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North Carolina
429,596 high school students

State Profile
As states work to raise their academic standards, several national high school reform initiatives are assisting them in their efforts to strengthen their high schools so that they provide students with a 21st century education and skills.

Through the profile provided here, the National High School Center offers (a) a snapshot of the state’s graduation requirements and college entrance requirements (see table below) and (b) summaries of national reform initiatives active in the state (see list below table).

High School and College Alignment in the State
The following table shows the state’s alignment between high school graduation requirements and minimum state college entrance requirements, providing a quick source for determining whether there is a gap between what students must know to graduate and what they are expected to have mastered in order to enter college.

  High School Graduation Requirements* College Admission Requirements**

English Units




English I, II, III, IV

emphasizing grammar, composition and literature

Mathematics Units




Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II OR Integrated Math I, II, III

in any of the following combinations:
-algebra I and II, geometry, and one unit beyond algebra II,
-algebra I and II, and two units beyond algebra II, OR
-integrated math I, II, and III, and one unit beyond integrated math III.

Social Studies Units




Civics and Economics, US History, World History

U.S. History

Science Units




Physical Science course, Biology, Earth/ Environmental Science

including at least one in a life or biological science (for example, biology),
at least one unit in physical science (for example, physical science, chemistry, physics), and at least one laboratory course

Foreign Language Units



Art Units



Additional Units

Health/P.E. – 1
Career and Technical Education (CTE)/Arts Education/Second Languages - 2
Electives from CTE, JROTC, Arts Education, or any other subject area – 4


Total Units




SAT or ACT with writing component


North Carolina State Board of Education

University of North Carolina System

* Graduation requirements for ninth graders entering in 2009-2010, known as the Future-Ready Core. Local school boards may set additional requirements.
** Admission requirements for the University of North Carolina System.

National High School Improvement Initiatives at Work in the State
As states work to ready high school students for postsecondary success, many are partnering with national organizations to undertake high school improvement efforts. The following list includes national improvement initiatives at work in the state. National initiatives are defined as significant programs, projects, technical assistance, or key information clearinghouses dedicated to high school improvement. For information about and related to research on these initiatives, please click on the name of the initiative to link to a synthesis:

North Carolina State High School Improvement Initiatives
For information on high school improvement initiatives launched at the state level visit North Carolina’s High School Turnaround Web page.

North Carolina ARRA Information
For information on North Carolina's ARRA efforts as it relates to education, please visit the state Web page.