New Jersey High School Diploma Requirements for Graduation

Find out what the requirements are to earn a high school diploma in New Jersey upon graduation. Learn what credits are needed, the particular courses required, and the special awards available.

What Does New Jersey Require of High School Students to Graduate with a Diploma?

The state of New Jersey requires that students earn a total of 120 credits in order to graduate, with a credit defined as a 40-minute class that meets once a week, thus making the average class that meets 5 days a week worth 5 credits. These 120 credits must include courses in English, math, science, social studies, economics and financial literacy, health and physical education, visual or performing arts, world languages, and 21st century life, as well as some electives. There is also a technology requirement, which is not part of the credits, but rather integrated into relevant courses. Aside from classroom hours, students may be able to meet credit requirements through online courses, independent study, study abroad and student exchange programs, and other learning experiences such as internships. Additionally, students can earn the state seal of biliteracy, a special award given alongside a diploma.

New Jersey High School Diploma 120 credits required
English and Social Studies Requirements 20 credits of English, 15 credits of social studies
Math and Science Requirements 15 credits of math, 15 credits of science
Other Requirements 2.5 credits of financial literacy, 15 credits of physical education, 5 credits of arts, 5 credits of world languages, 5 credits of 21st century life, and 22.5 credits of electives
Seal of Biliteracy Special award for students who have demonstrated ability in 2 or more languages

What English and Social Studies Credits Does New Jersey Require to Graduate with a Diploma?

In the subject of English and language arts, students are required to earn 20 credits over their high school careers. While no particular courses are required, the courses generally taken are named English 1, English 2, etc. For social studies, 15 credits are required, with at least 5 credits of world history. US history, including New Jersey's history, and civics and US government education are also required, typically in the form of a dedicated course, although the material could be integrated into other courses and still meet the requirement. 20 credits of social studies, or 5 each year, are encouraged by the state and may be required by some local school districts.

What Math and Science Credits Does New Jersey Require to Graduate with a Diploma?

The mathematics requirement for New Jersey is 15 credits, which must include algebra I, geometry, and a third math course that builds on what is learned in the prior two courses, most commonly algebra II. A fourth math course, bringing the total to 20 credits, is encouraged and may be required in some school districts. Science also requires 15 credits and must involve 5 credits of biology; 5 credits of another laboratory or inquiry-based science course such as chemistry, physics, or environmental science; and 5 credits of laboratory or inquiry-based science chosen from any available that have not yet been taken. Students are encouraged to take another 5 credits of lab-based science courses so that they have 5 credits each year, and local school districts may require it.

What Other Credits Does New Jersey Require to Graduate with a Diploma?

New Jersey requires that all students receive 2.5 credits worth of financial, economic business, and entrepreneurial business literacy courses during their time in high school. 15 credits of health and physical education are required, broken down into 3.75 credits per year, or roughly 150 minutes each week. 5 credits of visual and performing arts must be taken, with students free to choose from areas such as music, theater, or arts. 5 credits of a world language are required, but the state also encourages students to take 5 credits each year for a total of 20, particularly for students planning to attend university. 5 credits are also needed in the area referred to as 21st century life and careers, which is generally considered equivalent to career and technical education, and might include subjects such as law, business management, video production, or computer design. Additionally, all students will have 22.5 credits of electives to take in order to reach 120 credits total.

How Can I Earn the New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy with My High School Diploma?

The New Jersey state seal of biliteracy is a relatively new award which is given out to graduating students who have demonstrated ability in English and a world language other than English, including Latin, American Sign Language, or Native American languages. To demonstrate their proficiency with English, a student need only complete satisfactorily the English language arts requirements for graduation. Proficiency in other languages can be demonstrated via any nationally recognized exams for that language which have been approved by the department of education in New Jersey. Students may or may not have the costs of these exams covered by the local school district. If a nationally recognized exam is not available for a language, a locally developed substitute may be approved. Students who earn the seal of biliteracy will receive the seal insignia on their diplomas and have it noted on their transcripts.

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