Homeschool Graduation Requirements in North Carolina 25

Graduation Requirements for Homeschoolers in NC

As Home Educators in North Carolina, we have a lot of freedom to choose what subjects we will teach and how we will teach them. Technically, as the administrator of your home education program, you chose what you will require of your students in order to graduate from your program.

The public school guidelines can be a useful tool that helps us to be certain our homeschoolers are prepared to meet the requirements of colleges and so that our students’ education will be appropriate for their future occupational needs. Some students will want to obtain an apprenticeship or go directly into an occupation so you may want to tailor your program to their specific needs.

Students entering 9th Grade in 2012-2013 or later who know they want to go directly into an occupation can follow the NC Future Ready Occupational Path which requires 4 credits in English, 3 in Math, 2 in Science, 2 in Social Studies, no foreign language requirements, 6 electives, 4 Occupational Training credits and 1 credit of Physical Education for a total of 22 credits for students to graduate. (Plus any requirements of the local school board, or in our case, parent’s school requirements)

Parent of students on a path to college may want to consider using the guidelines to ensure that their student has obtained the credits they will need in order to be accepted into whatever colleges they are interested in attending in the future. If you already have an idea of what schools interest them, you can go to the colleges’ website to see what they require.

If you just want to be generally sure they will be prepared, then again, the NC State guidelines can be helpful. You can still choose materials and activities that complement your student’s learning style and you can at least be assured they will be able to enroll in a state school, or a community college. Most private colleges have similar requirements, so it is a good idea to use these credit requirements as a guideline.

Students graduating from public high school in NC this year* (NC State Colleges require the following credits) will need to have 4 credits each in both English and Math. Mathematics should include the subjects of Algebra I & II, Geometry and their choice of another advanced Math (beyond Al. II)  such as Trigonometry, “Statistics and Probability” or an “Integrated Math” course such as “Advanced Functions and Modeling” (not Calculus alone).

Science and Social Studies; 3 credits each (one Science should be with lab-work to meet the minimum UNC college requirements) . Social Studies units must include; Civics and Economics, US History and World History.

World Languages are not required for high school graduation, but are a requirement of admission to the UNC system- 2 credits in a language other than English, and many other colleges want to see a foreign language on your transcripts as well. These are considered in the 6 elective credits students need.

1 credit in Health and Physical Education and a total of 6 Elective credits are required for graduation from NC public schools. Electives include 2 elective credits of any combination from either:Career and Technical Education (CTE),  Arts Education, or World Languages (2 years of the same foreign language studies  satisfy the credits in this elective category). 4 elective credits are strongly recommended from the following: Career and Technical Education (CTE),  JROTC,  Arts Education (e.g. dance, music, theater arts, visual arts) or any other subject area such as Social Studies, Science, Mathematics or English. The total required credits add up to 21 credit hours plus any local school district requirements.

*Students who are juniors this year (if they entered 9th grade in 2012-2013 school year, then they entered after full common core standards were implemented in the NC public schools, so standards are slightly different from those graduating this year or in previous years) are required to have all of the above, and one additional social studies course in American History or Government for a total of 22 credits.

I have taught three high schoolers at home- one graduated in 2013 and is attending at the University of NC School of the Arts, one graduates this year and my other high schooler is in 10th grade this year. I followed the above as a guideline for how my school would offer credits, except that I required all the core courses each year and did not consider an additional core course as an elective like the Common Core Standards do for the college path students in some years.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the common core standards, but I am simply recommending that you use them as a tool to help you determine what courses you will teach and so that you can see what colleges will be looking for when your high school student begins the application process.

I hope you have found this rather long post informative, but if you find you still have questions, feel free to comment here or email me by clicking my profile on the home page!

I would love your questions, other suggestions or comments~

Merit K

Questions About Homeschooling? Feedback on the Website? Let Me Know:

25 thoughts on “Homeschool Graduation Requirements in North Carolina

  • Jennifer H Nichols Post author

    I need to graduate my grandson who was in public school until this year. He had an IEP and was getting a modified diploma as it states on his transcript. He only needed 1 elective to meet his 22 credit requirement. In order for him to receive his diploma what will be required?

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      Jennifer – hey there. If your grandson is under 18 then you can set up a homeschool for him for this last year in order to award him his diploma. You can decide what courses he needs to take to complete your homeschool program, but I assume you want to have him finish up his elective at the very least. This could be a great time to help him with life skills and choose an elective based on his academic needs, interests and career track – maybe an internship or work with a trade instead of using a traditional curriculum, or a life skills course for learning things like budgeting, checking accounts, savings and more. You do need to set up a homeschool at the NCDNPE. If he is over 18, then under NC laws, you would not be able to homeschool him for this last year. Hope this helped!

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      HI Christina – your homeschool program awards a credit for a certain amount of work done (usually 120-180 hours) on each course, as well as other appropriate criteria (projects, tests, quizzes, reports etc.). Your homeschool (like other private schools) does not need to be “accredited” by any agency in order to provide credit for coursework done by your student. You calculate your student’s grades and then figure their GPA based on the average of their grades, just like they would in “school”. You document all that information for each subject for the four years they attend your homeschool highschool (your transcript) and then graduate them when they have met the requirements your school has for them to get their diploma. Many homeschools base their requirements on their local public school system’s classes. A good way to start is to determine their “track” and then plan which subjects you will have each year with your student accordingly. Hope this helps you get started! Let me know how else I can help -Merit

  • Michele Nealey Post author


    Thank you so much for your site. It is very informative. I have had to pull my daughter out of Pender Early College 9th grade because she has a Pulmonary Embolism and navigating how to Homeschool has been so confusing. I have not found many free resources to help with homeschooling. Do I have to pay for everything to be sure my daughter gets her credits for College. I know due to the Common Core she has to take a EOC test. I think the CAT seems like a good choice from what I have read. But I’m still confused about earning college credits. I know it is based on hours, but is the only way to be sure they are on grade level is to purchase the supplies and is there a test to be sure they mastered the information learned for credits?

    Thank you for any help you can provide! I’m floundering here in Wilmington, NC Pender County!


    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      HI Michele – I am so sorry to hear that your daughter is dealing with this health issue! That is really tough for all of you. Homeschool testing is required annually, and is different than the EOG tests the kids take in public school. Check the testing information on the website if you have not already. Yes, homeschoolers have to provide their own curriculum. If you choose to have her take classes at a co-op, you pay for that too. If you unschool, or use a literature based/project based type of learning, you can homeschool very inexpensively. We also cut costs by purchasing used curricula and attending field trips with support groups to get group entrance fees 🙂 You can give your child a good education and spend whatever your budget allows. Homeschoolers earn only high school credits unless they are enrolled in an early college program. College credits would be determined by her college not by her homeschool. If you are not using an early college program, then you are probably going track her work based on Carnegie credits (120 to 180 hours of work) or use 1/2 credit for a semester and 1 credit for a year long “class” or amount or work. Her curriculum will probably include tests and quizes as well as writing assignments so that is one way you can “test” her knowledge of the materials (there are others). Homeschoolers take the PSAT, ACT & SAT or other college entrance exams required by whatever colleges they want to attend, so they have to meet the same criteria as private & public school students in order to gain acceptance to college if that is where they are headed. Hope this answered your question but if not, let me know what I missed and I will be glad to cover that too 🙂 Also check for a good homeschool support group in your area (there is a list here too) that is sooo vital!

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      Hi Alicia, did your granddaughter homeschool with her family? If so, they should create a transcript of the academic and extracurricular work she did during here high school years (ie. curriculum used, hours spent, projects, quizzes, tests, etc.) The diploma is just a document that states that she completed certain requirements determined by her parents (based on what standards they determined were important for their high schooler). So, although she will be asked for her diploma for certain things, the main thing she needs to have documented for her future welfare, is the high school level work she did. Does that make sense? If she “tested” by taking a GED exam, then you need to contact them about a certificate of completion or whatever they confer for that. If they have questions, I will be glad to help with that if they email me, or call – Merit

  • Kimberly Burgess Post author

    Exactly what and how many course credits does my daughter need to graduate. She is currently in 9th grade. Thanks

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      HI Kimberly – homeschoolers do not have a statutorily required amount of credits they have to give in order to graduate their students, however, you will want to decide how many courses in each subject your high schooler will need for whatever their future plans (community college, state college, trade school, GED, planning requirements & giving credits makes them and you accountable for their homeschool education, helps you know what resources you need & validates their homeschool high school education. You can use the NC public school guidelines that I posted in the High School Planning section on the website, or any other resources (check other websites like HSLDA, NCHE etc. for their recommendations) to plan your student’s high school experience. Here is a good place to start:

  • Pam Post author

    Hi. I know what credits are required, but how do you find a class that you know fulfills the requirement for that class? For example, my 9th grade son was enrolled in Scientific & Tech Visualization 1, an elective class. I’m trying to find an equivalent of that class online (there doesn’t seem to be that class offered for homeschoolers where we live in Asheville, NC. How do I make sure that an online class counts and for how many credits it counts for? Thanks.

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      Hi Pam, schools differ so much in the content of their classes that I am not surprised you didn’t find a perfect equivalent online class. Technically a credit hour is defined by the number of hours a student spends on the class and is awarded based on a full year class that takes 120-180 hours of a student’s time to complete (1 credit) or half of that for a one semester course. You can supplement an online class with other materials or lab time, projects or other coursework if you don’t think that the student is meeting those requirements. You could also award a partial credit for the class and simply have your student do another one to gain more credit. Let me know if this didn’t answer your question and I will be glad to clarify 🙂 Hope it helps get you on the right track at least!

  • kidsencouragement Post author

    Hi!! I have a son that is already working and homeschooling in the 9th grade. I started him off in Pre-Algebra be cause he was taking a fundamental math when I pulled him out of public school. Im assuming the Pre Algebra will not go towards his credits correct?

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      Hey there – you may be able to include it. If the Pre-Algebra course is similar to NC’s Math 1:, than in my opinion you include it – titled Math 1 on transcripts, just like the current NC high school public schoolers. ALSO, If your son is following an occupational course of study instead of college prep, he will only need 3 Math credits, so it may not matter if your current Math doesn’t fit closely with NC’s Math 1 requirements, he can follow a nice path of Pre-Algebra, to Al 1 & then do Geometry or Al2 or a good business math course. Ultimately, you decide what he needs and how you will award credits. As long as your program meets with the standards of whatever higher education he wants, he will be just fine! Hope this helps. Let me know if I should add and/or clarify anything.

  • Chris Mahn Post author

    Hello, is there a list of classes that NC requires for home schooled children to ‘graduate’ high school? I saw the list in the article, but that just tells me what students in NC public schools graduate with, not the actual requirement. I went to this page – – but there is no list of classes, just a bunch of links to things they might be asked or they should know. Which is completely different than saying, “Here are the minimum qualifications to graduate high school in NC.” Thanks much for any help.

    • Merit Kirkpatrick Post author

      Chris – the minimum required classes are determined by the administrator of each school individually, since homeschools in NC are classified under the law as though they are private schools. Most of us choose to use the guidelines given by the state public school scope and sequence because those requirements mesh with what students need in order to get into college. It is a good guideline to ensure that the courses and credits your student has are comparable to the students graduating from other schools. Of course we choose our own materials, as well as how many hours, what projects and reports the student is required to complete in order to obtain a credit hour in each subject. I hope that clarifies that for you. Let me know if you have other questions, I have graduated two students from our homeschool – Creative Learning Academy, and my youngest is class of 2017!

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      Chris – you as the administrator of your school ultimately choose what courses they have to complete in order to graduate from your homeschool. I personally chose to align my curriculum with the standards required by the public schools since my kids attend state colleges and they have specific things they want from graduates. To some extent you may tailor your home education program to fit with the requirements of any colleges that you know they want to attend (for example Science with labs, and or foreign language requirements) here is a great pdf for you to look at: – it informs you of the number of English, Math, Science & History credits, electives etc. that they need to have, however, you get to decide the order in which they take the classes. (American History, 9th grade, World History 10th etc. ) Let me know if that doesn’t answer your questions. I am developing a better high school section for this website currently.

  • beach224 Post author

    My daughter transferred to my homeschool half-way through junior year after being in a NC public school. She still needs one more English senior year to graduate high school and meet college admission standards. Can she dual enroll at a community college and take freshman English there to count for her 4th English for college admission?

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      Yes, but remember you are still responsible for keeping her grades and providing those grades on a transcript for her to continue her education. Other colleges will want that information once she has graduated. Let me know if you have questions about that – I am developing a section on transcripts and grading for this website.

    • Merit Kirkpatrick

      That would depend on the community college accepting her for that class, but yes it looks to me like that would work fine. You would still be responsible to add that class & credit to her homeschool transcript to show future colleges that she completed enough credits to graduate from your homeschool high school.

  • Lee Edwards Post author

    beore our divorce years ago my ex-wife and I had opened a home school for our four children. I haven’t spoken to them in years and wonder how I would know if my youngest daughter has graduated. Is there a way for me to find out?

    • Merit Kirkpatrick Post author

      I am sorry for your situation, Lee. If the school is registered as a homeschool in NC, it would be listed as a matter of public record until the last student graduates, at which time, the school would be closed. So just go the the Division of Non-public education website and look up the homeschool by county. Hope this information helps and hope that you are able to reconcile with your children, Lee – blessings, Merit