The Complete List of High School Classes – 2023 Edition
July 6, 2023
While we often think of course planning as something college students do, it’s equally important for high school students to be thoughtful about plotting their course load. Maybe you are hoping to squeeze in a fun elective. Or perhaps you are trying to determine what courses a prospective college requires. Regardless of your exact circumstances, it’s critical to know what options are available to you as a high school student. Fortunately, we’ve done some of the hard work for you. Below, we have collected a complete list of high school classes offered in the United States. Our list includes AP classes, high school science classes, math classes in high school, high school science classes, and much more. Whether you’re a rising high school student or on the verge of your senior year, this post will outline everything you need to know about high school course offerings.
What high school classes should I take?
If you’re reading this post, you probably have a central question in mind: what high school classes should I take? The answer to this question will depend on your specific circumstances, though there are a few core variables to consider.
College Course Requirements
If you are planning to attend a four-year college or university, that will play a major role in your high school course selection. Most colleges want to see applicants that are well-rounded. This means students who have taken a healthy mix of math, science, English, and history classes, as well as foreign languages and electives. Fortunately, most high schools in the United States account for this in their curricula. However, it’s worthwhile for students to investigate course requirements at their prospective colleges to assist with their planning.
While it’s important that students anticipate requirements at prospective colleges, that doesn’t mean they should discount their own interests. After all, high school classes should help students explore topics in anticipation of their future education and career. For that reason, students should consider their interests, prospective major(s), and career goals when planning their high school courses. For example, a student who wants to be a software developer might take extra math and high school science classes. In contrast, a student who wishes to study journalism should load up on English and composition classes. They might even consider taking extra high school history courses and civics classes to gain the background knowledge that many journalists rely upon.
If you’re not sure what your future holds, that’s okay too! Explore a broad variety of classes to start zeroing in on your interests and ensure your transcript is well-rounded. By weighing your interests and goals, you can enroll in high school classes that will help you develop crucial skills for your academic and professional career.
Finally, students should consider the rigor of their high school classes. Fundamentally, rigor is necessary to ensure you are challenging yourself. If you aren’t pushing yourself, you probably aren’t learning. However, rigor is also an important variable in college admissions. Admissions officers will evaluate your academic performance and transcript in light of the rigor of your classes. For this reason, it’s important to enroll in honors and AP-level courses where possible and appropriate.
Altogether, being thoughtful in your course selection can ensure you end up in classes that support your goals, align with your interests, and enable you to discover new skills, talents, and knowledge.
What should I do if my high school doesn’t offer many honors or AP courses?
Depending on your high school’s size, location, and resources, you may have numerous honors and AP courses to choose from. However, some students’ choices may be more limited. If you fall into this latter category, don’t panic. The rigor of your high school classes is important, but it’s also relative. Colleges understand that students have access to different resources and opportunities. That is why they will evaluate your transcript based on the opportunities available to you. How do they know what courses you had to choose from? Your high school’s college counselor tells them! Before you submit an application, your counselor will write a school profile, which contextualizes what courses are available at your school, among other topics. While it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities available at your school, don’t worry about what’s beyond your control. These differences will be accounted for during the college admissions process.
Also, keep in mind that you may not only be limited to the classes at your high school. Many students take dual enrollment courses through community colleges to earn college credit and engage in more rigorous coursework. If you are worried about the rigor of your high school classes, dual enrollment can be a great way to bolster your transcript and gain valuable experience in college-level courses.
Complete List of High School Classes
Below, we have compiled a list of high school courses based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Classes are alphabetized by subject. To avoid complicating this list, we have elected not to distinguish between honors and non-honors courses, though we do delineate between standard high school classes and AP courses.
This list can serve as a starting point for your course planning before you dive into your school’s course catalog. Keep in mind that it would be virtually impossible for a school to offer every course listed here. However, if you see a class you’re interested in that is unavailable at your school, you still have options. Check-in with your teachers or school counselor to see if you can conduct an independent study. If not, research dual enrollment programs at local community colleges to see if you can take classes there. Worst case scenario, keep those subjects in mind for your college course planning, as they may be available once you enroll at a four-year university.
High School Business Classes
Through business classes, students learn basic principles of economics and finance, engaging with topics such as organizational studies and marketing. Prospective business majors and entrepreneurs will likely find these classes rewarding. However, they are also a great fit for students who are undecided, as they can act as an entry point to a variety of careers within business, marketing, communications, finance, human resources, and law.
- Banking and Finance
- Business Law
- Business Management
- Consumer Education
- Introduction to Business
- Personal Finance
High School Computer Science and Information Technology Classes
You might assume that computer science and IT courses are only for STEM-oriented students. However, in this day and age, everyone needs to have a basic understanding of technology. Taking these classes will provide you with technical skills, as well as a broad understanding of how various technologies operate.
- App Development
- Audio Production
- Computer Programming
- Computer Repair
- Data Processing
- Film Production
- Graphic Design
- Information Sciences and Systems
- Media Technology
- Music Production
- Video Game Development
- Web Design
- Web Programming
- Word Processing
High School English and Language Arts Classes
Regardless of your interests, English is likely to form the backbone of your college and high school education. All students need to develop skills in writing and communication, as well as reading comprehension, research, and critical thinking. Even if your educational interests don’t include examining the works of Herman Melville, taking English classes will ensure you have the skills you need to understand complex ideas, vet information, and communicate effectively—competencies every adult needs!
- American Literature
- British Literature
- Contemporary Literature
- Creative Writing
- English Language and Composition
- English Literature and Composition
- Journalism and Mass Communications
- Literary Analysis
- Modern Literature
- Popular Literature
- Speech and Debate
- Technical and Business Writing
- Works of Shakespeare
- World Literature
- Written and Oral Communication
High School Family and Consumer Science Classes
While it’s important that students take a diverse array of classes, those within family and consumer science arguably teach the skills students will use most on a day-to-day basis. From personal finance to food preparation, family and consumer science classes equip students with the skills necessary for independent living.
- Chemistry of Foods and Food Sciences
- CPR Training
- Culinary Arts
- Early Childhood Development
- Early Childhood Education
- Fashion and Retail Merchandising
- Fashion Construction
- Home Economics
- Individual and Family Development
- Interior Design
High School Foreign Language Classes
Foreign language classes are a requirement in most high school and college curricula and for good reason! Learning a language broadens your worldview, helping you understand the history, culture, and customs of another region of the world. These classes also challenge students to move beyond their comfort zone by developing a new skill, a quality that many colleges look for in applicants.
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- Ancient Greek
High School Math Classes
Having a basic knowledge of math is critical. After all, at some point, you’ll need to file taxes and assemble a household budget. However, math classes in high school will also help you develop your ability to interpret complex information and think logically. Moreover, math classes are a core requirement for many colleges, especially for students planning to pursue a career in STEM.
- Algebra 1
- Algebra 2
- Computer Math
- Consumer Math
- Fundamentals of Math
- Integrated Math
- Math Applications
- Multivariable Calculus
- Practical Math
- Quantitative Literacy
High School Performing Arts Classes
Classes within the performing arts enable students to develop knowledge of and appreciation for a variety of artistic media. Aside from this technical knowledge, these high school classes also help students develop their confidence and their ability to collaborate.
- Concert Band
- Jazz Band
- Marching Band
- Music Theory
- Theater Technology
- World Music
High School Physical Education Classes
Perhaps the most polarizing entry on this list, physical education classes are often students’ most or least favorite. They are, however, important, as they help students develop knowledge, habits, and skills that will help them live healthy lives.
- Lifeguard Training
- Racket Sports
- Specialized Sports
- Weight Training
High School Science Classes
High School science courses are an important part of any education, as they help students learn to think analytically and conduct unbiased experiments. These classes also allow students to gather knowledge about the physical world, biological processes, and physics, among other topics.
- Animal Sciences
- Earth Science
- Electronics and Robotics
- Environmental Science
High School Science Classes (Continued)
- Environmental Studies
- Forensic Science
- Marine Biology
- Physical Science
High School Social Studies Classes
Social studies and high school history classes are another core component of most high school curricula. Aside from learning about historical figures and movements, these classes help students better understand local, national, and global events, as well as the cultures that shaped them.
- Civics and Economics
- Cultural Anthropology
- Current Events
- European History
- Global Studies
- Human Geography
- International Relations
- Modern World Studies
High School History Classes (Continued)
- Physical Anthropology
- Political Studies
- Religious Studies
- US Government
- US History
- Women’s Studies
- World History
- World Politics
- World Religions
High School Visual Arts Classes
Aside from being a creative outlet, art classes help students develop analytical thinking skills, as they learn to recognize patterns and explore new modes of expression. Having a basic knowledge of visual art also provides them with information that will be useful in college and beyond.
- 3-D Art
- Art History
- Digital Media
- Film Production
- Jewelry Design
High School Vocational Education Classes
Vocational education courses help students learn trades, such as mechanics, construction, plumbing, or cosmetology. These high school classes are a great fit for students considering attending a community college or trade school. They can also be a good way for students who are bound for a four-year university to learn valuable skills and explore new hobbies.
- Auto Body Repair
- Auto Mechanics
- Building Construction
- Computer-Aided Drafting
- Criminal Justice
- Driver Education
- Future Farmers of America (FFA)
- Fire Science
- Heating and Cooling Systems
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC)
- Production Technology
- Refrigeration Fundamentals
AP Classes in High School
Advanced Placement (AP) courses provide students with an opportunity to take more rigorous courses and earn college credits. AP courses are available through College Board, though each high school will decide what classes they will offer to students. Those courses are alphabetized by subject below:
AP Capstone Diploma Program
- AP Research
- AP Seminar
AP Art Classes
- AP Art History
- AP Music Theory
AP English Classes
- AP English Language and Composition
- AP English Literature and Composition
AP History and Social Science Classes
● AP Comparative Government and Politics
- AP European History
- AP Human Geography
- AP Macroeconomics
- AP Microeconomics
- AP Psychology
- AP United States Government and Politics
- AP United States History
- AP World History: Modern
AP Math & Computer Science Classes
- AP Calculus AB
- AP Calculus BC
- AP Computer Science A
- AP Computer Science Principles
- AP Precalculus
- AP Statistics
AP High School Science Classes
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- AP Environmental Science
- AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based
- AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based
- AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
- AP Physics C: Mechanics
AP World Language and Culture Classes
- AP Chinese Language and Culture
- AP French Language and Culture
- AP German Language and Culture
- AP Italian Language and Culture
- AP Japanese Language and Culture
- AP Latin
- AP Spanish Language and Culture
- AP Spanish Literature and Culture
Now that you’ve perused the various high school classes that exist, it’s time to figure out your next steps. If you are an underclassman, you have the luxury of time. Research colleges and their requirements, and talk with your school’s counselor to determine what classes best align with your goals. If you’re an upperclassman, analyze your transcript and identify gaps you can fill to round out your high school career.
Regardless of your exact circumstances, your high school classes are an opportunity to explore new subjects, discover your strengths, and define your goals. While it’s important to be strategic in selecting your classes, don’t forget that education is about exploration. Balance your sense of strategy with a willingness to try new things and challenge yourself so you have ample opportunity to learn and grow.
Got more questions about high school course planning? Check out the resources below:
- How Many AP Courses Should I Take?
- Honors vs. AP Classes: What’s the Difference?
- IB vs. AP: Which Classes Are Best for College Admissions in 2022-2023?
- The Best High School Math Classes to Take