What You Need to Know About Homeschool Graduation Requirements

What if I mess up homeschooling high school and my child doesn't have everything he needs to graduate on his transcript? I had this question myself, and I hear it now from homeschool moms all. the. time. But the good news is that this concern over homeschool graduation requirements, while very common, is also easily dispelled!

Do you know your child's homeschool graduation requirements? The author tells you what you NEED to know -- and you may be suprised by what she says!

That's my job today — to give you everything you need to know about homeschool graduation requirements, so you can be well-informed and feel confident as you are homeschooling high school. I consider the encouragement of moms who are homeschooling teens as one of my big missions in life, because I believe EVERY mom can provide the high school education her teen needs!

So let's get right to it, because you're going to be amazed how easy this is. Here goes; are you ready?

Suspenseful distraction right here to just say that all of this information — AND MUCH MORE — can be found in my book about homeschooling high school. It's called CURE THE FEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING HIGH SCHOOL: A Step-by-Step Handbook for Research & Planning (so you can be sure you're not missing anything!) — and if you find the information you're about to read helpful, then this book is for you! It takes you from square one of doing the research to find out what you NEED to do all the way through making a complete coursework plan for your child. With EIGHT pretty printables to make it all more fun! Check it out here: Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School.

Here's what you need to know about homeschool graduation requirements (drum roll, please):

(pause for dramatic effect)

(deep breath…. Aaaaaaaaannnnnnddddd….)


Wait, what? you say. Repeat that, please? you ask.

Happy to oblige: Most states do not have ANY graduation requirements for homeschool students.

But why do I see graduation requirements listed on my state's education website? you demand.

Be aware that while all states do have PUBLIC SCHOOL graduation requirements, those DO NOT apply to homeschoolers.  You do NOT have to fulfill them.

Only a handful of states have HOMESCHOOL graduation requirements. If your state homeschool law does not specifically say a child must complete x, y, & z to graduate, then your state probably doesn't have any!!

My information comes from a very scientific source (cough cough). You see, we took a poll in the FB group. :-) (Seriously, though, it is your responsibility to research your own state — but our results will give you an idea of where you might stand.) In that very informal poll, the only states reported to have homeschool graduation requirements are PA and NY.  In CA, LA, and TN, it depends which path you take (and if you live in those states you probably know your options). In the VAST MAJORITY of states (although some were not accounted for), there were NO graduation requirements for homeschooled students. Nope. Zilch. Noodle!

Guess what?  That means that for most of you out there, you can determine your own graduation requirements. YOU can decide how many credits of math, or how many of English, or history, or whether a foreign language is necessary, or if PE is something you want to mess with (I didn't, lol).

I recommend coming up with a general idea of what you would like your graduates to have accomplished when you do your initial curriculum planning process that takes place before ninth grade. That way you can come up with a four-year plan to aim for. I talk a little more about determining your homeschool graduation requirements and a four-year plan in my post called How to Create A High School Homeschool Curriculum Plan in Four Simple Steps.

Related: How to Plan a Homeschool Graduation Ceremony — step by step

But won't my kid have a better chance to get into college if we follow the public school requirements? you ask. This is a common misconception, but it is absolutely not true. Colleges know that public school requirements vary widely from state to state — so they can't base their admissions policies on them, since they draw students from many states. They don't have time to compare your homeschool transcript to the laws of the state you live in; that's WAY too much work for them!

In fact, colleges have their own admissions requirements, and those are what you want to be concerned about.  The best thing to do is research a few colleges and find out what they expect their applicants to have accomplished — I discuss how to do this in How to KNOW What Your Teen NEEDS to Get Into College.  You'll find that college admissions requirements are usually much less demanding than public school graduation requirements, which should give you a sense of relief and of freedom.

[birdsend form=8954]

Yet in some respects, it may seem intimidating to think about determining your own homeschool graduation requirements. But it is actually a wonderful thing. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  1. You can individualize the requirements to each child.  You don't have to have the same set of requirements for all of your children. One might be required to do more math (maybe they are planning a technical major in college), or you might allow another to replace literature with philosophy, if that is their bent. Or you might have a special needs child, whose requirements need to be more closely tailored to their strengths or weaknesses.
  2. You can adapt your requirements to your family homeschool philosophy. If you are unschoolers, you might eschew the entire grading system and find a different way to assign credits. Or even “conventional” homeschoolers may prefer an emphasis on literature/living books or practical experience or whole language learning or scientific experimentation or whatever else.
  3. You can outright MODIFY your graduation requirements as your circumstances or needs change. What you determine before your child enters high school may not reflect their needs by the time they hit junior year (or whenever). My one child hated math but loved languages. So somewhere in the middle of her high school years, we let go of a math credit and added more language credits to her “requirements.” There are also life circumstances that get in the way — maybe finances or a death in the family mean you have to scale way back on what you thought you would require.  It's all THOROUGHLY OK.

The key to remember is that since YOU decide all this, your child is not “missing something.” No high school education is going to cover all the wisdom and knowledge of man, lol. What you deem important for your child to know is what your requirements will be. Let the rest go!!

The moral of this story is this: be very familiar with your state's homeschool laws. One of the best places to find out what they are is HSLDA.org. Or do an internet search for “Missouri homeschool law” (for example). (Although some bonus info is that I homeschool in MO, so I can tell you without a doubt that there are NO graduation requirements for homeschoolers in our lovely state!!) :-)  Most states have homeschool organizations that can explain the law to you if you are unsure.

Moral #2: Do NOT let the fear-mongers make you feel like you have to jump through a lot of hoops or your kid won't succeed or get into college.  Those are most often public school representatives, have you noticed that?  Like the math teacher down the street, or the mom of your kid's childhood friend. It's usually people who have NO CLUE about homeschooling, but they think they have the right to voice their opinion, regardless. Gotta love 'em — but don't believe 'em.

Moral #3: Don't accept information (from any source other than your state's homeschool law) that tells you that you MUST have this, that, and the other thing in your child's course of study or on their transcript or even as their extra-curricular activities. You don't HAVE to have anything beyond what the homeschool law spells out. It really gets me riled when I see that misinformation disseminated around Pinterest and other social media. I very strenuously avoid the words “you must” or “your child must” in my posts for that very reason! (And if you see me using them that way, please call me on it!)

Sometimes well-meaning homeschoolers are just uninformed about the truth. Well, that doesn't need to be you any more. Fly, be free!! Bask in your right to determine your own homeschool graduation requirements for your children (if you live in one of the MANY states that allows you to do so)! And come back here to Annie & Everything for more great high school homeschool information! :-)

It's Not That Hard to Homeschool

50 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Homeschool Graduation Requirements”

  1. This is an awesome article…. I am in California and I file an affidavit and am considered a private school under the law. I just read this: ** Instruction must be offered “in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools.” The materials and methods you use to teach these areas are up to you. You are not required to teach every subject as long as it is offered and available to the student** That last sentence caught my attention. They list all the core plus things like health, drivers ed, P.E., foreign language. But it says you are not required to teach all just that it’s offered.

    My oldest started taking Cleps at the end of 11th grade. She has been doing a combo of Clep, community college and online to get a degree. We did not do SAT or ACT tests because of this route.

    Child number two is a senior this year. Will probably go a route similar to child one. But she struggles academically. I think we can only pull off finishing Alg 1 and 2 for math. We had to go back and do a semester of basic math last year. This year we also will do Dave Ramseys personal finance. So, I am wondering if I can count basic math and personal finance as one year and Alg 1 and 2 getting in three years of math. Sounds like I can do what I want? Lol

    She is a musician and will have accomplished four years of piano. Self taught guitar. Huge accomplishments in this area and I’ve been stressing over the math.

    1. Yes, Jeri, it does sound like you can do what you want. Did you try Geometry? That is probably a little easier than Algebra 2… it is sad how we get so stressed about what we are “supposed” to do that we often forget that there are other equally valuable things already going on. Maybe she won’t even need to take college courses, if she can find a different way to further her instruction in music! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

      1. Piggybacking on this, do you think we could skip Algebra 2 altogether and focus on Business Math, which is what my 11th grade son is actually interested in studying? There is algebra in the text, but I’m concerned about using it since it doesn’t not specifically cover all of Algebra 2. We could focus on Accounting his senior year….

        1. While your homeschool law may not specify what to take, colleges might. Many of them expect 3 years of high school math, which would include Algebra 2. So I would hesitate to advise that you can skip it altogether; it depends on what your son’s long range goals are. If he wants to go to college, then check college requirements to see what those are. Here’s an article about that: How to Know What Your Teen Needs to Get Into College. He can always take Business Math as an additional elective, too. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Hope this helps!

          1. I appreciate your take on this, but I feel like I need to just shed light on the reality of college. If your child wants to attend college it is important that you prepare them well so they can handle the skills that are needed, such as study skills, test-taking, writing papers, etc. Although, I do believe a lot of the college requirements are ridiculous it is, what it is, if your student wants a college degree. The last thing I want to do is to have my child ask me later why I did not prepare them well to handle college. You can’t learn MLA or APA from unschooling. There is much more I can say on this subject but I will leave at that.

          2. Hi Anna, I’ve had four kids go to college, and of course it’s important to prepare them well for that. This article is about graduation requirements, not about all the details of what you will choose for them to learn or even how you decide they will learn. I believe there are a lot of different ways to effectively homeschool high school, and I would hate for anyone to feel intimidated by your comment. The point of the article is that each parent can decide what they think it is important for their teen to learn because graduation requirements are usually not specific. I think we can rely on parents to be responsible enough to know that preparing their teen for college is an important part of figuring out their own graduation requirements. My own take on what is needed to prepare kids for college, based on my experience with my own kids, can be found here: College Preparation for the Homeschooled Teen: How to be Sure You’re Doing Enough.

      2. Anne, thank you so much for this! My daughter is college bound, yet struggles so much with Algebra( we are on the 4th try here) it seems to me that every college requires the math. Where do we go from here? ( she is in tears with algebra)

        1. Yes, I think pretty much every college (except community college) does require math credits that are high school level. Algebra 1 is the first high school level course, and kids usually go on to do Geometry and Algebra 2.

          Sounds to me like she’s gotten herself in a rut. I would suggest trying one more resource just to get through this particular course with no more frustration, then moving on to a regular Geometry curriculum, perhaps a live class like Mr. D. so she can ask questions.
          (Here is my referral link for Mr. D; click through this link to go to his website, then later if you decide to do his course, I’ll get commission, which not gonna lie is always appreciated: http://mrdmath.edu20.org/visitor_class_catalog?affiliate=5213157.)

          There are plenty of other Geometry courses out there — Math U See would be another one to recommend, because it is generally easier than most others — but I think in her case the live class would be super helpful, so she knows there is someone to ask questions right then, and also Mr. D has live help sessions throughout the week as well, so if she gets stuck on homework she can tune in and get help. Mr. D. has several instructors; my daughter had both Mr. H and Mr. D (two different courses) and both were great. I wrote a review of Mr. D here: https://www.notthathardtohomeschool.com/homeschool-high-school-math-online/.

          But to finish out Algebra, I would recommend Learn Math Fast for your situation. I just wrote a review about it, and I think it will give your daughter much more confidence going forward than any other curriculum can. And it won’t take very long (she’s already spent enough time on Algebra!). Also I have an exclusive discount code; use ANNIE to get 10% off.

          When you read my review and look on their website, you’ll see that Learn Math Fast is different and much easier to understand than pretty much anything else out there. My daughter really loved it. There is also a placement test; I would recommend that for your daughter, so that you can find out exactly where she needs to start so she has all the info she needs to succeed going forward. Here is my review: https://www.notthathardtohomeschool.com/learn-math-fast-review/.

          I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any follow-up questions. You can get over this hump; I have confidence in both of you!

        2. I know your concern about your daughter is few years old. I have dyscalculia. So when I graduated from high school. In 1991 I was in math classes for learning disabled students. So never took Algebra. But I did take classes at community college. In Elementary Education. She can still go to college if she wants too. I just want to give her hug.

    2. Yep, it sounds like you can. I wouldn’t stress over the math. Basic math in high school is considered Consumer Math and can include Financial Literacy, but depending on rigor / time cam be a separate course.

  2. My family just moved from Kentucky to Missouri. While I do realize that Missouri is a great state to homeschool, the differences of requirements from each state is different. I am so concerned that I am going to mess his high school transcript up, which will make it very difficult for him to get into college.

    From what I gathered from this information you posted, Missouri doesn’t have any specific course requirements to graduate. Thus, what is listed on the public school site stating 1 full year of physical education, fine arts, and practical arts are not necessary for my senior to graduate?

    We came from Kentucky and had his whole high school year planned out. Under the Kentucky’s state requirement to graduate, we only needed 1/2 of each of the previous three. Now, his whole senior year is messed up if we have to add 1 1/2 more credits in these fields.

    We both feel overwhelmed. The move in itself is very tough, but trying to get through his senior year without adding chaos would be great. As long as we have 24 credits in solid courses, we will be fine?

    Thanks for any words of wisdom you can give?

    1. You don’t even have to have a specified number of credits. And definitely pay NO attention to the MO public school listing. Whatever you say is enough — IS ENOUGH. It’s a wonderful freedom! :-)

  3. I really had no idea! I planned to research our state’s requirements this summer before my oldest started high school next year. Pinned.

  4. I’m wanting to graduate my daughter on her birthday. She’s completed all that I feel is necessary. I can’t find the answer any where online or in the Texas homeschool law website, if I’m required to homeschool all the way through to may, when other schools are done for the year. And I don’t see anything about the number of days required to home school each yr. Do high schoolers have to have 4 yrs of high school?
    She’s a senior. Can I graduate her early?
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Sheila, my experience is that many states do specify a minimum number of either days or hours of instruction per year. So I would definitely double-check that. As far as whether they NEED to go for four years, no, that is often up to you. If your state does not specify any homeschool graduation requirements, then you can choose when that happens. But I would recommend you maybe reach out to someone who knows your state law better than I before you make that determination. Another idea is to ask the question in my Facebook group: It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School. Tell them you are in TX — you’ll get a lot of great answers! :-)

  5. My wife and I decided to pull our 11th grade daughter out of public school half way thru school year (we live in Missouri). We are going to homeschool her the rest of the way. We are struggling with finding out what is really necessary for her to complete 12th grade. I know the State of Missouri Requires 24.5 credit hours to graduate in public school but its seems many people conflate that with state law?? As of right now my daughter wants to do beauty school next. I called the beauty school admissions office and they said she just needs to have a notarized transcript showing she completed 12th grade. Does that sound right? How do we go about creating a transcript that someone will notarize? Appreciate any advise you can offer

    1. Hi Brett, I live in Missouri, too, so this is an easy question for me! You absolutely do NOT need to follow the state public school requirements. However many credits YOU want her to have is how many she can graduate with. I personally have never gotten our transcripts notarized, but since that is a simple process, I would go ahead and do it for the beauty school. (Someone at your bank might be able to do it for you for free.) Making a transcript is not difficult — it is just a listing of courses that she has taken and the grades she got for each one. You can ask the high school to give you one for her coursework this far, but it does not need to be official — it would be just for you to copy the info from that to the one that you make for her. Since she will be graduating from YOUR homeschool, YOU give the final transcript. I have a post about how to make transcripts here: https://www.notthathardtohomeschool.com/homeschool-high-school-transcript/. Hope this helps! :-)

  6. This mamma is not as stressed right now. Wonderful article. Even though we homeschool in Pa. (one of the states that does have requirements for graduation)

    thank you for this.

    1. Both my husband and I grew up in PA, but we’ve often said we’ll never move back just because of the homeschool laws. My hat is off to you for sticking it out there! I’m glad you feel better! :-)

  7. You home school teens in MO? I’m struggling to find other preteen boys that are home schooled. I’m in the Northland of KC.

  8. Home school in Indiana do this state have graduation. Please inform me of any school that doesn’t have graduation isn’t that a requirement

    1. Hi Erma, I don’t know if your state has graduation requirements or not. We’re not talking about whether or not they have graduation itself, but whether they require certain courses to be taken in order for your child to be eligible to graduate. You’d have to research your state’s homeschool law to know for sure.

  9. Hello. This article is such a relief to me. My oldest is at sophomore age and we are homeschooling in Missouri and I was stressing about that after someone had me worried about it. My one question I have is, do the homeschoolers get a actual diploma from the state? I had this information years ago when she was 7 and I didn’t need to stress about it…thanks

  10. I have a question, LOL. I don’t know if you have an answer for me but I’ll try. My son has graduated home school and would like to go into the military. We are in Colorado. Do you have any idea what we need to make that happen for him?

  11. gabrielle barnett

    i am from texas and this is completely different but my question to you is do you by any chance know how many credits i am supposed to have while enrolled in a public school online

  12. Hi Ann-

    I just discovered you when I was frantically trying to figure out how to create a transcript for my daughter. I wish I would have discovered you years ago, but better late than never. Thanks for all your help. This is a great article. I certainly feel better about how to continue to homeschool my son who is high school aged.

  13. “No high school education is going to cover all the wisdom and knowledge of man, lol. What you deem important for your child to know is what your requirements will be. Let the rest go!!”

    I just wanted to tell you that the reminder in these two sentences was so needed today. I’m entering my 7th year of homeschooling and have been stressing-out this week/month trying to choose curricula for my kids, especially my 11th grader. Since I started homeschooling I have realized that there are many ways to be an educated person and there is no one-size-fits-all approach (despite what the government seems to think). In the stress of the moment I can lose sight of that. Thanks for the reminder.

    Also, just throwing this out there in case it helps anyone that I am homeschooling in Michigan. Here the law only requires that the homeschool provide “an organized educational program in the subject area of reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing and English grammar.” They specifically state that “…homeschools can set their own graduation criteria and are not required to have met the requirements of the MMC [Michigan Merit Curriculum -that’s the public school graduation requirements and totals 18 credits]. However the requirement for one semester credit in Civics/Government does apply to all public and non-public and homeschools in Michigan.” So, the only high school graduation requirement is a semester of Civics! I am supremely grateful to those who came before me in this state and achieved this freedom in a very hard-fought battle.

  14. Hi Ann,

    I found this article so helpful! I have a 15 year old who is so ready to graduate, but is there like an age requirement to graduate? or can I just give him his diploma and he can go to college? (I know there’s more to it than that, but you get it) Thanks!

  15. My son had no interest in college while we were home schooling. He met the NY state requirements for graduation from high school. Now he is wanting to go to ba nice college near where we live in Indiana but didn’t have enough math or science, plus he did not take SAT ACT tests. What can be done? He is now 22.

    1. Hi Stephanie, My suggestion would be to have him get those required courses at your local community college. He can maybe do it in one semester, and then he can try applying again to the desired college. He doesn’t need an ACT or SAT to get into community college, and once he has some college credits under his belt, I don’t think he’ll need those test scores to apply to the one he really wants to go to. Although, my understanding is that you can take the tests at any age… but I don’t think he’d want to attempt it if he’s not had any math for several years. I would suggest calling the desired college and asking them if they absolutely must have a test score or if transferring in from the community college is sufficient. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this helps! HUGS!

  16. I was homeschooled back in the mid 80s when my mother pulled me from school, I had learning disability and especially in math. However it wasn’t recognized back then and I was considered a dropout. I’ve have tried the GED three times and each time I couldn’t pass the math. What can I do for a diploma? I can’t even go to real estate school in my state without one nor enroll in college. I’ve already completed high school from home and all my life experience over theirs and all those years ago and any advice would be helpful. I’m 50 and getting discouraged.

    1. I also was homeschool in the 80s and now homeschool my own. I would look at my GED and get an idea of what type of math training you need to pass. Then order high school math curriculum online. Do the work books and get a tutor if needed.

    2. Kate, This comment was three years ago. By you I graduated from public high school in 1991. In Illinois then I was only required to take math classes for learning disabled students I don’t know what state you live in. But it may be worth checking into. Your GED program offer alternatives to the Math test. So you can get your GED. It is hard for students who have learning disabilities. To get the help we need.

  17. Lorraine Vitale

    I am a totally stressed out mom of a male senior during the pandemic in Florida. He has been an exceptional student up to these past 2 years. He excels at public speaking and history. But Math is a killer.. He is “Tom Sawyer” whenever work is required. I am at the end of my rope. We have been in Algebra for 3 years.. It is not that he does not understand the concepts he just refuses to do it. I want him to graduate at the FPEA graduation but I am sick that he has not met the 3 years of math public school requires. But from what I have read above , I have the liberty to graduate him. He has all the other requirements except foreign language completed and oodles of credits for electives. Please assure me all will be well

    1. Ack, Lorraine, I am so sorry I didn’t see this earlier! Did you graduate him? Because as long as you met FL state homeschool law requirements, then you could, regardless of what FPEA’s requirements are. You don’t need ot meet public school requirements (unless that is what FL law tells you to do). Sounds to me like he just needs to graduate and start working, ya know?

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this. After much stress with my high school junior, I checked and our state does not have requirements. That decreases our stress level immensely.

  19. In Michigan, there are 2 routes to homeschool. If you homeschool under the homeschooling portion of the law, it simply states that you have to teach reading/language arts, writing, math, science, history/social studies, and government (10th-12th only) each year. What you cover is entirely up to the parent. So if it takes 2 years to get through Algebra, so be it. It can be listed as Algebra 1/2 and Algebra 1.
    If a parent chooses to homeschool under the private school portion of the law, then they are expected to have similar offerings as the public schools.
    Once I read this in our law last year, it relieved a lot of angst. Thank you for this article that confirms what I read. It really is liberating!

  20. Hello from Texas,
    My daughter is going into 11th grade…we’ve done Abeka accredited since 6th grade…its soooo much work…I hate to stop right at the end of Highschool but it’s overwhelming…the amount of time and work this school demands (accredited)
    By my husband’s wishes…
    She is a very smart girl…has already done algebra 1 and 2
    Then almost done with geometry…
    I’m nervous to mess her transcript up…but also so tired of the extreme long homeschooling days…if she wanted a job she would never get school done…idk what to do…I’m going to see what our close community college needs her to have…

    1. i can totally empathize with these concerns and am clarifying what accredited really means, and why. i’m replying to an old post, but curious how this ended up for you all. you sound like an amazing, loving, dedicated HS mom.

  21. as new parents HS our rising 10th grader and now terrified we will railroad her entire career/life, I’m truly grateful for you taking time to create this summary and the endless tunnel of links and resources.

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