Virginia High School Diploma Options & Requirements

Find out about the different options that exist to earn your high school diploma in Virginia. Learn about different graduation tracks, what courses are needed to be eligible, and what other requirements must be met.

What Requirements Are There to Receive a High School Diploma in Virginia?

In Virginia, there are a number of different types of high school diplomas available, with most graduates obtaining either an advanced studies diploma (26 credits) or standard diploma (22 credits). Other diplomas are reserved for special cases, such as the recently discontinued Modified Standard Diploma or applied studies diploma for students with disabilities, or the adult high school diploma for those over 18 and not attending public school. The requirements for the standard diploma include 4 English credits; 3 math credits; 3 laboratory science credits; 3 history and social science credits; 2 physical education credits; 2 credits in a foreign language, fine arts, or technical education; 1 personal finance credit; and 4 electives. The advanced studies diploma requires 4 English credits, 4 math credits, 4 laboratory science credits, 4 history and social science credits, 3 world language credits, 2 physical education credits, 1 fine arts or technical education credit, 1 personal finance credit, and 3 elective credits. For these diplomas, students must also obtain CPR training; take one online course; and either take one or more honors, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, or obtain a career or technical education credential, such as certification in a particular industry.

Virginia High School Diplomas 26-credit advanced studies diploma or 22-credit standard diploma are most common
Math and Science Requirements 3 math credits, 3 science credits for standard; 4 math credits, 4 science credits for advanced
English and History/Social Sciences Requirements 4 English credits for all; 3 social sciences credits for standard and 4 social sciences credits for advanced
Other Credit Requirements 2 physical education credits and 1 personal finance credit required for all; 2 foreign language/fine arts/career technical and 4 electives for standard; 3 foreign language, 1 fine art or technical, and 3 electives for advanced
Additional Requirements 1 honors/AP/IB course or career credential, CPR/AED training, 1 online course, the 5 Cs, and 5 verified credits

What Math and Science Requirements Are There to Graduate With a Diploma in Virginia?

To meet math credit requirements, it is necessary to obtain 3 credits for the standard diploma or 4 credits for the advanced. At least 2 credits (for standard) or 3 credits (for advanced) must be from algebra I or II, geometry, or other courses above algebra II. Computer science courses may meet math requirements for the final credit. To meet science credits requirements, 3 credits are needed for the standard diploma and 4 credits are needed for the advanced diploma. Of these, 2 of the 3 for standard, or 3 of the 4 for advanced, must be from different science disciplines, such as earth sciences, biology, chemistry, and physics. Computer science credit may also be considered a science credit, but cannot fulfill both. Students on the standard diploma plan may also substitute a science credit with an earned credential, certification, or license in a particular industry.

What English, History, and Social Science Requirements Are There to Graduate With a Diploma in Virginia?

The English credit requirements are very simple for both the standard and advanced studies diploma, consisting of grade-level courses that all students must take. For the history and social science requirements, students must achieve 1 credit in Virginia and US history, 1 credit in Virginia and US government, and 1 additional credit in world history or geography for the standard diploma. The advanced studies diploma requires a second credit in world history or geography, and may be fulfilled by relevant AP or IB courses.

What Other Credit Requirements Are There to Graduate With a Diploma in Virginia?

To fulfill additional graduation requirements, it is necessary for students to earn 2 health and physical education credits, which may vary from school to school but are generally courses that go by the name physical education. The personal finance requirement is fairly recent and requires that students complete a course entitled Economics and Personal Finance. Students on the standard diploma track will need 2 credits in a world language, technical education, or fine arts, and at least 1 must be in technical education or fine arts. Students on the advanced studies diploma track will need 3 world language credits, which can be either three years of one language or two years of two languages. Advanced studies students must still complete 1 credit of fine arts or technical education. For all students, a computer science course may qualify as technical education if not fulfilling other criteria. The remaining 3 to 4 credits are electives up to student choice, although 2 credits must be sequential in the same subject.

What Additional Requirements Are There to Graduate With a Diploma in Virginia?

For students on both paths, as of 2016, it is required to complete training in CPR and automated external defibrillators (AED). This may be covered in the health and physical education courses, or may be obtained from outside sources. Students are also required to take a virtual course online, which may be credit or non-credit. It is also required that all students complete at least one honors, AP, or IB course during their time in high school, although exactly what course is up to the student, or obtain a career credential in its place. Virginia has a focus on what it refers to as the 5 Cs: critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship, which must also be officially met, generally by teacher approval. Additionally, the Verified Credit system requires that students pass an end-of-course exam in each major subject area, and two in English, for a total of 5 verified credits.

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