What’s typical for number of classes per year in HS?

Curious in terms of rigor. It seems so varied even when comparing the local public HS to the IB or other magnet curriculum - even beyond AP classes. Public school requirements for graduation around here is 21 credits over 4 years; requirements to graduate from IB or magnet are very structured and amount to 8 credits per year plus PE which has to be taken over summer because it doesn’t fit in schedule. Other than health (half credit) and fine arts (2 credits), everything else is largely AP or honors. It’s a lot. Do other schools have closer to 21 credit requirement or the IB/magnet courseload requirement?

I think my kids’ public school was similar to what you’ve mentioned. However, my kids, who were on the highest rigor track, usually took 8 classes (English, Math, History, Foreign Language, Science, audition band, health/gym, plus another 5 day a week elective or regular band). They didn’t take a lunch period or a study hall - if a teacher allowed it, they would grab lunch before class and eat it during class. They virtually always took honors or AP, which was almost always available. There were also kids (not special ed) who took as little as 5 classes, a lunch, and a study hall or two, no honors, no APs. And everything in between. There were kids who would take a class during the summer to open up their schedule a bit more, but it was definitely possible to take the highest rigor available without doing that. I’ve never heard of a program where the kids had to take more classes than one could possibly fit into 4 years of high school!

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Our highly rated public school does 7 classes a year plus gym or a health education equivalent service class. There are no classes during lunch or 0 period. Everyone takes gym or health during the school day. Many kids take study hall each year and band/orchestra is an academic class no matter how often you take it.

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It varies so much. That’s why colleges assess students within the context of what is offered at their schools.

My D’s school had 7 classes/semester. The 8th period was lunch. Most classes were a year long but some electives for juniors and seniors were 1 semester.


Our high school has seven classes per day. No such thing as zero period, and everyone automatically gets lunch. Anything more than seven is not possible. Most kids at the top of the class fill up all seven periods, but it’s common for other kids to take a study period. One semester of gym is required of everyone each year - no getting out of it by taking something over the summer or being on a varsity team. Everyone must take gym. There are a few other random requirements: one semester each of health, computers (mostly how to use Microsoft office), and economics. Other than that most courses are for the full year. Some exceptions are art classes, cooking, and English and social studies electives for upper classmen.

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Thanks. Crazy how different it is everywhere. My friend told me of a kid in our neighborhood essentially going to high school “part time” this year - that’s what made me think of it. I had never heard of option to take study period etc. I actually think it would be wonderful if all HS kids got that schedule along with option for rigorous clssses.

The summer gym requirement is only required by the magnet and IB programs. It’s run by county school system and taught by school system teacher so it’s the same PE but taken over the summer. 4 days a week/6 weeks for 4 hours a day in person. Counts as half credit so have to do that twice. Two years in a row, it’s made it almost impossible to schedule vacation between one kid’s band and the other kid’s golf schedule.
Edit; it’s actually not required to complete over summer but most magnet kids do it over summer to make space for semester electives and because they want to take gym together with other magnet kids. Peer pressure

I forgot about band. Band and chorus are also offered all 4 years. Thank goodness

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The school I work at does block scheduling with 4 classes in the fall and 4 in the spring semester. A few classes are year long with labs (AP Bio and AP Chem). This schedule works well with Dual Credit opportunities with our local colleges. 24 credits in certain buckets are required by the state. Most have 32 or more by the time they graduate.

There are kids who take PE/Health in the summer, but it is virtual and no where near what you are describing.

We do have seniors who choose to take early outs or late ins when taking one less class, but most are not shooting for T100 colleges. They may already have the equivalent of an associates in credits and will transfer to a 4 year college after taking a few more prerequisites locally.

8 classes since if you played a sport you could drop gym and take another academic class. 28 credits while the other schools had 24. All honors and AP school.

8 class periods but one is always lunch, and 7 core academic classes are not allowed. Top 1/4-1/3rd take 6 academic courses with max honors/AP (ie second science or math or language or the like) , and almost everyone takes a study hall as the 7th if they do that plan, unless they are a super academic kid who is also in a year-round fine arts class like band. Least-rigorous path would be 5 classes per year with 2 study halls.

My high school (public, California) has 7 periods (0-6). Lunch is not a period, just 35 minutes between 4th and 5th. Most students take 6 classes per year but I take 7 with the optional 0 period. Standard college prep schedule would be English, History/Social Science, Math, Science, Foreign Language, PE (only 2 yrs required) or Visual/Performing Arts. Full range of honors and AP classes available and can take class at the local CC as well.

Adding high school graduation requirements.
40 credits - 4 yrs English
30 credits - 3 yrs math (1 year of algebra)
20 credits - 2 yrs science (1 life/1 physical)
30 credits - 3 yrs social science (world history, US history, government)
20 credits - 2 yrs PE
10 credits - 1 yr art/foreign language/career tech
5 credits - 1 semester health
65 credits electives
220 total credits

Our school district’s minimum requirement for graduation is 24.

The school day has 8 periods plus lunch. The students who want a rigorous schedule interleave the required gym class (usually 5 days/wk for a semester) with a lab science (1 period plus 2 days per week of an adjacent period for lab), taking gym 2d/wk one semester and 3d/wk the other, to earn 7.9 per year.

Many students earn 6.5-7.4 credits, and I’m sure some earn fewer.

I think my older daughter graduated with 31.6 - 7.4 one year and 8.4 when she took the required Health class online over the summer.

My younger daughter just graduated with 33.6.

Wow reading this thread is very interesting to me. So much variation in high schools – and so many opportunities to excel at some of them!

For reference, my school district (pretty average) offers students a 6-course schedule. They must take 24 credits to graduate, meaning most kids take 6 classes per year, unless they are in a dual enrollment program.

Mine did 8 classes, a combination of AP and dual credit. Some of her peers got release periods senior year though. I suggested one release period and by February she was wishing she had done a release period. Her classes started at 8:30 and ended at 4:00 with a 45 min lunch. She had also done 2 electives one summer. 22 credits are required for a basic graduation diploma, 26 to graduate with an endorsement. She graduated with 34 credits. She graduated with three endorsements (STEM, Arts & Humanities, and Multidisciplinary).

For Virginia the standard diploma is now 22 credits, 26 credits for advanced. I think it was one less when my kids went through. Older S had his format changed every year in HS. He started with a 7 class period day and later switched to some form of block scheduling with 8 classes per year. I don’t count lunch or study hall. With the online AP classes, kids could take extra, so younger S had 9 classes his last 2 years. Some kids would take the personal finance class online over the summer to fit in more classes, but mine didn’t.

WA requires 24 credits for HS graduation. Different districts offer different approaches to it – my district sticks with 4 quarters, most classes taken year-round, 6 periods per day (and the 4th period is frickin’ weird, since it pairs up with lunch, and either you have early lunch/late class, or late lunch/early class, or due to COVID, 1/2 class, lunch, 1/2 class…)

Unfortunately, if a kid fails any class they’re taking, they need to do summer school to make it up (and it usually costs something, although they try to make it as close to free as possible particularly for free lunch kids), since 6 credits/yr * 4 yrs = 24 credits (minimum to graduate). There’s no built-in space to retake something anymore.

This varies so much from state to state and private vs. public. D20’s public school in NC had block scheduling (4 classes/day/semester); lunch was not a period. Juniors and seniors could take half days and leave at lunch or come in at lunch. This is because many students work part time jobs, work on family farms, or do internships. If you’re enrolled in DE junior and senior years, you only need to be on campus for one class/day. Students need 22 credits to graduate; DD graduated with 37.