Skip Ribbon Commands Skip to main content

Courses to Take in High School

High School Coursework and College Entrance Requirements

Colleges generally require that you complete specific high school courses to qualify for admission. These requirements vary from school to school, so you should talk with your high school guidance counselor to determine where to focus your studies. If you have specific colleges in mind, contact those schools and ask what they require for admission.

The more types of courses you take in high school, the more you'll get to know what really interests you, which makes your choices in college easier too. You may discover that, while you do just fine in English, you're really passionate about biology.

Taking advanced courses in high school better prepares you for college, regardless of your college's admission requirements. If you take advanced placement courses, you may be eligible to receive college credits for them, which will reduce your future tuition costs.

The following chart shows the high school courses generally required if plan to attend a four-year college or university.

Subject Minimum state graduation requirements* Minimum requirements for public four-year colleges and universities** Recommended courses for highly selective college and universities
English 3 credits 4 years 4 years
Math 2 credits 3 years*** 3-4 years***
Science 2 credits 2 years 3-4 years
Social Studies 2.5 credits 3 years 3-4 years
World Language 0 credits 2 years 3-4 years
Visual or Performing Arts 1 credit 1 year 2-3 years
Health and Fitness 2 credits    
Occupational Education 1 credits    
Electives 5.5 credits    
Total 19 credits    

* May vary by state. Also, your school's requirements may be higher than the state minimums.
** Students must have a minimum 2.0 grade point average.
*** Must be Algebra II or higher.