Understanding High School Credits 

High School credits can be a confusing topic, but it doesn’t need to be. Here is a simple breakdown that applies to most states.*

One Credit: 

  • Complete at least 75% of a textbook. 
  • 1 Semester-long class at a community college
  • 1 Year-long online high-school class 
  • 1 Semester-long online class through a college
  • Complete 120-150 hours of study (year-long academic course) 

You do not have to track every minute of study everyday, unless it benefits your student. In order to plan and track this by calculating 150 hours year per/how many weeks there are in your school year to figure out how man hours per week your student must study the subject. Then you can break down how much time they should spend each day on the subject

In order to issue credit based on time studied, calculate time as follows. 

For example: 150 hours/36 week school year = 4.16 hours of study per week. 

      • For a 4 day school week: 4.16 hours/4 days = 1.04 x 60 =  62.4 minutes per day. 
      • For a 5 day school week: 4.16 hours /5 days= .832 x 60= 49.92 minutes per day.

For a Science class with a lab, complete 180 hours (150 hours of course work + 30 hours of lab work.) 

* If you are in doubt about how to award credits based on a textbook you are using contact the publisher and ask them how many credits they have assigned to the course. 

Half Credit:

These are usually given for Electives, Government/Civics/Economics/PE/Fine Arts Courses. 

60 hours of course study 

1 Semester Class

How Many Credits Should He/She Complete?

Work together to come up with a plan to cover 20-30 high school credits before graduation (see below to know how many to complete). It is very important to plan your child’s high school career according to what their post High School plans are. 

  • For students who will not be going to college, make sure that you meet your state’s requirements for a high school diploma. You can check here to find your state’s minimum requirements. 


  • Total suggested credits recommendation: 20-22
    • English- 4
    • Math-3
    • Science-3
    • History-3
    • Electives- 6 (Fine Arts- 1-2 &  Physical Education 1-2)


  • For students who are college bound, ensure  that they complete 24-28 credits.
    • English- 4
    • Math-3-4
    • Science-3-4
    • History-3-4
    • World Language- 2-4
    • Electives- 6-8(Fine Arts- 1-2 &  Physical Education 1-2)


  • For students who want to go to a highly competitive college, they should complete 26-30 credits.
    •   English- 4
    •  Math-3-4
    •  Science-3-4
    •  History-3-4
    •  World Language- 3-4
    •  Electives- 7-9 (Fine Arts- 2 &  Physical Education 2)

Always check with the colleges that your student is interested in going to, in order to see what they require for admission and create your plan accordingly to meet those requirements. 

Many families continue with a non-traditional high school schedule incorporating job shadowing, volunteering, outside lessons, and home business work into their schools, if you do this be sure to track hours that are spent on these activities so that you can issue credit for them. Also, be sure to establish how a grade will be awarded before he/she starts the activity so they can do their best to earn a good grade that will help their GPA. 

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