How Many Credits to Graduate High School in California?

In California, the path to graduation is defined by a set of minimum credit requirements established by the state Department of Education (CDE). 

These requirements ensure that students acquire the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for success in higher education or the workforce.

To graduate from high school in California, students must complete a minimum of 13 courses encompassing a diverse range of subjects.

This article provides insights into the credit requirements you must fulfill to graduate high school in California.

Let’s quickly get into the details.

Understanding Credit Requirements in California

To graduate from high school in California, students must complete at least 13 courses encompassing a diverse range of subjects. 

In California, high school students must accumulate a minimum number of credits across different subjects to graduate. 

California- How Many Credits Do You Need To Graduate High School in California

These credits are a reflection of completed coursework and signify a student’s proficiency in various academic areas. 

The California Department of Education mandates specific credit requirements, ensuring students meet graduation standards.

Here is a detailed breakdown of California’s course credit requirements for high school each year. 

Course Credits Required
Total Credits 13.00
Science 2.00
Social Studies 3.00

In addition to these core courses, students must also earn elective credits to meet the total credit requirement for graduation. 

The number of elective credits varies depending on the school district but typically ranges from 210-230 credits.

Credit Breakdown:

The minimum credits needed for graduation in California typically include:

Course Credits required 
English /Language Arts 40 credits
Mathematics30 credits
Science20 credits
Social Studies/History 30 credits
Physical Education 20 credits
Electives70 credits
  • English/Language Arts: Students need around 40 credits in English to graduate. These credits are usually spread across four years, encompassing courses in literature, composition, and language studies.
  • Mathematics: Approximately 30 credits in math are typically required. This includes courses in algebra, geometry, calculus, and other math-related subjects.
  • Science: Students are generally required to complete around 20 credits in science, which may include biology, chemistry, physics, and other science disciplines.
  • Social Studies/History: This category usually requires about 30 credits. Courses in history, government, economics, and other social sciences contribute to fulfilling this requirement.
  • Physical Education: California mandates roughly 20 credits in physical education, encompassing activities promoting physical fitness and health.
  • Electives: Additional elective credits, usually around 70, allow students to explore other areas of interest like arts, foreign languages, technology, or vocational courses.

Other than this, many schools and districts in California have additional course requirements beyond the state criteria. 

These might include an extra year of math or science, technology, career education, and health courses.

In such cases, you can check with the faculty or counselors to ensure they meet all local graduation requirements.

Exit Exams

Beyond credit completion, California high school students might need to fulfill additional graduation criteria, such as passing specific exams or meeting competency standards in subjects like English and Mathematics.

For instance, the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) was a prior requirement for graduation, but as of 2015, it was suspended. 

However, students may still need to pass the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) exams or fulfill other local assessments to demonstrate proficiency in key subjects.

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The number of credits required to graduate high school in California varies by school district, but the minimum state requirement is 220 Carnegie units. 

This is equivalent to 22 one-year courses or 44 semester courses. In addition to completing the required courses, students must also meet certain other requirement. 

Lastly, students must also pass an exit examination, such as the CAHSEE or the CAAs.


How many credits do I need to graduate high school in California?

To graduate high school in California, you need to earn between 210 and 230 local units. A local unit is equivalent to one Carnegie unit, which is a standard unit of credit used to measure high school coursework.

Are there any exams required for graduate high school in California?

Yes, students must pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) or the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in English language arts and mathematics to fulfill graduation requirements.

Can students take additional elective courses?

Yes, students can take additional elective courses beyond the required subjects to fulfill the total credit requirement for graduation. These electives might include additional courses in the core subjects, career and technical education, or other areas of interest.

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