Vermont requires high school students to meet minimum criteria to complete high school and earn a diploma. The goal of the Vermont Board of Education is to ensure that graduates from public high school in the state are prepared to function competitively in the world. Graduation from a public high school is a momentous occasion for students and it is the starting point for future career success.

Carnegie Units

Vermont requires students to complete 20 Carnegie units to graduate high school. The Carnegie unit is a measure of the amount of time students spend on a particular subject. The measurement is not used in higher education and represents the amount of time high school students spend in contact with the subject and teacher.

The number of units the student must accumulate to graduate are dispersed among academic and other courses.


The 20 Carnegie units must include specific academic courses to graduate high school in Vermont. Students must complete four years of English courses, which can include reading, literature, English and creative writing courses.

The requirements include three years of history and social science courses, which must include at least one year of U.S. history and government. Courses may also include geography, economics and government courses to meet the graduation requirements.

Students must complete three years of mathematics to graduate high school in Vermont. Math courses include basic mathematics, algebra I and II, statistics, geometry, pre-calculus and calculus courses.

Three years of science are necessary to graduate high school in Vermont. Courses may include biology, earth science, chemistry, physical science and anatomy.

Students must complete one year of art to graduate high school in Vermont.

Physical Education

The Vermont Board of Education requires students to take one and a half years of physical education to meet high school graduation requirements.

GED Testing

The General Education Development (GED) tests allow students to meet the requirements for a high school diploma by testing in five different standard examinations. In Vermont, students are eligible to take the examinations at age 16, but parental permission is required for 16- and 17-year-old students.

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