Graduation requirements

Students have a lot of flexibility in planning their path to graduation. Students will meet with their counselors to determine their own Personal Graduation Plan (PGP).

To graduate, all students must complete:

  • at least 22 credits (required by the Foundation High School Program)
  • earn four endorsement credits
  • pass the End-of-Course exams in Algebra I, Biology, English I & II, and U.S. History
  • complete a post-secondary financial aid application

This is considered the Foundation High School Program Plus Endorsement graduation plan. 

To be considered for the top ten percent and automatic admission to Texas public universities, a student must earn a Distinguished Level of Achievement diploma.

Graduation requirements chart

View credit requirements for the Foundation Plan graduation program.

4x4 Graduation Plan

Some students that entered high school prior to 2014-2015 school year may still be following the 4x4 graduation requirements.

PDF icon 4x4 graduation requirements chart

Required credits

Students must earn the following credits in order to meet the requirements of the Foundation High School Program Plus Endorsement graduation plan:

English Language Arts

4 credits including:

  • English I
  • English II
  • English III
  • advanced English credit

4 credits including:

  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Two advanced math credits

4 credits including:

  • Biology
  • Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) or an advanced science credit
  • Two advanced science credits
Languages Other Than English


  • 2 credits in the same language
  • 2 Computer Science credits
Fine Arts

1 credit

Physical Education

1 credit


.5 credit

Elective credits

6.5 credits including 4 endorsement credits

Financial aid application

To complete a post-secondary financial aid application, students must:

  • complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • complete and submit a Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA)
  • submit a signed opt-out form (arrange a conference with your child's school counselor for more information)

School Counselors are available to help with the FAFSA and TASFA process. Please check high school websites for dates of Financial Aid events throughout the month of October at each location. 

Note: More information on the financial aid requirement can be found on the Texas Education Agency website.

Application dates

  • Applications open: October 1, 2021
  • Priority deadline: January 15, 2022


An endorsement is like a career path or area of focus. Students earn an endorsement by completing a clear sequence of courses in one of the five endorsement areas. 

8th grade students select an endorsement in the spring when they meet with their counselor to create a Personal Graduation Plan (PGP) for high school. Students may choose more than one endorsement or change their initial endorsement at a later time. Students should speak with their counselor for more information.

Students must earn at least one endorsement unless otherwise determined by a parent conference after the sophomore year.

Many endorsement course sequences may be satisfied by courses in Career and Technical Education (CTE) career clusters. Course offerings in each endorsement will vary by campus.

Endorsement options


Includes courses directly related to: science (including environmental science), technology (including computer science), engineering and advanced mathematics.

Related CTE career cluster:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)
Business and Industry

Includes courses directly related to database management, Information technology, communications, accounting, finance, marketing, graphic design, architecture, construction, welding, logistics, automotive technology, agricultural science, and HVAC.

Related CTE career clusters:

  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Business Management and Administration
  • Finance
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
Public Services

Includes courses directly related to: education and training, government and public administration, human services, law, public safety, corrections and securities.

Related CTE career clusters:

  • Education & Training
  • Government & Public Administration
  • Health Sciences
  • Human Services
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
Arts & Humanities

Includes courses related to political science, world languages, cultural studies, English literature, history, and fine arts (Art, Dance, Music, Theatre.)

Multidisciplinary Studies

Allows students to select courses from the curriculum of each endorsement area and earn credits in a variety of advanced courses from multiple content areas sufficient to complete the distinguished level of achievement.

Distinguished Level of Achievement

To earn the Distinguished Level of Achievement students must:

  • meet the requirements of the Foundation High School Program Plus Endorsement graduation plan
  • take Algebra II as one of the required advanced math credits

Completing the Distinguished Level of Achievement program helps students:

  • compete for Top 10% automatic admissions eligibility at any Texas public university
  • prepare for college-level coursework
  • qualify for financial aid options
  • have the foundation to successfully complete an industry workforce credential
  • ensure they are a more competitive applicant at the most selective colleges and universities

Performance Acknowledgements

A performance acknowledgement is recognition on the diploma and transcript for activities and success above the standard requirements.

Students can earn a performance acknowledgement for outstanding performance in these areas:

  • dual credit courses
  • bilingualism and biliteracy
  • college AP tests or IB exams
  • the PSAT, ACT-Plan, SAT, or ACT

Students may also receive a performance acknowledgement for earning a nationally or internationally recognized business or industry certification or license.

21st Century Scholars

Students receive an academic medal and special designation on their diploma for becoming a 21st Century Scholar. Each campus also recognizes 21st Century Scholars at an awards assembly. To become a 21st Century Scholar students must:

  • complete the at least the Recommended 4x4 graduation plan or the Foundation High School Program Plus Endorsement graduation plan
  • complete either one full credit of the 3rd year (level three) of a language other than English OR one full credit of an advanced course (Advanced Placement, Dual Credit, or International Baccalaureate) not already required.

The 21st Century Scholars program recognizes students who are committed to completing a challenging curriculum plan. These students know that they will be gaining a high level of skills and will be better prepared to enter the job market or begin college.

Alternative graduation option

Do you have all your high school credits from GISD but no diploma due to TAKS or TAAS testing?

If you entered 9th-grade prior to 2011-12 school year, you may be eligible to graduate due to a change in state law.

If you attended a Garland ISD high school and feel this applies to you, please contact the Research, Assessment & Accountability Department.  We will be happy to help find out if you are eligible.