Washington State High School Graduation Requirements

Learn what requirements the state of Washington has to graduate from high school. Find out the credits needed, the particular courses required, what state assessments must be taken, and the special honors you could earn.

What Does the State of Washington Require of Students to Graduate from High School?

The requirements to graduate from high school in Washington state are 24 credits, distributed among English, math, science, social studies, the arts, world languages, career and technical education (CTE), health and fitness, and electives. Other non-credit requirements include a course on Washington's state history, and a plan laid out for life beyond graduation, which helps to determine what courses a student should complete. Three state assessments must also be taken in English, math, and science. The English and math exams must be passed, while the science exam only requires participation. Two varieties of special academic awards are also available to be earned alongside a diploma.

Washington State Graduation Requirements 24 credits completed and 2 state assessments passed
English & Social Studies Requirements 4 English credits, SBAC English exam passed; 3 social studies credits
Math & Science Requirements 3 math credits, SBAC math exam passed; 3 science credits, WCAS science exam taken
Other Requirements 2 arts credits, 2 language credits, 2 health and fitness credits, 1 CTE credit, and 4 electives
Special Awards Washington Seal of Biliteracy, Washington State Honors Award

What Are the Washington State Graduation Requirements for English and Social Studies?

The state of Washington requires that students complete 4 credits of English in order to graduate, and that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test in English/language arts, or a state-approved alternative, be passed in grade 11. These English courses are generally known as freshman English, sophomore English, etc. and come in advanced versions. The fourth credit may be substituted with Advanced Placement (AP) or other available accelerated courses. 3 credits of social studies are required for graduation, and must include 1 credit of US history and government and 1 credit of contemporary world history, geography, and problems, as well as half a credit of civics (which may overlap with other social studies courses) and half a credit of a social studies elective. There is also a requirement that students take a course in Washington's state history, which is often met while still in middle school. If not, it can easily occupy the social studies elective in most cases.

What Are the Washington State Graduation Requirements for Math and Science?

Washington requires that all students complete 3 credits of math. For most students, this will consist of algebra I, geometry, and algebra II, although integrated math I-III may be an option depending on your post-graduation plan. Algebra II can also sometimes be substituted for career-related math courses with special permission. The SBAC test in math or its state-approved alternative are also required to be passed. 3 credits of science are required, including 2 credits of laboratory-based courses, one of which must be biology. AP Computer Science may count as either a math credit or science credit, but isn't considered to be laboratory-based. The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) is given in grade 11; students must take the test, but it is not required that they pass it in order to graduate.

What Are the Washington State Graduation Requirements for Other Subjects?

Washington also requires that students take 2 credits of visual or performing arts, although 1 credit may be reassigned to another area if a student's personal graduation pathway would not benefit from it. 2 credits of world language are required by default, and it is encouraged that both credits are in the same language. It is possible for both language credits to be reassigned under certain circumstances, particularly if a student's post-graduation plans do not involve university. 2 credits of health and fitness are required, of which half a credit is health and the other 1.5 credits are fitness, although these can be waived for students participating in athletics, military science such as Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), or a few other circumstances. 1 credit of CTE is required, and under certain circumstances may be allowed to fill another credit requirement as well under the 'two-for-one' rule. 4 elective credits are also available for students to fill by their own choice.

What Special Awards May Be Earned With a High School Diploma in Washington?

The Washington Seal of Biliteracy is a special award given with diplomas for students who have achieved a level of proficiency in English and any other offered language. This can be proven through AP exams, International Baccalaureate program testing, completing 4 credits of a single language, or by taking and passing any other national or international proficiency exam. The Washington State Honors Award program presents a special award to the top 10% of each year's graduating class, as determined by SAT/ACT scores and GPA. Students who wish to receive this award will need to be nominated by their guidance counselors before the end of February of their senior year.

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