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Graduating from a Georgia Public High School

Students are eager to graduate from high school and move on to the next part of their lives. In order to graduate, public school students in Georgia must:


Students must complete 23 units of coursework in order to graduate.


Current GEORGIA Graduation Rule for students



English/Language Arts









Social Studies









** Required Electives: Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE), &/or Modern Language/Latin, &/or Fine Arts








*4th Science may be used to meet both science and elective requirement

**Student must complete 3 units in a CTAE pathway to complete the pathway; student must complete 2 years of the same foreign language for admissions to many University System of Georgia colleges/universities.


Georgia High School Graduation Tests

Students, who entered high school from Fall 2008-June 2011 are required to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests in order to earn a high school diploma. The tests cover only a sample of the knowledge and skills that constitute a high school education. Students must pass all of the following tests:

Students begin taking the tests in their junior year. Students have multiple opportunities to take each of the tests before the end of the twelfth grade.


Georgia High School Writing Test

Students are required to take and pass the Georgia High School Writing Test. Initially taken in the fall of the junior year, this 2 hour test evaluates persuasive writing ability. Students have opportunities to retake the test before the end of the twelfth grade.

High School Completion

Students completing high school will receive one of the following:

       High School Diploma – document awarded to students certifying that they have satisfied attendance requirements, unit requirements and the state assessments requirements.

  High School Certificate – document awarded to students who do not complete all of the criteria for a diploma or who have not passed the state assessment requirements but have earned 23 units and meet all local board requirements.

  Special Education Diploma – document awarded to students with disabilities assigned to a special education program and have not met the state assessment requirements or who have not completed all of the requirements for a high school diploma but have completed their Individualized Education Programs (IEP).


Frequently Asked Questions by Students

 Why should I graduate from high school? Graduating from high school is the first step to your future. It demonstrates that you have mastered many of the skills necessary to managae your own life and make your own decisions. In addition, graduating from high school increases your earning power. The more you learn, the more you earn!  


National median weekly earnings

Less than high school diploma


High school diploma, no college


Some college or associate degree


Bachelor's degree


Advanced degree


 ( News Release, April 17, 2012, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Who is going to help me graduate successfully? School counselors, graduation coaches, teachers and administrators, family members and friends are all part of your graduation team. Talk to them, ask questions, and collect information. Do your part by attending classes and studying. Get involved in school activities.

What happens if I don’t pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests or the Georgia High School Writing Test? Students who do not pass all the tests but have met all other graduation requirements may be eligible for a high school certificate or a special education diploma. These students can return to retake the test(s) as often as they wish in order to qualify for a high school diploma.

 What are the high school requirements for transfer students? Students who transfer to a Georgia high school will follow the graduation requirements that were in effect in the year the transfer student was a first-time ninth grader.

Can middle school classes (6th, 7th , 8th grade) count towards high school graduation? Yes. Credit may be awarded for classes such as foreign language, mathematics, and science. Talk with a middle school counselor or high school counselor/graduation coach.

 Why should I take a foreign language? Students choosing a career that requires a college education should take 2 years of the same foreign language. Although foreign languages are not required for high school graduation, most colleges/universities do require foreign languages for admissions.

 Can American Sign Language be used to meet foreign language requirements? Yes, 2 units of American Sign Language will satisfy the requirement.

 What is the Georgia Virtual School Program? The Georgia Virtual School Program is provided by the Georgia Department of Education to offer instructional high school programs online for students. Preference is given to students enrolled at Georgia public schools.

 Do I have to take the SAT or ACT? Taking the SAT or ACT is not a requirement for graduation from a Georgia public high school. However many colleges and universities do require scores from the SAT or ACT for admissions. Be sure to check the admissions requirements for the school that interests you.

 After high school, what next? You have many options open to you after you graduate from high school.

Some schools may have additional requirements. Contact your school counselor or graduation coach for more information. This information is current as of January 2013. For the most current information visit our web site: .


Copyright 2013, Georgia Career Information Center, Division of Student Affairs, Georgia State University.  All rights reserved.
Partners include the Georgia Career Information Center, Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Department of Labor, Technical College System of Georgia, and University System of Georgia.