Kentucky High School Graduation Requirements & Diploma Types

Find out about Kentucky's updated high school graduation requirements. Learn about the courses required, the credits needed, and what graduation qualifiers and prerequisites must be met.

What Requirements Must Students Meet to Graduate High School in Kentucky?

As of the 2019-2020 school year, students in Kentucky are required to earn 22 credits before they are eligible to graduate with a high school diploma. Included among these 22 credits are English, math, science, social studies, health and physical education, visual or performing arts, and electives. A technological competency requirement and a financial literacy requirement also exist, as well as a 100 question civics exam. State mandated assessments are given during the tenth grade year, which is necessary for graduation. Finally, there are eight metrics known as graduation qualifiers, which students must meet at least one of in order to graduate.

Students with special needs who are not able to meet the requirements of a standard diploma are awarded a certificate of attainment, which signifies the completion of high school but is not recognized as a diploma.

Standard Diploma Coursework Requirements 22 credits required
English and Social Studies 4 credits of English, 3 credits of social studies
Math and Science 3 credits of math , 3 credits of science
Other Courses 1 credit of health and physical education, 1 credit of visual or performing arts, 7 credits of electives
Graduation Qualifiers and Prerequisites Must meet state graduation prerequisites, and one of eight graduation qualifiers
Additional Requirements Civics exam, financial literacy instruction, competency in technology

What English and Social Studies Requirements Must Students Meet to Graduate High School in Kentucky?

The state of Kentucky now requires that students earn 4 credits of English, with one course taken each year. English I and II are required for all students, while English III and IV can be replaced by higher level courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) English courses, or other English credits depending on the student's post-graduation plans. Students are also required to earn 3 credits in social studies, in the areas of government and civics, geography, economics, cultures and societies, and historical perspectives. Students may have some degree of choice, depending on local district requirements.

What Math and Science Requirements Must Students Meet to Graduate High School in Kentucky?

Students in Kentucky must earn 3 math credits to graduate, consisting of algebra I, geometry, and algebra II. Students not planning to attend university may be able to take another math course instead of algebra II. Additionally, students are required to take a math course in each year of high school, so students planning to graduate on a normal, four-year schedule may need to take a fourth math course as an elective, which can be chosen from topics like calculus, AP computer science, or advanced accounting. Three science credits are also required, and must include lab-based science courses. These might include biology 1 or 2, chemistry, or physics. A number of other science courses that are not lab-based exist, such as geology, oceanography, and astronomy.

What Other Requirements Must Students Meet to Graduate High School in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, students must also obtain half a credit of health, half a credit of physical education, 1 credit of visual or performing arts, and 7 credits of electives. The courses to fulfill the health and physical education credits are simply known by those names, while a number of options exist for the arts credit, including theater, dance, crafts, band and orchestra. Of the 7 elective credits, students are expected to have at least 4 courses with a career or academic focus they are interested in, and 1 credit is likely to be used for the fourth math course.

What are the Graduation Qualifiers and Prerequisites in Kentucky?

In addition to the credits requirements, there are several other ways to qualify for graduation under Kentucky's latest guidelines. Completion of the pre-college curriculum, reaching the minimum scoring requirements for a college entrance exam, scoring suitably on AP/IB or Cambridge Advanced International courses, or earning 3 credits of dual enrollment with at least a C grade are all qualifiers. Earning a recognized industry credential, completing 4 credits of career education in the same area, participating in a 2 year apprenticeship, or undergoing a department of education verification process of 500 hours work experience will also meet qualifier requirements. Additionally, graduation prerequisites must be met, which consist of meeting the competency requirements for English and math on the eighth grade state assessments, the tenth grade state assessments, or assembling a portfolio that demonstrates a student's ability to meet competency requirements and their plans after graduation.

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