Not so long ago, an Alabama high school diploma was a high school diploma. Everybody got the same type whether they took college prep courses or standard classes. Today, however, there are different types of diplomas that distinguish between students who graduate after having taken different types of classes. Twenty-four credits are required to graduate, with some local school systems requiring more for the advanced academic endorsement.

Standard Diploma

The minimum requirements for a standard high school diploma are four credits in each of English, mathematics, science and social studies. One credit of physical education is required with 0.5 credits in each of health, arts and computer applications. A minimum of 5.5 credits of various electives is also required. If the student has established proficiency with the computer, the computer application credit may be waived and added back to the required electives. In addition to the credit requirements, each student must pass all five graduation exams, which include social studies, math, science, reading and language. Beginning with graduates for the 2013 school year, one online class is required.

Advanced Diploma

To qualify for the diploma with advanced academic endorsement, two credits of electives must be in a foreign language category, one in chemistry or physics, and one in algebra II to include trigonometry. Some schools, such as Hoover, require two additional credits in addition to Alabama’s minimal requirements to graduate with the advanced endorsement. The advanced diploma leaves the student better equipped to enter college than the standard diploma.

Career/Tech Diploma

A diploma with the career and technical endorsement requires all courses for the standard diploma, but electives must include three technical and career courses. Depending on the school, technical and career courses may include such classes as collision repair, health care science, landscape management and welding. The purpose of this diploma is to train the student to enter the workforce immediately after high school.

Advanced Career/Tech Diploma

The difference between the career technical endorsement and the advanced diploma with career and technical endorsement is that the student must take algebra II with trigonometry in addition to his three technical and career course choices. This diploma choice may better prepare the tech student for college in the event he changes his mind about attending college after graduation.