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How Do Homeschoolers Get High School Credits?

Homeschooling has plenty of liberty in what to teach a student. Since parents or the homeschool facilitator decide what to teach, they are responsible for assigning high school credits themselves once the student completes their subjects. Because credits are parent-issued, you may be curious about how homeschoolers get their high school credits.


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Homeschoolers’ High School credits get awarded according to the Carnegie Unit system, which bases accomplishment on the number of hours the homeschooler spends on a particular subject. Textbook completion, external educational providers, and dual enrollments add to credits too.


The ins and outs of the high school credit system can get confusing, and other influencing factors need consideration. We’ll dive into how credits work, the specifics of awarding high school credits, how to create a credit-aligned curriculum and how to calculate GPA according to credits.

How High School Credits Work In Homeschool

A homeschooling system must function to award high school credits so the student can learn and prepare for tertiary education. There are also state laws that mandate the number of credits a high school student needs to attain but to get that done, one needs to understand how credits get awarded.


The Carnegie Unit system is the system that measures the amount of time a student spends on a subject before a credit can get issued. One hundred twenty hours spent on a single topic is the typical amount of time needed to attain recognition for the unit. To reach 120 hours, a student must devote between 40-60 minutes to the subject four to five times a week for around 36 weeks to meet the time requirement.


Some states mandate that a homeschooled high school student needs to spend more than 120 hours which can even reach up to 180 hours, before they can attain a credit. Umbrella schools and other homeschooling institutions also influence the time needed to complete the subject.


Homeschool students have many interests, so half-credit courses are also an option to broaden their fields of study, which entail 60-90 hours that can get completed in a single semester. A half-credit subject is 0.5 units, but the more half-credit courses there are, the more they add up.


There are multiple ways of spending the credit-required time to make up the credit. High school students can do research projects, watch educational videos or documentaries, read books, write tests, or even go on a field trip relating to the subject! It is of utmost importance that students log the time they spend on a topic.


Other Methods For A Homeschooler To Achieve Credits

The Carnegie Unit system is time-based but not the only way for high school homeschoolers to accomplish credits. Completing textbooks and external education also contributes to building up credit units.


Going through an entire textbook is not easy; the good news is that it can contribute to credits. If a high school student completes 80% of their book, a distinction can be assigned, even more so if the textbook focuses on a primary subject like Math or English.


Many homeschoolers seek out external education to supplement their at-home learning. Taking AP college courses is one of the common ways that homeschooled high school students use to have their homeschool education stand out to colleges and universities.


 Although completing AP courses can count between 3 and 5 college credits, completing the course only offers a single high school credit. If the college credit for an AP course is 1 to 2 credits, it only counts as half of the high school credit.


A homeschooled student can also seek out online courses or local classes offered by homeschool groups which add to their time tally. These classes usually assign credits according to the Carnegie Unit system but do your research to ensure that the student earns credit and doesn’t waste their time.


Assigning Credits For A Homeschooler To Graduate

It’s simple enough to assign credits for all the work completed, but they need to amount to enough for a student to complete their high school career. Most of the time, state laws govern credits, and homeschoolers must impress their tertiary institutions to gain acceptance to study there.


The best course of action, and the most vital step to knowing how many credits a high school student needs, is to consult your local laws to ensure that you abide by the necessary regulations to have your child graduate with a complete education. States also mandate certain subjects that need to be studied and the number of credits you assign each.


The standard high school credit requirement varies between 19 and 26 credits, although some states might not have any prerequisites. Most states measure distinctions by Carnegie Units, but if your state has a high number, say 29 credits, they may measure them differently.


High School Subjects get divided into Core Courses and Elective Courses. Core subjects include English, Math, Science, Other Languages, Physical Education, and Fine Arts, while Electives base on personal interests like career-orientated subjects. You’ll need to focus credits on Core Courses before assigning any to Elective Courses, as Core subjects are what the law and tertiary institutions consider.


The second most crucial step is to research what colleges and universities require from a homeschooler to get accepted. The research will help you allocate credit systems to vital subjects that students need to achieve their study and career goals. It might be too early for the high school student to know which tertiary institution they’d like to study at, so getting ideas from multiple institutions is your best bet.


It is best not to overload a high school student with Elective Courses, as it could stress them out, and colleges and universities won’t be as interested as you may think. Tertiary education institutions will mainly look for what they need and maybe a few extra Electives. However, having too many Electives creates the perspective that not enough attention got focused on Core subjects.


What happens if the homeschooler doesn’t earn enough credits? Parents decide what they require for graduation, so if the student is at a loss for the essential credits, they can still receive their diploma. Still, their education will be sub-par and create difficulty for their future career and study ventures. If there are too few credits from the homeschool, the homeschooler can opt to complete a GED to make up for it.


How To Create A Homeschoolers’ High School Curriculum And Assign Credits

After researching state laws and tertiary education institutions, you’ll have a rough idea of where to assign credits and create a high school curriculum for your homeschooler. The curriculum needs to balance Core subjects and Elective Subjects.


It will help if you start listing down mandated Core Subjects and subjects beneficial to chosen tertiary institutions and assigning the necessary credits. You can then deduct the assigned credits from the total amount of credits for the four years of high school. The remaining units are free reign, and you can start looking for subjects that best fit the homeschooler’s interests.


The Core Course credits should divide into four years, 9th grade to 12th grade, so that the student doesn’t get overwhelmed by their curriculum and the knowledge stays with them because it gets spread out. The remaining Elective credits should also be divided by the four years so you can see how many subjects to assign to them annually.


Not all subjects need full credit, so if you wish to teach the homeschooler a vast curriculum, you can divide the credits in half. Hence, they learn one topic during the first semester and move on to a new one in the following semester. It will help to keep the divided Elective subjects relevant to one another so that the homeschooler doesn’t get too confused and look better on college and university applications.


You don’t have to designate all Elective subjects for the entire four years, as children’s interests change, and they might do well on a particular one they’d like to expand on instead of doing a new subject altogether. Planning is excellent, but you might want to leave some room for adjustment both semesterly and annually to accommodate your child’s interests.


You can also plan to outsource certain subjects by looking for online and college AP courses to teach the homeschooler. Outsourcing can create a dynamic learning environment that keeps the high school student on their toes, and it could enrich them more than what their parent could have taught them because, let’s face it, a parent can’t know everything! External education can also alleviate a ton of stress on a working parent.


There’s nothing that prevents a homeschooler from achieving above the mandated requirements. Knowledge is power, and some high school students love to learn, so additional credits can only benefit them but ensure that they don’t get overloaded to the point that causes stress. Consult your homeschooler so they feel they have a say in their subjects, making them more eager to learn.


How To Calculate High School GPA According To Credits

Since there are multiple subjects, each with its credits and mixes between Core and Elective subjects, you may wonder how to calculate the homeschooled student’s GPA and Cumulative GPA upon graduation.


GPA is a numerical average value of the student’s accomplished grades. This value gets summed annually after the homeschooler completes their high school education. It is essential to put a homeschooler’s GPA on their transcript, so colleges and universities can determine if the student meets their standards.


Annual GPA Calculation

Students get graded by letters A to D, and sometimes a plus or minus after the letter depending on how the homeschool facilitator tallies the student’s marks. For a parent to calculate the GPA, grades are assigned points to each topic of study are A=4, B=3, C=2, and D=1, and it doesn’t matter if they are Core or Elective. If you grade with pluses and minuses, they get allocated a +0.3 or -0.3 accordingly.


If the homeschooler completes a subject under Advanced Placement or Honors course, the point score will weigh one extra point; for example, an A will equal 5 points.


The GPA is calculated based on the converted points multiplied by the number of the year’s credits, half-credits being 0.5, to generate what is known as a quality point score. Once the quality point score gets computed, it is divided by the number of subjects, producing the final annual GPA.


The calculated GPA gets rounded up to two decimal places. Failed subjects don’t get included in the quality point calculation but count as a taught subject when it gets divided.


Cumulative GPA Calculation

Once a homeschooled student has completed all four high school years, their yearly GPA needs to convert into a final or cumulative GPA. You may think to just average the yearly GPA over the four years, but that is not the case.


To find the Cumulative GPA score, you’ll need to assign the same points as you would for an annual GPA, but instead, to every subject taught across the four years, and then add them together. Then you must divide the total score by the entire credit amount to get the final cumulative GPA. You can calculate a Cumulative GPA from 9th grade onwards if you’d like to or find it necessary. The Cumulative GPA in 8th grade is the same as an annual GPA.


Since GPA calculations are essential, it may help to have an external moderator to double-check the calculation. You can also seek help via your local homeschooling committee to make extra sure.



Homeschoolers get high school credits based on the Carnegie Unit system by completing textbooks and learning through external parties like an online course. The homeschooler’s parent needs to create a curriculum and assign credits to each subject based on state laws, tertiary education requirements, and the student’s interests.


GPA calculations include credits when it gets calculated, so it’s crucial to verify the annual and cumulative GPA to ensure everything is correct. We hope we’ve clarified the particulars of homeschoolers’ high school credits!














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