The state of California specifies a minimum set of courses required for high school graduation that local school districts have the authority to augment with additional requirements. The California State University and the University of California have established a uniform minimum set of courses required for freshman admission. Courses required for graduation and freshman admission appear on the linked table.

Section 51225.3 states that commencing with the 1998-99 school year, all pupils receiving a diploma of graduation from high school must complete all of the following while in grades nine to twelve, inclusive:
external image PicExportError Courses in the subjects specified, each course having a duration of one year, unless otherwise specified.
external image PicExportError Three courses in English.
external image PicExportError Two courses in mathematics, including one year of Algebra I beginning in 2003-04 (California Education Code Section 51224.5).
external image PicExportError Two courses in science, including biological and physical sciences.
external image PicExportError Three courses in social studies, including United States history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; a one-semester course in American government and civics, and a one-semester course in economics.
external image PicExportError One course in visual or performing arts or foreign language. For the purposes of satisfying the requirement specified in this subparagraph, a course in American Sign Language shall be deemed a course in foreign language.
external image PicExportError Two courses in physical education, unless the pupil has been exempted pursuant to the provisions of Education Code Section 51241.
external image PicExportError Other coursework as the governing board of the school district may by rule specify.

The governing board, with the active involvement of parents, administrators, teachers, and pupils, shall adopt alternative means for pupils to complete the prescribed course of study, which may include: