While the awarding of a Regents diploma is intended to demonstrate that the graduate is academically outstanding, some studies show that college performance may not bear out this premise. Usually, a Regents diploma program is administered by the state and requires a high school diploma or equivalent; however, in rare instances, a particular high school may have its own Regents diploma. A state may administer Regents examinations to determine whether students have gained a defined level of knowledge in each of several subjects, including math, English, U.S. history, world history and science. Other approaches may require a school official to recommend a student for the diploma, or for a student to apply for it. Sometimes an interview or a student-created portfolio demonstrating competency are part of the process. In some instances, excellent class attendance is also required. Volunteer service may also be a criterion.
Most states offering Regents diplomas offer a single diploma. Some states, however, offer several different Regents diplomas. In addition to the basic Regents diploma, there may be an advanced Regents diploma or an advanced Regents diploma with honors. The advanced diplomas require extra coursework, often in math and science. Students who are eligible for an advanced diploma and who have exam scores much higher than the basic required scores receive the advanced diploma with honors. States with Regency exams require all students to take those exams. There is only a slight variation in course requirements between states. Required courses commonly include:
- Social science
- A single foreign language (not English)
- Fine arts
Students pursuing a Regents diploma will need to meet state-specific requirements and application processes. Most required courses include math, English, history and science.