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What You Need to Know About Homeschool Graduation Requirements

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!

What if I mess up homeschooling high school and my child doesn’t have everything he needs to graduate? 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.

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.

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! 🙂

About the author

Ann Karako

Ann has been homeschooling for 20+ years and has graduated four children (one more to go). She believes that EVERY mom can CONFIDENTLY, COMPETENTLY -- and even CONTENTEDLY -- provide the COMPLETE high school education that her teen needs. Ann's website, AnnieandEverything.com, offers information, resources, and virtual hugs to help homeschool moms do just that. 

Ann has written Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: A Step-by-Step Manual for Research & Planning and Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School: Practical Principles for a Firm Foundation. She also founded the popular Facebook group called It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School, which now has over 27K members; and recently she started the It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School Podcast.

She and her family, including two dogs and three cats, live in rural Missouri.


  • 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! 🙂

      • 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….

        • 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!

  • 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: https://www.annieandeverything.com/homeschool-high-school-transcript/. 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

    • 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.

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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.

  • “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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

    • 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?

  • 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.

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Hi! I’m glad you’re here!

I’m Ann (aka Annie), a veteran homeschool mom of five. I believe YOU can do this homeschool high school thing!
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