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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? This question, in different forms, comes up often in my FB group, It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School. 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! 🙂

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 ebook about homeschooling high school. It’s called CURE THE FEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING HIGH SCHOOL: How to 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 The Easy 2nd Step for High School Curriculum Planning.

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.

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 The Easy FIRST Step for High School Curriculum Planning.  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.

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 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! 🙂

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  • 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.

    • 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! 🙂

  • 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?

    • 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! 🙂

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

  • 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.

    • 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! 🙂

  • 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

    • 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: Hope this helps! 🙂

  • 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.

    • 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! 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

Hi! I’m glad you’re here!

I’m Ann (aka Annie), a veteran homeschool mom of five who HATES complicated!
more about me >>

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