.

What Are the High School Credit Requirements for Social Studies, Physical Education, and Fine Arts?

Social studies offers a bit less flexibility than other categories, requiring US history since 1877 as a full credit and US government and economics with an emphasis on free enterprise as two half credits. The final credit must be chosen from world history, world geography, or any AP courses which exist at your school that do not fulfill other requirements. Physical education requirements can be met in a number of ways, through classes such as foundations of personal fitness, athletics participation, or participation in Junior ROTC, marching band, drill team, or cheerleading. Classes eligible for the fine arts requirement include art, dance, music, music studies, theatre, musical theatre, technical theatre, floral design, digital arts and animation, and 3D modeling and animation. Electives may be chosen out of any of the available courses in any subject.

What Is Required to Earn Endorsements with My Diploma?

To earn an endorsement under this system, it is first necessary to declare your intention to earn an endorsement as freshman, although exactly which endorsement can be changed at any time. For all endorsement programs, a fourth math credit and fourth science credit are required, and 26 academic credits are required in total. Specific endorsements will require that a student has followed a logical path throughout their education in that subject area, for example moving from computer science I to II to III for a STEM endorsement. The multidisciplinary endorsement simply requires that four advanced courses in each of the four basic subjects are completed, or four AP, IB, or dual credit courses in any of the six subject areas, excluding physical education. Endorsements are viewed positively by colleges and universities.

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