Top of Page

Graduation Requirements | Chicago Public Schools

Graduation Requirements

As a CPS student or family, graduating from high school is the culmination of years of hard work and planning that will launch you into the next phase of your life in college or a career. But in order to get there, there are certain requirements that students must meet.


Graduation rates among CPS students have been increasing steadily for the past seven years. As a district, we track these rates in two categories, students who graduate in 4 years and students who gradate in 5 years. This 4-5 year range is the ideal length of time needed to complete all the requirements needed to graduate.


2023 5-Year
Graduation Rate


2023 4-Year
Graduation Rate

CPS Minimum High School Graduation Requirements

The following requirements were written with the intention of preparing our students for success in a variety of experiences after high school. While these requirements align to the entrance requirements for the state universities of Illinois, they were also written to prepare students for a variety of careers right out of high school. There is great flexibility in the exact courses that schools offer and students take to meet these requirements. To see how all courses in CPS’ High School Course Catalog align to the graduation requirements below, please visit CPS' High School Course Catalog.

Credit-Bearing Graduation Requirements
(earned by completing coursework; 24 credits are required in total)

Career Ed / JROTC

1.0 credit in any Career Technical Education and/or JROTC III / IV courses.

Briefcase Icon


0.5 credit in Civics or AP Government (must include 1 Service Learning Project).

Column Icon

Computer Science

1.0 credit in Computer Science (recommended in 9th grade).

Laptop Icon

English / ESL

English I (1.0 credit); English II (1.0 credit); English III (1.0 credit); English IV (1.0 credit).

Book Icon

Fine Arts

2.0 total credits may be earned in the same Fine Arts category or any combination of categories (Dance, Music, Drama/Theatre, Visual Art).

Palette Icon


Algebra (1.0 credit); Geometry (1.0 credit); Advanced Algebra/Trig (1.0 credit).

Please Note: Students who earned HS competency or credit in elementary school, still need to earn three credits of math while in HS. i.e. Geometry (1.0 Credit); Advanced Algebra/Trig (1.0 Credit); Advanced Math courses (1.0)

Calculator Icon


2.0 total credits must be earned in any PE class. Students must pass Health & Driver’s Education. JROTC also satisfies this requirement.

However, please note Per CPS Physical Education Policy, all high school students shall be scheduled in a physical education course each semester in every grade level (9-12) except when an exception has been authorized.

Basketball Icon


Biology (1.0 credit); Chemistry (1.0 credit); Physics (1.0 credit).

Atom Icon

Social Science

World Studies (1.0 credit); U.S. History (1.0 credit); 0.5 credit minimum in Civics or AP Government (recommended one full year); 0.5 semester in any other Social Science course.

Globe Icon

World Language

2.0 total credits in the same World Language.

World Language Icon


3.0 total credits in any academic courses after meeting graduation requirements.

Trumpet Icon

Non-Credit-Bearing Graduation Requirements
(completed as part of coursework or other activities)

District-Wide Assessment (DWA)

Must take the SAT or DLM-AA

Checklist Icon

Financial Education (Formerly Consumer Ed)

Must complete a course that integrates a unit of study on Financial Education, aligned to state standards, into its curriculum.

Chart Icon

Financial Aid Application

Must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the RISE Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (Public Act 101-0180).

Tablet Icon

Drivers Ed

Must complete a course that integrates Drivers Education into its curriculum.

Car Icon

Health Ed

Must complete a course that integrates Health Education into its curriculum.

Apple Icon

Postsecondary Plan (Learn.Plan.Succeed.)

Must provide evidence of a plan for life beyond high school.

Graduation Cap Icon

U.S. Constitution

Must complete a course that integrates the U.S. and Illinois constitutions into its curriculum.

Gavel Icon

Service Learning

Two classroom integrated (2) Service Learning Projects; one project must be completed in a Civics or AP Govt course.

Lightbulb Icon


  1. In most cases, 1 credit is equivalent to 1 year in a particular course. However, there are courses in which other than 1 credit may be earned in a particular course. Credits from a previous school may transfer and be applied toward CPS’ graduation requirements. If credits are from a school outside of the United States, please contact Beata Arceo at to make an appointment for foreign transcript evaluation.
  2. The Dual Enrollment program allows eligible students to earn college credit while attending high school. The college credit earned is transferable to many four year colleges or universities.
  3. Students enrolled in a Career & Technical Education (CTE) program are recommended to start taking these courses in the 10th grade as many CTE programs are 3 years in length.

Course Equivalents and Alternative Requirements

College Credit

CPS high school students can take rigorous college-level academic classes and earn college credit at no cost prior to starting their postsecondary education. CPS is committed to helping students get a head start on earning college credit while they are still in high school. View Programming Pathways.

English Learner

An English Learner (EL) will take English as a Second Language (ESL) taught by an ELA- and ESL endorsed teacher and all core content courses are aligned to academic standards and taught by an ESL and/or bilingual-endorsed teacher, according to the EL-program eligibility. Please note that ESL I, II, III and Transition English I-IV (not ESL Communication) courses count toward the four years of English required for graduation. When those courses are taught as a double-period, only one of the credits will count toward the English requirement and the other one will count as an elective. The English Literacy Proficiency Level (LitPL), based on the most recent screener or ACCESS assessment, will determine placement in the ESL course sequence. ELs enrolled in a Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) program, also receive native language or sheltered English instruction in core content courses, as appropriate. ELs in a Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI) receive sheltered English instruction in all core content courses, as appropriate. Learn More about the English Learners Program.

Diverse Learner

Diverse Learners receiving special education and related services under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are expected to graduate with a regular diploma by the last day of the school year within which the student celebrates their 22nd birthday. Diverse Learners are expected to meet the same graduation requirements as their non-disabled peers. Such graduation criteria may, however, be modified by the student’s IEP. For additional information regarding curriculum, grades, promotion, and graduation for diverse learners, please refer to the IDEA Procedural Manual. Please reach out to your school counselor or special education case manager with any questions and concerns. Learn more about special education.

Sample Course of Study

The course of study below lists sample high school courses taken during each grade level. The graduation requirements satisfied during each grade level are also listed. The actual courses taken and graduation requirements satisfied annually may differ as this depends on: 1) the courses offered at each school and 2) each student’s particular goals and interests. Parents and students are encouraged to review CPS’ High School Course Catalog and consult with the school’s guidance department to select courses that support their long-term goals. Further information can also be found online at

Subject Area (Credits Required) 9th Grade 10th Grade 11th Grade 12th Grade
English / English as a second language (ESL) (4) English I (ESL I) English II (ESL II) English III (ESL III) English IV
(Transitional English I)
Mathematics (3) Algebra Geometry Advanced Algebra/ Trigonometry Pre Calculus/AP Calculus (examples of elective options)
Science (3) Biology Chemistry Physics Environmental Science/ AP Biology/AP Chemistry/Dual Enrollment Science course
(examples of elective options)
Social Science (3) World Studies U.S. History
(Public Law 195: US Constitution)
0.5 Civics required
(suggested 1.0)
(Service Learning Project)
AP US History/
AP Government
(examples of elective options)
World Language (2) - - French I French II
Fine Arts (2) - Art I Art II AP 2-D Art and Design, AP 3-D Art and Design, or AP Drawing
(examples of elective options)
Physical Education/ JROTC (2) PE I (includes Health)
Any JROTC Level I Course (entry course
PE II (includes at least 30 hours of Driver Ed. Classroom)
Any JROTC Level I or II *courses must be sequential*
PE-Strength/Condition I
Any JROTC Level 1, II or III
*courses must be sequential*
PE Personal Fitness and Wellness
Any JROTC Level I, II, III, IV
*courses must be sequential*
Health and Driver Education PE I (1 semester of PE/1 semester of Health) PE II (1 semester of PE/1 semester of Driver Education) - -
Career Education (1) - 1.0 credit in a CTE pathway, example Health Sciences 2.0 credits (double period), example Health Sciences 2.0 credits (double period) example Health Sciences
Computer Science (1) Exploring Computer Science 1.0 credit in a CS pathway, example AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP)
(elective option)
1.0 credit in a CS pathway, example AP CSA
(elective option)
AP Computer Science/ Dual Enrollment CS course
(elective option)
Electives (3) 3.0 total credits in any Academic courses
Download a summary copy of all graduation requirements with the guide below.