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Graduation Requirements

Class of 2023 and Beyond

During high school, students earn credits with each course that they successfully complete. Students must earn a minimum number of credits to be promoted to the next grade in high school. The following are the minimum number of credits needed for each grade:

  • Freshmen (grade 9):  0–4.9 credits
  • Sophomores (grade 10):  5–9.9 credits
  • Juniors (grade 11):  10–15.9 credits
  • Seniors (grade 12):  16 or more credits

To graduate from high school, students must earn a minimum of 22 total credits. The 22 credits are made up of both required  credits in the different content areas and elective  credits earned in courses that students choose. Requirements are put in place by state law and the Milwaukee Board of School Directors to ensure that students who graduate are college and career ready. For specific course offerings by school, students should see their school counselor.

Students are encouraged to remain in high school for all four years and earn more than the minimum 22 credits needed to graduate.


  • 4.0 credits: English language arts
  • 3.0 credits: Mathematics (courses at or above the algebra level)
  • 3.0 credits: Science (this must include one course with a lab)
    • One unit of life science
    • One unit of physical science
    • One unit in an additional life science, physical science, earth or space science, or district-approved science course
  • 3.0 credits: Social studies (including state and local government)
  • 1.5 credits: Physical education (must take one course per year over a three-year period*)
    • *A waiver of the final 0.5 unit is available junior or senior year.
  • 0.5 credit: Health
  • 1.0 credit: Fine arts (art, music, dance, or theater)
  • 2.0 credits: World languages
    • English language learners may substitute English as a Second Language courses in place of world languages courses.
  • 1.0 credit: College and career readiness
    • Any combination of approved college and career readiness coursework totaling 1.0 credit. Some courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate diploma courses may count as meeting another requirement and  the college and career readiness requirement. Beginning with the class of 2026 at selected high schools, 0.5 credit of personal finance will be required as one of the college and career readiness courses.  


  • 3.0 or 4.0 credits: A variety of electives is available, often related to the focus of the school.


  • 22.0 credits


  • Students must complete one of the following three options: online learning, community service experience, or service-learning.
  • All students in Wisconsin must pass the district civics test.
  • Students must complete their academic and career plan.
  • Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    • Students who are unable to access parental financial information, are undocumented, or whose parents allow them to abstain must complete the waiver.
  • Some high schools have additional requirements for specific programs or endorsements. Contact your local MPS high school.
  • Each student must meet the credit graduation requirements and have their transcript validated by the school counselor prior to participating in their high school's graduation ceremony.
    • Students seeking to graduate prior to completing four years or eight semesters of high school must declare interest in early graduation by October 1 of the student's fifth semester if graduating in three years or in the seventh semester if graduating in three and a half years.


Ophelia T. King
School Counseling Curriculum Specialist
Department of College and Career Readiness

Phone: 414-475-8128
Fax: 414-475-8457

© Milwaukee Public Schools 2023
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