Education Commission of the States • 700 Broadway, Suite 810 • Denver, CO 80203-3442 • 303.299.3600 • Fax: 303.296.8332 • www.ecs.org
High School Graduation Requirements - Citizenship

This report highlights each state's high school graduation requirements in civics, citizenship or social studies. Please note that many school districts have graduation requirements in addition to those required by the state.

High school graduation requirements in civics or citizenship education
Alabama

“Four years (equivalent of four credit units) of social studies with an emphasis on history, music history, fine arts history, geography, economics, and political science. History courses shall include material on the history of the United States and the Constitution of the United States. The Legislature further requires that the curriculum content of American history shall include the teaching of important historical documents including the Constitution of the United States, The Declaration of Independence, The Emancipation Proclamation, The Federalist Papers, and other such documents important to the history and heritage of the United States.” (Ala. Code § 16-6B-2)

Alabama High School Diploma: requires 4 credits in Social Studies, one credit per year. “All four required credits in Social Studies shall comply with the current Alabama Course of Study.” (Ala. Admin. Code r. 290-3-1-.02(08)

All Alabama high school students must earn four credits in social studies for graduation. As part of these requirements, students must complete United States History to 1877 (one credit), United States History From 1877 to the Present (one credit), United States Government (one-half credit), and Economics (one-half credit). Alabama Course of Study: Social Studies, Bulletin 2004, No. 18; Adopted 2004; Effective 2005-2006 School Year.

 rev. 09/2008

Alaska

High School Graduation: A student must have completed at least three units of credit in social studies before graduation. Beginning January 1, 2009, the three units of social studies must include "one-half unit of credit in Alaska history or demonstration that the student meets the Alaska history performance standards." (4 AAC 06.075)

 rev. 09/2008

Arizona

Subject area course requirements for high school graduation include: One and one-half credits in instruction in the essentials, sources and history of the constitutions of the United States and Arizona and instruction in American institutions and ideals and in the history of Arizona, and one credit of world history/geography. (A.A.C. R7-2-302.04)

Grad requirement effective for the graduating class of 2012 include: “b. Three credits in social studies to include the following: i. One credit of American history, including Arizona history; ii. One credit of world history/geography. iii. One-half credit of American government, including Arizona government; and iv. One-half credit of economics.” (A.A.C. R7-2-302.01)

 rev. 09/2008

Arkansas

Common Core System Requirements for Graduation from High School: “Social Studies-- 3 units (1 unit of world history, 1 unit of U.S. history, 1/2 unit of civics or government) … The first graduating class who must meet the graduation requirements established in these rules and regulations is the graduating class of the year 2002.” (005 22 CARR 006)

 rev. 09/2008

California 3 courses in social studies, including a 1-semester course in American government and civics. (Cal Ed Code §51225.3.a.D)

 rev. 09/2008

Colorado

Public schools are required to teach a course on the history and civil government of the state of Colorado and the United States, to include the history, culture and contributions of minorities. Satisfactory completion of this course is required for high school graduation. (C.R.S. 22-1-104)

 rev. 09/2008

Connecticut 3 credits required in social studies including at least 0.5-credit course in civics and American government (Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-221a).

 rev. 09/2008

Delaware 3 credits in social studies (CDR 14-505.2.1)  Performance on the grade 11 Delaware Student Testing Program assessments in social studies must be included in the student's diploma index. (CDR 14-101.6.1.1)

 rev. 09/2008

District of Columbia 3.5 units reflecting 0.5 unit in District of Columbia government and history, 1 unit in U.S. history, 1 unit in world history, 0.5 unit in U.S. government, and 0.5 unit of world geography. Additionally, 100 hours of community service.
Florida 3 units requiring 1 unit world history, 1 unit U.S. history, 0.5 unit economics, and 0.5 unit American government. (Fla. Stat. § 1003.428)

 rev. 09/2008

Georgia

Three Carnegie units of credit shall be required in social studies for the High School Diploma, the Vocational Endorsement and the College Preparatory Endorsement. One Carnegie unit shall be required in United States history. One Carnegie unit shall be required from the world studies area, e.g., world history or world geography. World history shall be required for the College Preparatory Endorsement. One quarter or one semester of citizenship education (government) shall be required. One quarter or one semester of Principles of Economics/Business/Free Enterprise shall be required. (Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 160-4-2-.06)

Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) – a set of four curriculum based assessments that students must pass in order to earn a regular Georgia high school diploma. The tests are normally taken for the first time in spring of the 11th grade, and cover English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. (Ga. Comp. R. & Regs., r. 160-3-1-.07) High school graduation test in social studies includes American Government/Civics (17-19% of exam items).

 rev. 09/2008

Hawaii 4 credits social studies which shall include 0.5 unit modern history of Hawaii and 0.5 unit of participation in a democracy. (Hawaii State Board of Education Policy 4540)

 rev. 09/2008

Idaho Five credits required including government (2 credits), U.S. history (2 credits), and economics (1 credit). Current world affairs and geography will be integrated into all social studies instruction. Courses such as geography, sociology, world affairs and world history may be offered as electives, not to be counted as a social studies requirement. (IDAPA 08.02.03 107.06)

 rev. 09/2008

Illinois One of the prerequisites to receiving a high school diploma is "[T]wo years of social studies, of which at least one year must be history of the United States or a combination of history of the United States and American government" (105 ILCS 5/27-22.a.4) 

“American patriotism and the principles of representative government, as enunciated in the American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and the proper use and display of the American flag, shall be taught in all public schools and other educational institutions supported or maintained in whole or in part by public funds. No student shall receive a certificate of graduation without passing a satisfactory examination upon such subjects.” (105 ILCS 5/27-3)

rev. 09/2008

Indiana 4 credits in social studies, including 2 in United States history and 1 in U.S. government (511 IAC 6-7-6.1.b)

Sec. 2. (a) Each public and nonpublic high school shall provide a required course that is: (1) not less than one (1) year of school work; and (2) in the: (A) historical; (B) political; (C) civic;(D) sociological; (E) economical; and (F) philosophical; aspects of the constitutions of Indiana and the United States. (b) The state board shall:(1) prescribe the course described in this section and the course's appropriate outlines; and (2) adopt the necessary textbooks for uniform instruction. (c) A high school student may not receive a diploma unless the student has successfully completed the interdisciplinary course described in this section. (IC 20-30-5-2)

Sec. 4. (a) Each public school and nonpublic school shall provide within the two (2) weeks preceding a general election for all students in grades 6 through 12 five (5) full recitation periods of class discussion concerning: (1) the system of government in Indiana and in the United States; (2) methods of voting; (3) party structures; (4) election laws; and (5) the responsibilities of citizen participation in government and in elections. (b) A student may not receive a high school diploma unless the student has completed a two (2) semester course in American history. (IC 20-30-5-4)

 rev. 09/2008 

Iowa "All students in grades nine through twelve must, as a condition of graduation, complete a minimum of one-half unit of United States government and one unit of United States history and receive instruction in the government of Iowa." (281 IAC 12.5(256))

The board of directors of each local public school district and the authorities in charge of each nonpublic school shall require that all students in grades nine through twelve complete, as a condition of graduation, instruction in American history and the governments of Iowa and the United States, including instruction in voting statutes and procedures, voter registration requirements, the use of paper ballots and voting machines in the election process, and the method of acquiring and casting an absentee ballot.(Iowa Code §280.9A)

Beginning with students in the 2010-2011 school year graduating class, high school graduation requirements for all students in school districts and accredited nonpublic schools include satisfactory completion of three years of social studies. (Iowa Code 256.7(26))

 rev. 09/2008

Kansas “Each local board of education shall adopt a written policy specifying that pupils are eligible for graduation only upon completion of at least the following requirements: … (2) three units of history and government, which shall include world history; United States history; United States government, including the Constitution of the United States; concepts of economics and geography; and, except as otherwise provided in S.B.R. 91-31-32, a course of instruction in Kansas history and government;” (KAR 91-31-35)

 rev. 09/2008

Kentucky 3 credits social studies, including U.S. History, economics, government, world geography and world civilization (704 KAR 3:305 §1)

Minimum requirements for high school graduation: Beginning with the graduating class of 2012, minimum requirements for social studies are: “three credits to include the content strands of historical perspective, including U.S. History, geography, economics, government and civics, and cultures and societies.” (704 KAR 3:305 §2)

 rev. 09/2008

Louisiana 3 units of social studies, including 0.5 unit of civics. (La. R.S. 17:274.1)

Graduation Exit Examination (GEE 21) includes assessment of social studies skills. (LAC 28:CXI.1301)

 rev. 09/2008

Maine

Two years of social studies and history, including American History and Government (20-A M.R.S. §4722)

“One credit in American history and government shall be required as part of a comprehensive course that includes instruction in the importance of voting, the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship, the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. (CMR 05-071-127 §7.02)

 rev. 09/2008

Maryland 3 credits of social studies are required: 1 in U.S. history, 1 in world history and 1 in local, state and national government. (COMAR 13A.03.02.04)

 rev. 09/2008

Massachusetts All public high school students required to complete courses in American history and civics although state law does not specify the actual number of required units/credits. (ALM GL ch.71, §2)

 rev. 09/2008
 

Michigan

Three units including one credit in United States history and geography, one credit in world history and geography, ½ credit in economics, and ½ credit in civics. (MCL 380.1278a)

The required civics class “shall include the form and functions of the federal, state, and local governments and shall stress the rights and responsibilities of citizens.” (MCL §1166(2)

 rev. 09/2008

Minnesota

Students are required to complete 3.5 credits, “encompassing at least United States history, geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics --OR-- three credits of social studies encompassing at least United States history, geography, government and citizenship, world history and one-half credit of economics taught in a school's social studies, business, or agricultural education department.” (Minn. Stat. §120B.024.4)

“The commissioner in the 2010-2011 school year must revise and align the state's academic standards and high school graduation requirements in social studies to require that students satisfactorily complete the revised social studies standards beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. The commissioner must implement a review of the academic standards and related benchmarks in social studies beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.” (Minn. Stat. § 120B.023)

 rev. 09/2008

Mississippi

4 Carnegie units of social studies to include U.S. History (1) and U.S. Government (1/2). (Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards, 2008, Appendix A-3, Standard 20)

Passage of the end-of-course test for "U.S. History from 1877" (including civic competencies) is required for high school graduation as part of the Subject Area Testing Program. (State Board Policy 3600)

 rev. 09/2008

Missouri

“At least two units selected to enable students to master important knowledge and skills in the areas of civic knowledge and responsibility; economic systems and functions; governmental functions; geography; world history; and American history. One of the two units must be American history, and the equivalent of one-half unit must be in government.” Effective for the graduating class of 2010 and thereafter, 3 units are required. (5 CSR 50-345.3)

All schools are required to provide regular instruction in the constitutions of the United States and of the state of Missouri and in American history and institutions. “No pupil shall receive a certificate of graduation from any public or private school other than private trade schools unless he has satisfactorily passed an examination on the provisions and principles of the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and in American history and American institutions.” (§ 170.011 R.S.Mo.)

“To be eligible for graduation from high school, a student must satisfactorily pass a test or tests on the provisions and principles of the U.S. and Missouri constitutions and in American history and institutions at some time(s) during grades 7-12. The design, content and passing criteria for the test(s) are at the discretion of local school districts. … “Students must also pass the course or courses designated as containing the required instruction in the institutions, branches and functions of federal, state and local government and in the electoral processes.” (Graduation Requirements for Students in Missouri Public Schools, page 27. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)

 rev. 09/2008

Montana Two units of social studies (Mont. Admin. R. 10.55.905)

 rev. 09/2008

Nebraska Until the school year 2014-2015, graduation requirements are determined at the local level. By the 2014-2015 school year, school districts are required to adopt and implement graduation requirements that include "30 credit hours of social studies/history with course content that includes civics/government, geography, United States and world history, and economic concepts."

rev. 03/2010

Nevada

“Three units of credit in social studies, including, without limitation: (1) American government; (2) American history; and (3) World history or geography.” (NRS 389.018)

Satisfactory completion of courses in American government and American history is required for graduation. (NRS 389.035).

 rev. 09/2008

New Hampshire

20 credits required for graduation include: one credit in United States and New Hampshire history, one-half credit in United States and New Hampshire government/civics, one-half credit in world history, global studies or geography. (N.H. Code Admin. R. Ann. Chapter Ed 306.27m)

 rev. 09/2008

New Jersey

At least 15 credits in social studies are required, including a two-year course of study in the history of the United States and the state of New Jersey, “five credits in world history; and the integration of civics, economics, geography and global content in all course offerings” (N.J.A.C. 6a:8-5.1)

A 2-year course of study in history is mandated for all students. “The superintendent of schools in each school district shall prepare and recommend to the board of education of the district, and the board of education shall adopt a suitable two-year course of study in the history of the United States, including the history of New Jersey, to be given to each student during the last four years of high school. Said course of study shall include materials recommended by the commissioner dealing with the history of the Negro in America.” (N.J. Stat. § 18A:35-1)

 rev. 09/2008

New Mexico

High school graduation requirements include “three and one-half units in social science, which shall include United States history and geography, world history and geography and government and economics, and one-half unit of New Mexico history.” (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 22-13-1.1-I)

“Until July 1, 2010, a student who has not passed a state graduation examination in the subject areas of reading, English, mathematics, writing, science and social science shall not receive a high school diploma. The state graduation examination on social science shall include a section on the constitution of the United States and the constitution of New Mexico.” (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 22-13-1.1-K)

“Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, a student shall not receive a New Mexico diploma of excellence if the student has not demonstrated competence in the subject areas of mathematics, reading and language arts, writing, social studies and science, including a section on the constitution of the United States and the constitution of New Mexico, based on a standards-based assessment or assessments or a portfolio of standards-based indicators established by the department by rule.” (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 22-13-1.1-L)

 rev. 09/2008

New York

Four units of credit in social studies, to include one unit of credit in American history and one half unit of credit in participation in government and one half unit of credit in economics or their equivalent. To qualify for a Regents or a local diploma, students must pass the Regents exam in United States History and Government. (8 NYCRR §100.5)

rev. 09/2008 

North Carolina 3 credits in Civics and Economics, U.S. history and World History required for all courses of study except 2 credits in Government/U.S. History and Advocacy/Problem Solving required for Occupational Preparation course of study. (16 N.C.A.C. 6D.0503.e.1)

"Local boards of education shall require that high school students demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nation's founding and related documents in order to receive a certificate or diploma of graduation from high school." (N.C. Gen. Stat. §115C-81.g.2)

"Local boards of education shall include among the requirements for graduation from high school a passing grade in all courses that include primary instruction in the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and its amendments, and the most important of the Federalist Papers." (N.C. Gen. Stat. §115C-81.g.3)

 rev. 09/2008

North Dakota

Effective through June 30, 2010, high school graduation requirements include four units of social studies , including : a) one unit of world history, b) one unit of United States history, and c) one unit of problems of democracy or one-half unit of United States government and one-half unit of economics. Effective after June 30, 2010, high school graduation requirements include three units of social studies, including: a) one unit of United States history; b) one-half unit of United States government and one-half unit of economics; or one unit of problems of democracy; and c) one unit or two one-half units of any other social studies which may include civics, civilization, geography and history, multicultural studies, North Dakota studies, psychology, sociology and world history. (N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-02.1)

 rev. 09/2008

Ohio Students must pass the Ohio Graduation Test in social studies and meet the following curriculum requirements to earn a diploma: 3 units of social studies, "which shall include both of the following: (a) American history, one-half unit; (b) American government, one-half unit."(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3313.603)

Every high school shall include in the requirements for graduation from any curriculum one unit of American history and government, including a study of the constitutions of the United States and of Ohio.(Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3313.60.C)

 rev. 09/2008

Oklahoma "Social Studies - 3 units or sets of competencies, to consist of 1 unit or set of competencies of United States History, 1/2 to 1 unit or set of competencies of United States Government, 1/2 unit or set of competencies of Oklahoma History, and 1/2 to 1 unit or set of competencies which may include, but are not limited to, the following courses: a. World History, b. Geography, c. Economics, d. Anthropology, or e. other social studies courses with content and/or rigor equal to or above United States History, United States Government, and Oklahoma History" (Okla. Stat. tit. 70, §11-103.6-4) (Okla. Admin. Code §210:35-9-31.2)

Each student who completes the instruction for … United States History … at the secondary level shall complete an end-of-instruction test to measure for attainment in the appropriate state academic content standards in order to graduate from high school. (Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 1210.508.A.7)
Oregon 3 units of credit in history, civics, geography and economics (OR. Admin. R. 581-022-1130.2)
Pennsylvania School districts must ensure that students are able to demonstrate proficiency in a number of subject areas, including civics and government, based on state or local standards. However, there is no course requirement.

"Social studies (civics and government, economics, geography and history, including the history and cultures of the United States, the Commonwealth and the world)." (PA. Stat. Ann. tit. 22, §4.23.c.4)
Rhode Island The state provides guidelines, but local education agencies set requirements. (Regulations of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education Regarding Public High Schools and Ensuring Literacy for Students Entering High School, 2003)
South Carolina 3 units. 1 unit in U.S. History and the Constitution; 0.5 unit in U.S. Government, 0.5 unit in economics, and 1 unit of social studies other. (43 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. §259)
"All high schools, colleges, and universities in this State that are sustained or in any manner supported by public funds shall give instruction in the essentials of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, including the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals, and no student in any such school, college, or university may receive a certificate of graduation without previously passing a satisfactory examination upon the provisions and principles of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, and, if a citizen of the United States, satisfying the examining power of his loyalty thereto." (S.C. Code Ann. §59-29-120 (A))
South Dakota 3 units of social studies, including minimum of 1 unit U.S. history, 0.5 unit U.S. government and 0.5 unit geography (South Dakota Board of Education)
Tennessee 3 units of Social Studies, including U.S. history, world history/geography, economics and government (Rules of the State Board of Education: Chapter 0520-1-3-.06)
Texas Social studies requirements: 1 credit world history or world geography, 1 credit U.S. history since Reconstruction and 0.5 credit of U.S. government. (19 Tex. Admin. Code §74.11)

Satisfactory performance on the grade 11 exam is a prerequisite for high school graduation. (Tex. [Educ.] Code Ann. tit. 2 § 39.023-025)

Utah Social Studies requirement: 2.5 units of credit: Geography for Life (0.5 credit), World Civilizations (0.5 credit), U.S. History (1.0 credit), U.S. Government and Citizenship (0.5 credit) (Utah Admin. Code R277-700-6)
Vermont Three years of civics, history and the social sciences, one year of which shall be in U.S. history and government (Vermont State Board of Education Rules Series 2000, #2120.8.7)
Virginia 3 units history and social sciences (U.S. and Virginia history; U.S. and Virginia government). Beginning 2007, 4 units will be required.
Washington 2.5 Credits: one credit in United States history and government, one-half credit in Washington state history and government, including the state Constitution and one credit which can be filled with an elective civics course. (Wash. Admin. Code § 180-51-075)

The study of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Washington shall be a condition prerequisite to graduation. (Wash. Rev. Code § 28A.230.170)

West Virginia 3 credits for students entering 9th grade in the school years 1999-2000 through 2003-2004: United States to 1900, World Studies to 1900, Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. For students entering grade 9 in the school year 2005-2006 and thereafter, the requirement is 4 credits, with an additional course Civics/Government. (W. Va. Code St. R. §126-042 Chart V A and C)
Wisconsin 3 credits of social studies which incorporate instruction in state and local government (Wi. Stat. §118.30)
Wyoming 3 school years of social studies, including history, American government and economic systems and institutions (WY ST 21-2-304), as well as passage of an exam on the principles of the constitutions of the United States and the state of Wyoming (WY ST 21-9-102).

This database will be updated as we learn of policy changes. If you have comments about the information presented or the database, please contact Jennifer Piscatelli at jpiscatelli@ecs.org or 303.299.3608. Creation of this database was made possible through the support of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


© 2013 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education.
To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please fax a request to the attention of the ECS Communications Department, 303.296.8332 or e-mail ecs@ecs.org.
Helping State Leaders Shape Education Policy