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Honors Diploma

Criteria For Awarding A Diploma With Honors (Class of '24 and '25)

*updates coming for the class of '26 and beyond

High school students can gain state recognition for exceeding Ohio’s graduation requirements through an Academic Honors Diploma. High-level coursework, college and career readiness tests and real-world experiences challenge students. 

(1) The student who completes the more rigorous high school academic curriculum shall meet at least seven of the following eight criteria: 

(a) Earn four units of English; 

(b) Earn at least four units of Mathematics 

(c) Earn at least four units of Science, including two units of advanced science

(d) Earn four units of Social Studies; 

(e) Earn either three units of one Foreign language or two units of each of two Foreign Languages; 

(f) Earn one unit of Fine Arts; 

(g) Maintain an overall high school grade point average of at least 3.5 on a four-point scale up to the last grading period of the senior year; or 

(h) Obtain a composite score of twenty-seven on the American college test’s ACT assessment (excluding the optional writing test) or a combined score of twelve hundred eighty on the college board’s SAT.

New Honors Diploma Requirements 

High school students can gain state recognition for exceeding Ohio’s graduation requirements through an Academic Honors Diploma. High-level coursework, college and career readiness tests and real-world experiences challenge students.

Students must meet all but one of the following criteria. Each of these criteria go beyond the standard requirements for a diploma for the classes of 2023 and beyond. Students must meet general graduation requirements and complete the requirements outlined below to qualify for honors diplomas. Students may replace options 4, 5 or 6 with a “Student Strength Demonstration.” The previous requirements to earn an honors diploma are also available for students in the classes of 2023-2025.


Requirements State Minimum
1 Math Fourth math must be > Algebra 2 
2 Science One additional unit Advanced Science
3 Social Studies One additional unit Social Studies
4 World Languages Three sequential units of one world language, or no less than 2 sequential units of two world languages studied
5 GPA 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
6 ACT/SAT ACT: Score of 27 or higher, SAT: Score of 1280 or higher
7 Seal Requirement Earn two additional diploma seals, not including Honors Diploma Seal
8 Experiencial Learning Field Experience, OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal*, Portfolio or Work-Based Learning

*Students can use OMJ Readiness Seal in 2 additional seals requirement if it is not used in Experiential Learning.

Student Strength Demonstration Replacement

Students can use the Student Strength Demonstration to replace the ACT/SAT, GPA or World Language requirement for any Honors Diploma. The Student Strength Demonstration options are listed below. The same options exist for each of the six honors diplomas* but, where relevant, should reflect coursework or experiences relevant to the theme of the Diploma. For example, a student earning the Academic Honors Diploma and using the College Credit Plus option to replace another requirement for the diploma should have College Credit Plus courses relevant to the Academic Honors diploma.


Additional Information

To be eligible, students must complete units, or credits, in specific subjects (see above chart). They can use Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, College Credit Plus and Credit Flexibility coursework to meet the coursework requirements of an honors diploma. A single course can meet multiple criteria if it fits under multiple subject areas.

Students also can design their own independent study courses. This requires that someone with proper licensure in the subject area must teach or co-teach the courses used for an honors diploma.


Students must take algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2 (or equivalent), and one other higher level course OR a four-course sequence that contains equivalent or higher content.


Advanced science courses contain rigorous content appropriate for grades 11 and 12. An advanced science course builds on the concepts and skills developed in the physical science and biology courses detailed in Ohio’s Learning Standards for Science.

Appropriate advanced science courses include:

  • Chemistry, physics or other physical sciences;
  • Advanced biology or other life sciences;
  • Astronomy;
  • Physical geology or other Earth or space science; and
  • Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) Earth, life or physical science courses.


Students may get credit for both an American history course and/or the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or a College Credit Plus American history course. This also applies for modern world history courses and American government courses.


Only credits from courses that are sequential, and proficiency based (e.g., Spanish levels I, II, III or German I and II and French I and II) fulfill the honors diploma requirement. Sequential classical (e.g., Latin, Ancient Greek) and visual (e.g., American Sign Language) languages DO fulfill the honors diploma requirement. No units from language courses coded as “Foreign Language Exploratory” can count toward the honors diploma requirement. No units from culture-based courses can count toward the honors diploma requirements. College Credit Plus courses must continue - not repeat - the learning sequence already completed. High school levels I and II need to be followed by a second level College Credit Plus course minimally to continue the proficiency growth sequence.

If a student opts to complete this criterion by taking two units each of two world languages studied, a student must complete a total of four world language units. This means two sequential, proficiency-based units in two different languages.


GPAs must be calculated on an unweighted 4.0 scale.


Students must have scores of 27 or higher on the ACT or 1280 or higher on the SAT or their equivalents on previous or future versions of the tests. The ACT writing and SAT essay sections are not included. Students can use a superscore on the ACT or SAT to meet the requirement scores.


Students must earn two additional diploma seals beyond the required two for graduation. The Honors Diploma Seal cannot be used towards the additional two diploma seals. In total, students are required to earn four diploma seals, not including an Honors Diploma Seal.


Students can earn the experiential learning option by meeting one of the following options: field experience, portfolio, OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal and work-based learning.


To fulfill the field experience criterion, a student must complete a learning experience that is pertinent to his or her honors diploma area of focus. Experiential learning is focused on the application of academic and technical skills within a student’s program of study. Experiential learning includes lab-based activities, co-ops, simulated workplace, mentorships, internships, pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships. Lab-based experiential learning should simulate real-work worksites and expectations. Students should receive regular supervision and follow-up that is documented. Click here for more detailed guidance on field experience .


Work that is contained in a portfolio documents the student’s extensive knowledge and technical, critical-thinking and creative skills (representative of the student’s honors diploma area of focus) that the student has learned. Students must get their portfolios reviewed and validated by external experts. Click here for more detailed guidance on the portfolio criterion .


To earn the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal, motivated high school students must demonstrate specific professional skills required for success in the workplace. Students must work with at least three experienced and trusted mentors who validate the demonstration of these skills in school, work or the community. If a student earns the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal as a part of their experiential learning requirement, it can not count as one of their additional seals earned.


Work-based learning experiences are conducted at a work site during or after school. They are designed to provide authentic learning experiences to students that link academic, technical and professional skills. Business and education partners work together to evaluate and supervise the experience, which must be documented with learning agreements.