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Graduation Requirements 

The first step to ensuring you are ready for college is graduating from high school! It is essential that you understand exactly what you need to do in order to graduate from high school on time. Check your transcript regularly and speak with your school counselor annually to ensure that you are on the right track!

How many credits do I need to earn a diploma from MMSD?

Typically, students need 22 credits to earn an MMSD diploma: The exact number of credits needed depends on the type of schedule at your high school  and whether you only attend high school in MMSD or transfer into MMSD, sometime during your high school experience, from another school district.

Below you will find the number of credits you need for graduation.

9th-12th grade at East, West, Memorial or Shabazz (all have a 7-period day schedule).

22 credits

LaFollette Students (due to recent changes in the LHS schedule)

Class of 2021 - 24 credits

Class of 2022 - 23 credits

Class of 2023 - 22 credits

11th - 12th grade having spent 2-3 years at La Follette and the remainder at East, West or Memorial

24-26 credits (see your counselor)

9th - 12th grade at Capital

Graduation by portfolio

12th grade at an MMSD high school but spent some time in 9th-12th grade at a school outside of MMSD

Credits needed vary (see your school counselor)

What Specific Courses Do I Need to Earn my MMSD diploma?

Because of recent revisions to our graduation requirements (Summer 2016), the specific courses that you need to earn a diploma from MMSD varies depending on your grade level. Some variation may also exist for students receiving Special Education services based on their Individualized Education Plan. Please see the information below for more details.

Class of 2021 and beyond

  • English - 4 credits (Including successful completion of English 1 & 2)
  • Math - 3 credits (Including coursework in algebraic and geometric concepts)
  • Science - 3 credits (Including coursework in biological and physical sciences)
  • Social Studies - 3 credits (Including successful completion of US History and a semester of Modern US History)
  • Additional Requirements - 1.5 credits PE, .5 credit Health, Civics Exam (65% or higher), 1 credit of Humanities (e.g., Art, Theater, Music, World Language, etc.), successful completion of a course that incorporates financial literacy or consumer education

How do I know if I am on track to graduate on time?  

It is essential that you monitor your credits to ensure that you are on track to graduate on time. You can do this by viewing your unofficial transcript in Infinite Campus (under Reports). It is recommended that you audit your transcript after each semester to ensure that it is accurate. This Reviewing Your High School Transcript tip sheet will help you know what to look for. Your school counselor is an excellent resource for additional support.

Selecting the Right CoursesStudent meeting with counselor

Your school counselor, your parents and your teachers are your best resource when it comes to selecting the right courses for you. Each student is traveling a different path so talk to those who know to help you make the best decisions. Below are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Challenge yourself - don't take the easy way out (not even your senior year!)  Consider taking an Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) or Dual Credit (earn college credit while still in high school) course in a subject area that interests you. These courses are available to EVERYONE!
  • Explore - high school is a time to try new things. Check out that coding course, or that small engines class to help you discover your interests and talents. 
  • Develop your passion- are you passionate about engineering, health sciences or another topic? Consider taking multiple courses in this area throughout your high school career to build your knowledge. 
  • Meet requirements - make sure the courses you take meet the graduation requirements listed above. 


Wisconsin Student Assessment System - These assessments are given to all MMSD students during school hours. 

WI Forward Exam - All MMSD 6th, 7th, 8th grade students take the WI Forward Exam. The Exam is designed to gauge how well students are doing in relation to the Wisconsin Academic Standards.  These standards outline what students should know and be able to do in order to be college and career ready.

ACT Aspire - All MMSD 9th and 10th grade students take the ACT Aspire assessment. The Aspire test is precursor to the ACT and can be used to predict how a student will perform on the ACT.

ACT - All MMSD 11th grade students take the ACT in second semester. Students can select up to four schools to send their ACT score to for free when filling in the pretest information. The ACT is accepted by all US colleges and universities, is the nation’s most taken college entrance exam, is based on correct answers only. Students may also test ACT on their own. Colleges consider a student’s highest score for admission.  Income-eligible ACT takers receive college application fee waivers. See your school counselor for more information.

Optional/Other Assessments: All MMSD students may take these exams, 

PSAT - 10th grade and some 11th grade students. The PSAT is the official route of entry to the National Merit Scholarship Program. See your school counselor for information on how to take the PSAT.

SAT - 11th and 12th grade students. The SAT is an admission test accepted by all U.S. colleges. Students may take the SAT multiple times. Colleges consider a student’s highest score for admission. Income-eligible SAT takers receive college application fee waivers. See your school counselor for more information. Read Should You Take the ACT or SAT to learn more.

Accuplacer - 12th grade students. Accuplacer is utilized at Technical and Community Colleges. Accuplacer testing is available at Madison College.

Test Prep: All MMSD students have access to Method Test Prep through their Xello account. 


  • Log-in to Xello.
  • Scroll to the bottom of your homepage/dashboard.
  • Click Method Test Prep under Links and Resources. 

This test prep site offers a 20 week course, 2 full length ACT tests, lessons and quizzes in each subject area, and a vocabulary builder for FREE through Xello. 

Extracurricular Activities

High school is a much more enjoyable experience when you get involved in volunteering, clubs and athletics. College admissions counselors are interested in learning about how you spend your time outside of academics. Find something you are passionate about and get involved. Your high school has a listing of all extracurricular activities on their website. Don't see something that interests you? Start a new club! The article below highlights a few important things to keep in mind as you explore your interests. 

College Board - Extracurriculars Matter

Academic and Career Planning (ACP)

Madison has a goal for all our students to graduate with the skills and abilities to be successful in college, career and community. This goal was developed with feedback from more than 2500 students, teachers and community members. You can see these skills above in what we call the MMSD Graduate Vision. Teachers support student development of Graduate Vision skills as part of the Academic and Career Planning process.

Through Academic & Career Planning students are beginning to answer these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I going?
  • How will I get there?
  • Who are we together?

Early College Credit Opportunities/Dual Credit

Start College Now/Early College Credit Program and Part-Time Open Enrollment (formerly knows as Youth Options and Course Options) - There are many great ways to earn college credit while you are still in high school. It is our goal that all MMSD students will graduate high school with some college credits. Check out  Early College Credit Options to discover ways to take courses at a Wisconsin Technical College or a Wisconsin Public or Private College. Deadlines to apply are October 1 and March 1 of each year. 

Early College Stem Academy(ECSA) - Through ECSA students take all courses during 11th and 12th grades at Madison College, earning college credits as they go. In some cases, a student may graduate with an Associate's Degree. Students may apply and interview for this program in 10th grade. 

Transcripted Credit Courses - Most of our high schools offer courses for transcripted credit (TC) to Madison College (these credits may transfer to other colleges). See your school's course guidebook or speak to your school counselor for a full listing of these classes). These courses are open to any student, no application is required. 

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit Information - Students who enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school have the potential to earn college credits after taking and earning certain scores on the AP exam. These college-level courses prepare high school students for the rigor of college coursework. These courses are open to any student, no application is required. 

Pre College Programs 

Pre College Programs are designed for students who are curious about college. These programs often offer individualized support to high school students as they navigate the college preparation process. Each program has unique application processes and deadlines. 

AVID/TOPS - Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college readiness system that includes 3 components: 1)  an AVID Elective Course for students in the academic middle in grades 7-12 supporting students in the academic middle to attend post-secondary education; 2) AVID Schoolwide, which ensures every student has access to key strategies to help them become college, career, and community ready; 3) the highest quality training and resources to support all school staff. See your school's AVID website or speak to your school counselor for application information. 

Personalized Pathways - In a Personalized Pathway, a student will progress through their core high school content courses, from ninth grade until graduation, in a smaller learning community, allowing them to develop strong, positive relationships with a close-knit group of students and staff who check in regularly and provide support to help students reach their goals. Students apply in 8th grade. Students may also join at the semester throughout high school. See your school counselor for more information. 

People Program - PEOPLE is a college prep scholarship program for students of color and low-income students, most of whom are the first in their families to potentially attend college. Their journey prepares them to apply, be successfully admitted and enroll at the University of Wisconsin System institutions with an emphasis on University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students may apply in 8th grade. 

ITA (Information Technology Academy) - Through ITA, high school students build knowledge and skills with hands-on training, academic support, mentoring, leadership development, community service and internship opportunities. At the same time, the students’ communities benefit from greater access to technology and from the skills and experience gained by these future leaders. Students may apply in 8th grade. 

TEEM Scholars (Tomorrow’s Educators for Equity in Madison) - Forward Madison T.E.E.M. Scholars is designed for 9th and 10th grade MMSD  students with strong academic potential, an interest in attending UW-Madison and teaching in MMSD who are: African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native; Asian, Chicano/a, Puerto Rican, Latino/a, Biracial/Multiracial, low income, first generation college or other underrepresented students. Students may apply in Spring of their 9th grade year or in 10th grade. Applications are available at your high school

Scholar Ahead - This website connects you to finding internships, research opportunities, enrichment programs and more. 

UW Madison Precollege and Youth Programs - Our precollege programs provide youth ages 5-18 with transformative learning experiences in academic and recreational areas of interest. In addition to getting a taste of the college experience, youth benefit from interacting with UW–Madison’s outstanding facilities, resources, and faculty.

Student Athletes (NCAA)

Athletes, particularly those considering a Division I or Division II school have specific course requirements while in high school. This site can help you navigate those requirements.  Students should connect with their school counselor if they intend to participate in college athletics to ensure they are enrolling in the correct courses and meeting all requirements. 

To play Division I and II collegiate athletics, you need to qualify academically. You must meet minimum requirements for both divisions to qualify for NCAA athletics:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Complete 16 Core Courses, in required subject areas
  • Earn a minimum of 2.3 GPA in core courses for Division I and minimum of 2.2 GPA in core courses for Division II to be able to receive athletic scholarship and compete in your first year of college
  • Earn a combined SAT or ACT score that matches your core course GPA on the sliding scale.

For more information talk to your coach and your school counselor. Also check out 2.3 or Take A Knee

Quick Reference Guide to Collegiate Athletics

First Generation College Students

If you are the first in your family to attend college, the process may seem particularly overwhelming. There are many many supports available to you. Be sure to ask for help and look for organizations and offices at your institution of choice that specifically support first generation college students. The following sites will give you step by step support for getting to or through college. 

How to Succeed as a First Generation College Student

Big Future


Students of Undocumented Status

You belong in college too and we can help!  See your school counselor for individualized support to help you meet your education and career goals. Below are a few resources to support you. 

My Undocumented Life

6 Things Undocumented Students Need to Know About College