New Jersey High School Diplomas: Requirements and Options

Students in New Jersey can earn a high school diploma by attending secondary school and accumulating a set number of credits. They may also earn a high school equivalency diploma by taking the GED exam. This article details how to go about both of these pathways in order to receive a diploma.

Requirements for Earning a High School Diploma in New Jersey

Requirements for both a typical high school diploma and the New Jersey State Issued High School Diploma, which is the state's equivalency diploma, are available on the State of New Jersey Department of Education website (

High School Diploma Requirements

The traditional option for earning a high school diploma involves attending a secondary school full time, which typically takes four years. There are a total of 120 credits required to graduate from high school in New Jersey. Curriculum requirements were modified in 2009-2010 to align with the Core Curriculum Content Standards.

Course requirements for earning a high school diploma in New Jersey include mandatory core subjects like science, social studies, math and world languages. Students also must fulfill the 120-credit requirement by taking a varying number of elective credits. The following are the set number of credits per subject area needed to graduate:

  • Language arts literacy: 20
  • Math: 15
  • Science: 15
  • Social studies: 15
  • Financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy: 2.5
  • Health, safety and physical education: 3.75 per year
  • Visual and performing arts: 5
  • Career-technical education: 5
  • World languages: 5

GED Test Requirements

In New Jersey, like many other states, a resident who has not earned a high school diploma and isn't enrolled in a high school program can earn the equivalent of a high school diploma by passing the required GED tests. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older can take the tests. Those who are 16 or 17 years old can take the test provided they supply proper consent forms.

The GED tests cover several broad concepts that match the high school curricula in the state of New Jersey. These include language arts, social studies, science and math. Students must score a 150 out of 200 on each subject test and earn an overall score of 600 to pass. Here is a general breakdown of each of the GED tests:

Reasoning Through Language Arts

This GED test consists of both a reading comprehension part and a writing component. Students will need to demonstrate their analysis of arguments and knowledge of English grammar, usage and punctuation. The test should take approximately three hours.

Social Studies

This test covers U.S. history, economics, geography, civics and government. The test includes extended response passages that the student must read and then answer questions using source documents. Students should spend about 90 minutes on the exam.


The subject matter in this test involves life, physical, earth and space sciences. Students will take about 75 minutes to complete the test.

Mathematical Skills

This section consists of questions on quantitative and algebraic problem solving. The first section must be completed without a calculator, but students may use the device on the second section. The test should take approximately 75 minutes to finish.

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