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Graduation Requirements | Chicago Public Schools

Graduation Requirements

CPS high school graduation requirements were developed to prepare students for success after high school. Students have flexibility in choosing courses to meet the 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.


2022 5-Year
Graduation Rate


2022 4-Year
Graduation Rate

Graduation Requirements

CPS’ graduation 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. View CPS’ High School Course Catalog to see how courses align to the graduation requirements below. 

Career Ed / JROTC

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

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

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Computer Science

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

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District-Wide Assessment (DWA)

Must take the SAT or DLM-AA

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Drivers Ed

Must complete a course that integrates Drivers Education into its curriculum

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3.0 total credits in any Academic courses

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English / ESL

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

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Financial Aid Application (HB 2719)

Must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the RISE Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid

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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

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Fine Arts

2.0 total credits may be earned in the same Fine Arts category or any combination of categories

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Health Ed

Must complete a course that integrates Health Education into its curriculum

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

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

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Post-Secondary Plan (LPS)

Must provide evidence of a plan for life beyond high school

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Public Law 195

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

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

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Service Learning

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

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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

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World Language

2.0 total credits in the same World Language

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Note: Please review CPS’ Minimum HS Graduation Requirements policy for in-depth details.
*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.

Graduation Requirements Guide

Download a summary copy of all graduation requirements with the guide below.


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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, and III (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 be the main factor in determining 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.

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.

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. More 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
(English I for ELs)
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
(examples of elective options)
Social Science (3) World Studies U.S. History
(Public Law 195)
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 (2) P.E. I
(Driver's Education)
(Personal Health and Wellness)
(eligible for exemption)
(Adventure Education)
(eligible for exemption)
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 - - AP Computer Science
(elective option)
Electives (3) - - P.E. III / JROTC III
  • Pre-Calculus
  • P.E. IV / JROTC IV
Service Learning Projects (2) Project #1 Civics Project
Consumer Education/
Financial Education unit of study
In accordance with Chicago Board of Education Guidelines
District-Wide Assessment (DWA) In accordance with Illinois State Board of Education Guidelines


  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.
  • * 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.