Required and elective subjects in U.S. High Schools


Are you going to study in the United States, and you still don’t know the electives and required courses you are going to take? The country’s education system differs greatly from what you can find in Spain or any other territory, as it focuses more on the future expectations of students.

The freedom to choose subjects in high schools high school in the USA is very wide, although the selection will differ depending on the high school you attend. Depending on the state and school, some may be more specialized in the arts, technology or humanities. It won’t shape your future, but it will be a boost for college.

How does the school system work in the United States?

If you want to know the required and optional subjects in the USA, the first thing to do is to know the school system in which you are located. The United States does not have a national law, but rather each state manages, through its Department of Education, the schools, colleges and universities in its territory.

Each district, with its School Board, is responsible for establishing the standards and structure of schools in its area, including private schools, which must have a central standard.

This is why, although the required subjects are usually very similar regardless of the district you are in, the optional subjects may change depending on the school’s specialization.

Required subjects in U.S. High Schools

The required courses are very similar in any high school in the USA (and even in your home country); these are usually divided into blocks of specialization, taking the one that the district considers essential for the educational development of the students. For example:

  • Languages and literature (language study, literature, writing, debate, poetry, etc.)
  • Natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, geology, anatomy, environmental sciences, etc.)
  • Social sciences (world history, American history, politics, economics, law…)
  • Mathematics (algebra, calculus, statistics, trigonometry…)
  • Health sciences (physical education, nutrition and food, first aid, etc.)

From these areas, each educational center will establish the number of subjects that must be chosen from each module in order to acquire all the necessary credits before the end of the course.

Compulsory and elective subjects in US high schools | MAE

Electives in a US high school

On the other hand, the electives of each high school in the United States may change depending on the specialty of the school or the number of students. The more students, the greater the number of attendees for the classes. You can find:

  • Arts (theater, plastic arts, cinema, dance, choir…)
  • IT and technology (computer science, programming, web design, video game design, production…)
  • Manual specialties (carpentry, mechanics, agriculture…)
  • Other languages (French, Chinese, German…)
  • Economics and marketing (advertising, accounting and finance, school yearbook…)

And many more! As we say, everything will depend on the academic institution where you are going to study, so the simplest thing to do is to ask about the options available and seek the advice of a tutor.

What about extracurricular activities in US high schools?

One of the major attractions of studying at a U.S. high school is the wide variety of alternatives for the student to choose from to shape their future; not only do they have the required subjects or hundreds of electives, but they can join a club during their after-school hours.

Both in the sports area (swimming, soccer, soccer, baseball, baseball, swimming…), one of the best known and most important because it can give you access to a good university, as in other areas. more creative or strategic (chess club, science club, theater, band or choir, high school newspaper… And many more!)

The larger the institution and the more students that pass through its classrooms each year, the greater the variety to take a step closer to the professional future you hope for. That is why thousands of families sit down every year at your table to choose the most appropriate high school for their child’s goals.

Compulsory and elective subjects in US high schools | MAE

Would you like to know which is the best school for you and what are its subjects, both electives and compulsory? At MAE USA we advise you and inform you about your new educational system, as well as guide you through the different subjects and possibilities of the center. We are here for you!