Graduation Requirements

High School Program Planning

The Shawnee Mission School District offers a comprehensive Program Planning Guide for students in grades nine through twelve. It is designed to give you the information that will help you and your parents to make appropriate selections as you plan a course of study from the wide variety of offerings found in the Shawnee Mission School District. Each course is described, and specific prerequisites are listed so that you will know whether or not you qualify to take a given subject.

All courses listed in this guide are “enrollment based,” which means that they will be scheduled if there is sufficient enrollment to provide staffing for the course. In addition, some courses are offered on a rotating basis. Not all courses are available at every high school. Check with your school counselor if you have questions.

It is important that these decisions be made carefully with personal objectives and future goals in mind. Your teachers and counselors are available to help you in this process. In addition to describing the courses offered, the guide provides information about graduation requirements, grades, credit, eligibility requirements, and recommended college and career preparatory programs.

Units of Credit

A unit of credit represents the equivalent of a year’s work with a passing grade. A full-year course receives one unit of credit per period. A semester course receives a half unit of credit per period. Select courses offered at Horizons, the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA) and Career and Technical Campus (CTC) may earn one unit of credit per semester based on a double-block class time schedule.


Classification of Students

Students will advance forward in grade level based on the number of years they have been in high school. Beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, students will no longer be required to meet a minimum credit threshold to advance to the next grade level. However, students must meet all graduation requirements in order to graduate. The following chart should be used as a guide to evaluate whether a student is on track for graduation.


 GRADE LEVEL            


End of Grade 9          

5.5 credits

End of Grade 10        

11.5 credits

End of Grade 11        

16.5 credits

 End of Grade 12

23.5 credits



District Graduation Requirements

In Shawnee Mission School District, 23.5 units of credit in grades 9-12 will be required. Please see Board Policy IHF for details.

The high school graduation requirements are designed to be completed in eight semesters. A candidate for graduation from this school district must have been in attendance in the district during the last semester of his or her senior year. While it is possible to meet graduation requirements in less than eight semesters, early graduation is not the intent of the district. It is strongly recommended that all students attend the full eight semesters.

Listed below are the minimum credit requirements to earn a diploma from the Shawnee Mission School District. 

Consult the SMSD Program Planning Guide for complete information.

The Shawnee Mission School District as well as the Kansas Board of Regents strongly recommend that to be well-prepared for the academic rigors of post-secondary education students should take additional classes beyond the minimum requirements, particularly in the areas of math and science. 

English (4 units)
Social Studies (3 units)
  • World Regional Studies (9th grade)
  • Social Studies elective (.5 unit) (taken anytime during grades 10-12)
  • United States History (11th grade)
  • American Government (.5 unit) (12th grade)
Math (3 units)
  • College admissions requirements often require a fourth year of math and/or specific math courses for admissions. Check admissions websites of college and universities for details.
Science (3 units)
  • Biology
  • Physical Science (Physical Science, Chemistry or Physics) 
  • Science elective
Physical Education (1 unit)
  • Students may take any two PE classes to fulfill the 1.0 credit requirement. They repeat any class except the online (virtual) Fitness for Life class, which may be taken only once. 
  • Foundations of PE is no longer a required course, but students may still take it and it will count as one-half credit toward the PE requirement.
Health (.5 unit)
Financial Literacy (.5 unit)
  • May be taken in grades 10-12
Fine Arts (1 unit)
  • See list of approved courses in the Program of Studies
Electives (7.5 units)


Total Units Required:  23.5

Early planning by each student toward a Four-Year Individual Plan of Study is very important. In planning what courses to take, the student must be continually aware of the need to fulfill the requirements for graduation. Students are also encouraged to investigate, with their coun-selors and/or parents, the requirements of the specific college or university they may wish to enter, taking that information into consideration in designing their Four-Year Individual Plan of Study. Counselors are a vital resource in this planning process. Counselors can provide an important service in helping students evaluate their interests, abilities, and goals.  They assist students in planning a program of selected courses that will best contribute to the fulfillment of their college and career goals.   Each student with the aid of the family and counselor will build their own individual plan of study.  Plans include interest inventories, surveys to identify college and career interests, a resume, and a four-year plan for each student’s course of study.  Students update these plans periodically, and we encourage parents and students to reference this information during the enrollment planning process.