If you’re eager to demonstrate your academic potential and are planning to go to college, earning an advanced diploma may be an ideal goal for you. An advanced diploma in high school requires a more challenging course load and prepares you to be successful in college-level classes. Some colleges will even waive certain course requirements if you’re admitted with an advanced diploma from high school.
What’s the Difference Between an Advanced Diploma and a Diploma?
Requirements for an advanced diploma in high school vary by state. An advanced diploma includes a combination of standard subject areas and electives. Commonly, you’ll need to complete 26 credits or standard units in specific content areas. Some courses like English, math, science and history include a comprehensive exam to demonstrate academic proficiency.
Class Selection for an Advanced Diploma in High School
You’ll need to meet with a school counselor to ensure that your schedule is filled with the courses needed for an advanced diploma in high school. An advanced diploma is a prescribed schedule and doesn’t leave much room for electives.
You’ll want to look at the specific requirements in each category. For example, you’ll need to take four different science courses to satisfy the science requirement for most advanced diplomas. Typical class requirements are as follows:
- English – 4 credits
- Math – 4 credits
- Science – 4 credits
- History – 4 credits
- World Language – 3 credits
- Health and Physical Science – 2 credits
- Fine Arts, Career or Technical Education – 1 credit
- Economics & Personal Finance – 1 credit
- Electives – 3 credits
Additional Requirements for an Advanced Diploma in High School
Passing cumulative tests in English, math, science and history is an advanced diploma requirement. You may also need to pass one virtual course. Some programs require certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid.
If you’re a student with a disability, you may be eligible for a special accommodation or amended requirements. Talk to a counselor if you think that you might need special assistance with any of the requirements for an advanced diploma in high school.
Benefits of an Advanced Diploma
Colleges look favorably upon an Advanced Regents Diploma. The academic rigor of the classes involved demonstrate that you’re capable of tackling college courses. Some of your classes may even satisfy general education college requirements. For example, if you take three years of a foreign language, you may be able to skip taking a language in college if it’s required.
You’ll feel proud of an advanced diploma in high school because of the hard work and determination that’s required to meet the high standards of the degree. During graduation ceremonies, most schools offer special distinction for students who graduate with an advanced diploma.
States That Offer an Advanced Diploma
A standard diploma includes classes that meet the minimum requirements for high school graduation. Earning a standard diploma may require an overall competency exam in addition to completing the classes. An advanced diploma isn’t offered in every state. Here is a list of states that offer an advanced diploma in high school:
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
Some states offer other diploma endorsements like state distinction, advanced career, performance acknowledgement, STEM honors, civic engagement or career pathway.
Study Strategies for an Advanced Diploma in High School
If you want to pursue an advanced diploma, you’ll need to begin planning in middle school. Most advanced diplomas require four years of specific courses, so be sure to plan out your schedule in advance. Set aside time for studying each night and be sure that you aren’t overextended with extracurricular activities. Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Graduation Requirements: First Time Ninth Graders in 2013-14 through 2015-16
- Virginia Department of Education: Advanced Studies Diploma: Minimum Course & Credit Requirements
- High School for Health Professions & Human Services: Benefits of an Advanced Regents Diploma
- Education Commission of the States: High School Graduation Requirements
- If your state does not offer an advanced diploma, you may still be able to take AP courses to improve your GPA,
- Many states have International Baccalaureate Diplomas through the international IB program, even if they do not have their own version of an advanced diploma.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.