Tennessee High School Diploma Requirements

Learn about the requirements to earn a high school diploma in the state of Tennessee. Find out what credits are required, the exams that must be taken, and the special awards available.

How Do I Earn a Diploma in Tennessee?

In order to graduate from high school in the state of Tennessee, it is required that students obtain 22 credits of coursework, pass all end of course (EOC) exams in core subject areas, and take the SAT or ACT in grade 11. These 22 credits must include math, English, science, social studies, physical education and wellness, personal finance, foreign language, fine arts, and electives. Additionally, a number of special honors are available with a high school diploma. Special education and occupational diplomas are an option for students with disabilities.

Graduation Requirements 22 credits completed, pass EOC exams, take SAT or ACT in grade 11
English and Social Studies 4 credits of English, 3 credits of social studies
Math and Science 4 credits of math, 3 credits of science
Other Subjects1.5 credits of physical education and wellness, .5 credit personal finance, 2 credits of a foreign language, 1 credit of fine arts, 3 credits of electives.
Awards Available Graduate with honors, state honors, or state distinction

What English and Social Studies Credits are Needed?

To meet statewide graduation requirements, students must obtain 4 credits of English, typically consisting of English I-IV. EOC exams are given at the end of English I and II, which must be taken and are included in the grades for these courses. Students must also obtain 3 credits of social studies, which includes US history and geography, world history and geography, economics, and US government and civics. An EOC exam in US history and geography is mandatory for all students, and is similarly included in the overall course grade.

What Math and Science Credits are Needed?

Students in Tennessee are required to take 4 credits of math, including algebra I, algebra II, and geometry, or their deemed equivalents in integrated math I, II, and III. The fourth credit may be chosen by the student, but must be at the level of algebra I or above. Students who took algebra I prior to entering high school will not be required to take it again, but must still obtain a math credit each year, allowing them a second freely chosen math course. EOC exams exist for all required math courses. Three science credits are required, with 1 credit of biology required of all students. The second credit may be chosen from either chemistry or physics, while the final credit is up to student choice, although it must have a lab component. Biology has an EOC exam which must be taken.

What Other Credits are Necessary?

Aside from core subjects, students in Tennessee are required to take 1.5 credits of physical education and wellness, .5 credit of personal finance, 2 credits of foreign language, 1 credit of fine arts, and 3 credits of electives. Students may have half a credit of physical education waived if they participate in sports, cheerleading, marching band, but they must still take 1 credit of health and wellness. Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) students can have all 1.5 credits waived if they remain in for 2 years, and the half credit of personal finance can sometimes be fulfilled this way as well. Two credits of foreign language and 1 credit of fine arts are required by the state, but the option of waiving these requirements on an individual basis is available to local schools. Generally, this is done for students not planning to attend university, in order to allow for a greater focus on career and technical education (CTE) courses. Three elective credits are available to all students.

What Special Awards are Available?

In Tennessee, there are 3 primary special awards that can be earned, although they can vary somewhat from district to district. In order to graduate with honors, students must meet all graduation requirements and have at least a 3.0 unweighted GPA. To graduate with 'state honors', students must score at or above all 'readiness benchmarks' on the ACT or equivalently on the SAT. To graduate with 'state distinction', students must achieve one of a number of special accomplishments, such as a National Merit finalist or semi-finalist, a member of all-state band or orchestra, or have a score a 31 or higher on the ACT or SAT equivalent. Other ways to earn the distinction include obtaining a national or state recognized industry certification, complete the International Baccalaureate diploma program, score a 3 or higher on two Advanced Placement exams, or accrue 12 post-secondary credit hours on transcript.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools