Homeschooling High School: Determining Credits

Welcome back! Yesterday, I discussed how I came up with the framework of my daughter’s high school courses. Today, I want to share with you how I determined how many credits each class will earn.


There are several different methods of earning high school credit. I use three, based on information I learned in Home School for High School, Upper Level High School, and Total Transcript Solution.

The Carnegie Unit. It is generally understood to mean that to have earned “1 credit hour,” the student has completed 135-150 hours of coursework. So that would be a typical 45-50 minute class that meets every day of a 180-day  school year.

So, a student would earn 1 credit hour for, say, completion of Algebra I or biology. If they were doing an outside class that meets four days a week for an hour or one that meets two or three days a week for two to two-and-a-half hours, that would typically count for 1 credit hour.

When I looked up the requirements for high school graduation in Georgia, they were listed as: four credits in math, three credits in social studies, etc. So that would equal four years of math and three years of social studies using the Carnegie unit. Pretty simple, straightforward stuff.

Completion. In some cases, you might decide that completion (of the course, the book, the class, etc.) is worth so many credit hours.

For example, when Brianna finishes the Dave Ramsey Foundations in Personal Finance course, she will earn 1/2 credit in economics/consumer math. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had several books that I wanted her to read as part of her health class. I didn’t care if she read them all in one “semester” or over the course of the school year. Her credit was earned when they were completed.

You might have a list of 12 books that you want your child to complete as part of a literature course. He could read three books a year off that list and, by his senior year, earn one credit hour for the course.

Another example would be a textbook that would generally be considered to be a year’s worth of material. If your math-loving teen (I know they’re out there somewhere…just not at my house) finishes Algebra I and geometry in six months, she would still receive one credit hour for each. Even though it didn’t take her a full school year to complete the courses, she completed the books that would generally make up a full year’s worth of work.

The flip side of that is the kid who takes two years to complete Algebra I. He would still receive just one credit hour for Algebra I, despite taking two years to complete it, because it is considered to be a one-year course.

Mastery. You may choose to award credit for some courses once the concepts or skills are mastered, whether this takes place over the course of a semester or over the course of the four years of high school.

Let’s say that you want your child learn how to:

  • balance a checkbook
  • figure interest
  • budget money
  • save and invest
  • fill out tax forms

Once these and any other money management/consumer math skills that he needs to learn before moving out on his own have been acquired you could assign one credit for consumer math (or whatever you choose to title the course) on his transcript, though you may not have taught them as formal, sit-down lessons during a single school term.

This could also apply to an apprenticeship situation. For example, you might award your child credit hours in auto mechanics based on hours spent working with someone skilled in that area.

Thinking of high school credits for transcripts can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Using a variety of methods to figure credits can leave you a great deal of flexibility in your homeschool while still providing you and your teen a point of reference and the accountability you both need.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th!

This post contains affiliate links.

Have you voted in the 7th Annual Homeschool Blog Awards? Please consider voting for WUHS in one or more of the following categories: Favorite Homeschool Mom, Best HS Blog Design, Best Photos, Best Encourager, Funniest, Best HS Variety, Best HS Methods, Best Super Homeschooler, Best Nitty Gritty Blog. Thanks!

The Blogger NetworkAdvertise with us Report this ad


  1. Jennifer L. W. Fink says

    My oldest starts high school next year. I'm sure I'll be checking in over the summer as I figure out how to pull together a high school curriculum!

  2. Jennifer L. W. Fink says

    My oldest starts high school next year. I'm sure I'll be checking in frequently over the next year or so as I figure out how to handle the logistics.

  3. Kimberly says

    I am confused as what to do. Last year my son was considered 9th grade. We have been using Alpha Omega’s LifePacs for math which are difficult & time consuming, so he has only completed the 6th grade level with them. His CAT testing scores show that he is at a 9.5 grade level for Mathematics Computation & a 12.3 grade level for Mathematics Concepts & Problems. Since he tests well can I count their 6th grade level course as a high school general math credit? Thanks for any help!

    • Kris Bales says

      That’s a question that I don’t feel qualified to answer. I would suggest calling or emailing AOP and asking them. Personally, I would only count high school level math courses (Algebra I & II, geometry, trig, calculus, etc.) for high school credit. I might consider one general math credit as a 9th grade course for a struggling learner, with the remaining 3 credits coming from the courses I mentioned previously.

      You might also see what your local public high school graduations requirements are, along with admission requirements for colleges that your son might like to attend. That will give you a good idea of what to count for your son’s transcripts.

  4. says

    I’ve got one for you. My son swims on a local swim team during the summers. The season is 7 weeks with 21 one- hour practices and 6 three – hour meets. That totals 39 very intensive hours but it’s a full swimming season. Would you give 1/2 or 1 credit for that? I’m trying to decide. (GREAT seeing you last weekend btw!)
    Dawn @ The Momma Knows recently posted..Taking Care of MommaMy Profile

    • Kris Bales says

      For one summer or several combined? If it were just one summer, I’d give 1/2 a credit. If he’s done it for several summers, over the course of his high school years, I’d do a full credit. That’s what I did with Brianna’s volleyball. She played for 3 years, but I counted it toward her one credit of PE because they practiced twice a week. Hope that helps!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge