Graduation

Graduation requirements

All students in New York state must earn 44 credits and pass five Regents exams with a score of at least 65 to graduate. Each semester-long course is worth one credit. Some specialized and alternative schools have additional requirements, as does the Advanced Regents diploma.

Regents diploma

Advanced Regents diploma

8 English (R)

8 English (R)

8 Social Studies (2R)*

8 Social Studies (2R)*

6 Science (R)*

6 Science (2R)*

6 Math (R)*

6 Math (2R)*

2 Foreign Language

6 Foreign Language **

1 Health Education

1 Health Education

4 Physical Education

4 Physical Education

1 Art

1 Art

1 Music

1 Music

7 elective courses

3 elective courses

 

(R) Regents exam required; (2R) two Regents exams required.
* Student may substitute a senior level course in technology for a third year of science or math.
** Students may complete five math or five Career and Technical Education (CTE) credits in place of additional language credits.

Local diploma

In the past, New York City offered a local diploma for students who were unable to complete the requirements for a Regents diploma. For those entering 9th grade after 2008, the local diploma has been eliminated except for certain students receiving special education services.

Regents diploma

Students must pass five Regents exams: English, math, global history, U.S. History and science, with a score of 65 percent or more.

Advanced Regents diploma

To earn an Advanced Regents diploma, students take additional credits in a foreign language, pass an additional Regents exam in science (at least one course should be in life science and one in physical science), and pass a second Regents exam in math. An advanced Regents Diploma with Honors may be issued to students who receive an average of 90 percent or more on all Regents exams. Adjustments are made for students taking a sequence in career and technical education or the arts. More information on the Career and Technical Education sequence can be found on the New York State Department of Education website.

How to appeal a failing Regents score

Students who fail to pass a Regents exam may appeal if they score within 3 percentage points of 65 percent and have met the following criteria:

  • Take the Regents exam in question twice
  • Score within 3 points of the 65 percent passing score on that exam, up to a total of two exams
  • Have a course average in the subject under appeal that meets or exceeds the school's passing grade
  • Present evidence that they have taken advantage of academic help provided by the school in the subject
  • Have an attendance rate of 95 percent for the school year (except for excused absences) during which they last took the Regents exam under appeal
  • Be recommended for an exemption to the graduation requirement by their teacher or department chairperson in the subject


English language Learners

All students designated as English language learners by the Department of Education must pass the Regents English Language Arts Exam to receive a regular high school diploma. However, those students who enter the U.S. in 9th grade or later may take other required Regents examinations in their native languages if the translated exam is available and if the test is taken within three years of when they entered the U.S. The other required Regents examinations are available in Spanish, Chinese and Russian. Oral translation is provided for students if a version of the test is not available in their language.

Students in special education?

Students who receive special education services and are unable to pass the Regents examination may take the Regents Competency Tests, known as the RCT (this is referred to as the "Safety Net") if they enter 9th grade in or after September 2001 and prior to September 2011. In addition, for students who enter 9th grade in or after September 2005, a grade of 55-64 may be considered as a passing score on any Regents exam required for graduation. However, in both of these cases, students will only earn a local, and not a Regent's, diploma. This policy applies both to students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and students who were, but are no longer, in high school special education.

The law states that the majority of students who receive special education services should be prepared to earn regular high school diplomas. However, for a small minority of students, an IEP diploma option is also available. An IEP diploma is not as useful as a regular diploma; for example, you cannot try to enlist in the military services or attend even a two-year college with an IEP diploma. An IEP diploma certifies merely that a student attended school and completed IEP goals. An IEP diploma should not be a goal for students with the potential to meet graduation standards. Students who get IEP diplomas are entitled to stay in school to work toward a regular diploma or GED until the age of 21. Students with disabilities can also be prepared for the GED but cannot be forced to pursue that degree instead of a regular diploma.

If you are not sure whether your child is being prepared for a local, Regents, IEP, or GED diploma, look on page 9 of his IEP. If the IEP says he is tracked for a local or Regent's diploma, talk to the supervisor or assistant principal of special education to make sure he is earning the credits he needs and being prepared for the graduation exams. If the IEP says he is tracked for an IEP diploma, but you think your child should be able to earn a regular diploma, you can request a review meeting and/or use your due process rights. It might help to seek the advice of an advocate or attorney.

You should be focusing on the type of diploma your child is to earn way before he arrives at high school; as soon as your child is enrolled in school, you should be ensuring that he gets access to the regular curriculum and assistance necessary to meet the standards applicable to all children in his age group, unless his cognitive ability will not allow him to do so. Children who miss out on important instruction in the early grades may not be able to catch up later. Please see our page for more information about special education services.