Proud SDUSD graduate. High School Graduation Requirements


All students in grades 9-12 must attend eight semesters for six periods daily.

If it is in best interest of a student, an alternative plan may be created, with an accelerated program or shortened-day schedule. This is created involving the student's counselor and requires approval from the school principal, as well as the parent/guardian.

Grade-Point Average (GPA)

Students must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 or higher in scholarship, computed on the basis of A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0. The GPA for graduation is computed from courses completed in grades 9-12. Students should consult their school counselors about the effects of repeating courses on computing GPAs.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses, certain International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, and designated honors courses earn credit on a weighted or five-point scale: A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 1, F = 0. Students must take and pass the corresponding College Board AP or IB exam in order to receive weighted credit. Information on weighted courses is available in the Course of Study and at school sites. The state has available funds to help eligible students with the cost of taking AP exams. Please contact your child’s school for details. Students must also maintain a 2.0 GPA on the four-point scale, in both scholarship and citizenship, in order to participate in extra-curricular activities, including interscholastic athletics.


Students must maintain a record of responsible citizenship. To participate in graduation ceremonies, students must meet a minimum standard of a 2.0 average in citizenship grades during the senior year. The citizenship GPA is computed on a scale of E (excellent) = 4, G (good) = 3, S (satisfactory) = 2, N (needs improvement) = 1, U (unsatisfactory) = 0.

Seniors with zero tolerance violations or a five-day suspension will not be allowed to participate in graduation exercises and other senior activities. A senior with a citizenship GPA below 2.0 or a suspension of fewer than five days must appeal to the school site appeal board to determine his or her level of participation in senior activities.


Students must complete 44 semester credits, as specified below. Students are expected to meet the California State Standards in English, mathematics, science, history/social science, fine and practical arts, and physical education.

  • English Language Arts: Eight semester credits required: two credits in grade 9; two credits in grade 10; and four credits in grades 11 and 12, including one credit in a course that emphasizes American literature and three credits from a prescribed list of English courses. English credit is not granted for theatre, public speaking or journalism courses. Theatre earns visual and performing arts credit, public speaking earns elective credit and journalism earns practical arts credit. English as a Second Language (ESL) courses may be used to fulfill the eight-credit English requirement.

  • Mathematics: Six semester credits required: two credits in an algebra course; two credits in a geometry course; and two credits in a third year of mathematics as specified in the Course of Study.

  • Physical Education: Four semester credits required. Students must be enrolled in a physical education course in grade 9 and must earn four credits in grades 9–12.

  • Science: Six semester credits (three years) are required: one year of life science (biology or other University of California [UC]-approved laboratory science course in the ‘d’ subject area); one year of physical science (physics, chemistry, or other UC-approved laboratory science course in the ‘d’ subject area); and one additional year of UC-approved science coursework in the ‘d’ (laboratory science) or ‘g’ (elective) subject areas.

  • History/Social Studies: Six semester credits required: two credits in world history and geography in grades 9 or 10; two credits in U.S. history and geography or an advanced alternative in grade 11; one credit in government and one credit in economics, or two credits in an advanced alternative as specified in the Course of Study in grade 12.

  • World Languages and Visual, Performing and Practical Arts: Three semester credits required. There are two ways to satisfy this requirement:

    • Option A: two semesters of a foreign language (a one-year course) and one semester of visual, performing, or practical arts.

    • Option B: two semesters of visual and/or performing arts and one semester of practical arts. Visual and performing arts include courses in art, music and theatre. Practical arts courses include business education, consumer and family studies, industrial education, vocational and occupational programs, journalism and yearbook.

Additional Credits

Additional credits needed to reach a total of 44 may be earned by completing additional courses in the above areas and/or elective courses. Courses using languages other than English as the medium of instruction for students not fluent in English may be substituted to fulfill specific subject-area requirements.

Computer Literacy Students must demonstrate proficiency in one of two ways:

  1. Completion of a computer education course or completion of an approved course that incorporates computer education and computer applications or;

  2. A test may be used for grades 9–12 when a course is not accessible or possible.

Senior Exhibition

Students must present a senior exhibition in order to receive a high school diploma. Information about exhibitions is available from individual schools.

California High School Exit Examination

All students in the State of California must pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) to receive a diploma. The two-part examination is based on the California State Content Standards for English language arts and mathematics. All students are required to take the exam in the spring of grade 10. Students who do not pass either or both parts in grade 10 will continue to retake those parts in grades 11 and 12 until they are successful.

Diplomas, Certificates, and Letters of Recognition

The district issues diplomas, certificates and letters of recognition based on the following criteria: s

  • Diploma: Awarded to students who complete the district course of study outlined in the preceding section with at least a 2.0 grade point average, present a senior exhibition and pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE).

  • Diploma with Academic Distinction: Awarded to students who complete all general requirements for a diploma with a weighted GPA of 3.5 or higher in grades 10, 11, and the first semester of grade 12 or to students who in grades 10 through 12 complete 14 semester credits in designated, academically rigorous coursework specified in Administrative Procedure 4772.

  • Certificate of Course Completion: Awarded to students who complete the course of study but do not meet the minimum 2.0 GPA requirement and/or do not pass the CAHSEE. Students receiving Certificates of Course Completion are not eligible to participate in commencement exercises.

  • Letter of Recognition: Awarded to special education students who do not meet all requirements for graduation but who have completed all goals and objectives of their Individualized Education Programs. See Administrative Procedure 4770. Students receiving Letters of Recognition are eligible to participate in commencement exercises.


Based on the last grade report prior to June, each school will designate the student with the highest cumulative weighted grade point average (WGPA)—calculated from courses taken in grades 10 through 12 and rounded to the nearest hundredth—as the valedictorian and the student with the second highest cumulative WGPA as the salutatorian. If two students are tied for valedictorian, both students will receive this honor and the student with the next highest cumulative WGPA will be designated the salutatorian. Each school will determine how to recognize students with cumulative WGPAs of 4.0 or better, and will include recognition of these students in its commencement program.