Deciding which subjects to take in high school can be overwhelming. With so many options, how do you know which ones are right for you and your future goals? This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the number of subjects offered in high school.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the number of course subjects offered in high schools typically ranges from around 15 to 35. However, the exact number varies by school district and state graduation requirements.

In this article, we’ll start by looking at the typical core subject areas covered. We’ll then discuss elective course options, advanced programs like AP and IB, and how factors like school district and state can impact the number of subjects available.

We’ll also provide some tips on narrowing down your choices. Let’s dive in!

Core Academic Subjects

English Language Arts

English Language Arts is one of the core academic subjects taught in high school. It encompasses various aspects of language, including reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and literature analysis. Students learn how to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas through written and verbal communication.

They also explore different genres of literature and analyze literary devices used by authors to enhance their writing. English Language Arts classes help students develop critical thinking and analytical skills, which are essential for success in college and beyond.


Mathematics is another core subject that high school students study. It covers a wide range of topics, including algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and probability. Math classes not only focus on solving equations and mathematical problems but also on developing logical reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Students learn how to apply mathematical concepts to real-life situations and develop a solid foundation in mathematical principles. Math skills are highly valued in various professions, such as engineering, finance, and computer science.


Science is a fundamental subject taught in high school, encompassing various branches such as biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science. Students learn about the natural world, scientific principles, and the methods used to investigate and understand scientific phenomena.

They conduct experiments, analyze data, and draw conclusions based on their findings. Science education helps students develop critical thinking skills, scientific literacy, and an appreciation for the scientific method.

It also prepares them for further studies or careers in fields such as medicine, research, and engineering.

Social Studies

Social Studies is a subject that explores various aspects of human society, including history, geography, economics, and civics. Students learn about different cultures, historical events, political systems, and economic theories.

They develop an understanding of how societies function, their impact on the world, and the importance of civic participation. Social Studies classes encourage students to think critically about social issues, analyze primary and secondary sources, and develop a global perspective.

This knowledge is valuable for informed citizenship and can lead to careers in fields such as law, international relations, and education.


High school students have the opportunity to explore a variety of electives in addition to their core academic subjects. These electives allow students to pursue their interests, develop new skills, and discover potential career paths.

Here are some of the popular elective subjects offered in high schools:

Foreign Languages

Learning a foreign language not only opens up doors to new cultures and experiences, but it also enhances cognitive abilities and improves communication skills. High school students can choose from a range of languages such as Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, and more.

Taking a foreign language elective can be a valuable asset in today’s globalized world.

Physical Education and Health

Physical education and health classes are essential for promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. These classes focus on teaching students the importance of physical fitness, nutrition, and overall well-being.

Students engage in various sports and activities, learning teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills.

Arts and Music

The arts and music play a vital role in fostering creativity and self-expression. High schools offer a wide range of elective courses such as drawing, painting, photography, theater, choir, band, and orchestra.

These classes provide students with opportunities to develop their artistic talents and explore their passion for the arts.

Technology and Vocational

With the increasing demand for technological skills in the job market, high schools now offer electives in technology and vocational fields. Students can learn computer programming, web design, robotics, automotive technology, culinary arts, and more.

These electives equip students with practical skills that can lead to promising career paths.

Other Electives

In addition to the above-mentioned electives, high schools often offer a wide range of other elective subjects to cater to diverse student interests. These may include subjects like psychology, sociology, entrepreneurship, journalism, environmental science, and many more.

These electives provide students with opportunities to explore their passions and expand their knowledge in various fields.

It is important for students to take advantage of the elective subjects offered in high school. These subjects not only provide a break from the traditional academic curriculum but also allow students to develop well-rounded skills and discover their interests and passions.

So, whether it’s learning a new language, exploring the arts, or delving into technology, high school electives offer a world of possibilities for students.

Advanced Programs

High school students who are looking for a more challenging curriculum and the opportunity to earn college credit may choose to participate in advanced programs. These programs offer a more rigorous and specialized education, allowing students to delve deeper into specific subjects of interest.

Two popular advanced programs in high schools are Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB).

Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement, commonly known as AP, is a program developed by the College Board. It offers college-level courses to high school students and allows them to earn college credit or advanced placement in college.

AP courses cover a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, science, English, history, and more. These courses are designed to be challenging and provide students with a taste of what college-level coursework entails.

AP courses are typically taught by highly qualified teachers who follow a standardized curriculum. At the end of each course, students have the opportunity to take an AP exam, which is scored on a scale of 1 to 5.

Many colleges and universities accept AP exam scores for credit or advanced placement, allowing students to potentially skip introductory college courses.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is another advanced program offered in high schools. It is an internationally recognized curriculum that aims to develop well-rounded and globally-minded individuals.

The IB program consists of a comprehensive set of courses and assessments, focusing on critical thinking, research skills, and community service.

IB courses cover a wide range of subjects, including languages, sciences, humanities, and the arts. Students who complete the IB program are awarded an IB diploma, which is highly regarded by colleges and universities around the world.

The program also emphasizes the development of skills such as time management, self-discipline, and intercultural understanding.

Both AP and IB programs provide students with the opportunity to challenge themselves academically and stand out in college admissions. It is worth noting that the availability of these programs may vary from school to school, so students should check with their high school guidance counselors for specific information about advanced program offerings.

Factors Impacting Number of Subjects Offered

When it comes to the number of subjects offered in high school, there are several factors that can impact this. These factors include the school district and the state graduation requirements.

School District

The school district plays a significant role in determining the number of subjects offered in high school. Each school district has its own curriculum guidelines and policies, which can vary from one district to another.

Some school districts may offer a wide range of subjects, including traditional core subjects like English, math, science, and social studies, as well as elective courses in subjects like arts, music, foreign languages, and technology.

Other school districts may have a more limited selection of subjects based on their resources and priorities.

The number of subjects offered in a school district can also be influenced by factors such as the size of the district, the availability of qualified teachers, and the preferences and needs of the local community.

For example, a larger school district may have more resources and staff to offer a greater variety of subjects, while a smaller district may have fewer resources and be more limited in the subjects it can offer.

State Graduation Requirements

In addition to the school district, state graduation requirements also play a role in determining the number of subjects offered in high school. Each state has its own set of graduation requirements that students must meet in order to earn a high school diploma.

These requirements often include a certain number of credits in specific subjects, such as English, math, science, social studies, and physical education.

While the core subjects are typically mandated by the state, there is often flexibility for schools to offer additional elective courses based on student interests and local needs. However, the extent to which schools can offer additional subjects may vary depending on the state’s policies and regulations.

It’s important to note that the number of subjects offered in high school can vary significantly from one school district to another and from one state to another. Therefore, it’s always a good idea for students and parents to research and understand the specific curriculum offerings and graduation requirements of their local high school or school district.

Tips for Choosing Your Subjects

Consider your interests and career goals

When it comes to choosing your subjects in high school, one of the most important factors to consider is your own interests and career goals. Think about what subjects you enjoy and excel in, as well as those that align with your future aspirations.

For example, if you have a passion for science and dream of becoming a doctor, it would make sense to take subjects like biology and chemistry. Taking subjects that you are genuinely interested in can make the learning experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Talk to your guidance counselor

Your guidance counselor is an invaluable resource when it comes to choosing your high school subjects. They are there to provide guidance and support in helping you make informed decisions. Schedule a meeting with your counselor to discuss your interests, strengths, and career aspirations.

They can provide you with valuable insights into the subjects that would best suit your goals. They may also be able to offer information on advanced placement (AP) courses or other specialized programs that could enhance your educational experience.

Aim for a balanced schedule

While it’s important to choose subjects that align with your interests and goals, it’s also crucial to aim for a balanced schedule. This means selecting a mix of subjects from different disciplines such as math, science, humanities, and the arts.

A balanced schedule allows you to develop a well-rounded skill set and can provide you with a broader perspective on various subjects. It’s also important to consider your workload and ensure that you can handle the demands of each subject without feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t overcommit

While it’s great to challenge yourself and explore new subjects, it’s important not to overcommit. Taking on too many subjects can lead to burnout and hinder your overall academic performance. It’s important to realistically assess how much time and energy you can dedicate to each subject and ensure that you have enough time for extracurricular activities and personal commitments.

Remember, it’s better to excel in a few subjects than to spread yourself too thin and struggle to keep up with all of them.


Selecting your high school courses is an important process that requires planning and reflection on your skills, interests, and goals. While the number of subjects offered may seem endless, focusing on core requirements, electives in your areas of interest, and advanced courses suited to your abilities will help you narrow down your options.

With an understanding of the typical subject areas covered in high school, you’ll be prepared to make informed decisions and chart an academic path to match your aspirations. Reach out to your guidance counselor if you need any assistance in mapping out your four-year plan.

With the right balance of courses, you’ll not only meet graduation requirements, but gain knowledge and skills for the future.

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