The Basic High School Subjects and Classes

What Your Teen Will Study in High School

Teenage girl receiving graded homework in class, smiling
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Every school will be different in the classes that they require high school students to take. There are, however, a number of classes that are universal to curriculum.

As your teenager enters high school, these are the basic classes they may be required to take. As a parent, you can use this list to talk to your teen about their class schedules and show an interest in what they are studying.

English or Language Arts

Studying the English language and literature is an important part of high school.

These classes will teach teens about writing, speaking in front of groups and have them study many of the important pieces of literature.

Most states require 3-4 years of English or Language Arts classes. They typically can be taken at a basic level or at an honors level.

The main English classes in high school are:

  • Literature
  • Writing or Composition
  • Speech

Mathematics

Math is important to an education and in high school, students begin to dig into topics of math that go beyond the basics. Algebra and geometry are required at most high schools and students can choose to study these subjects deeper if they like.

Most states require 3-4 years of Math coursework in high school. They can be taken at a basic level or at an honors level.

The main math classes in high school are:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II
  • Trigonometry and/or Calculus
  • Statistics

Science

Basic biology and chemistry are required at most high schools.

These can be fun classes for students because teachers give them interesting experiments and demonstrations to learn from.

Most states require 3-4 years of Science coursework in high school. They can be taken at a basic level or at an honors level and are often available as more advanced classes as well.

The main science classes in high school are:

  • Biology (typically has advanced classes)
  • Chemistry (typically has advanced classes)
  • Physics (typically has advanced classes)
  • Earth or Space Sciences

Social Studies

Understanding how the world works is important for young adults. In high school, students will study history and government and learn about how this affects them in their lives.

Most states require 3-4 years of Social Studies coursework in high school. They can be taken at a basic level or at an honors level and are often available to take more in an advanced class.

The main social studies classes in high school are:

  • U.S. History
  • U.S. Government
  • Economics
  • World History
  • Geography

Foreign Languages

Learning a second language is important in today's global world. High school students are often required to learn the basics of at least one foreign language and they can choose to take advanced classes to learn more.

Many schools across the United States require 1 year of Foreign Language coursework in high school.

The three main languages offered in high school are:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German

Other High School Classes

High schools offer a variety of other classes. Some may be required in the school's curriculum and some are electives that students may choose.

These classes may include:

  • Arts
  • Computer applications
  • Physical education
  • Trade field study

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