How Many Subjects are There In American High School?

As you, or your child, prepares for life in an American high school, you may not be thinking about the actual number of subjects that lie in wait. For the most part, you are content with making the transition from middle to high school.

Alternatively, your mind may be on the friendships you are about to make. Additionally, you may probably be considering the fees that you have to pay. Nevertheless, the number of subjects is equally important to help you plan for the future well.

Students spend four years in American high schools. Academic performance will and should be the student’s primary focus for the next four years. Otherwise, it would be difficult to graduate high school and proceed to college if the performance is not of the required standard.

The key to doing well in high school is all about preparation. All students who prepare adequately and put in proper effort are bound to excel in their academics. Preparation starts by looking at and familiarizing oneself with the recommended number of subjects.

All the subjects that high school students take in America fall into the following four categories:


Science is a mandatory subject in American high schools. However, it is worth noting that students don’t study science as a general subject. Instead, they study physics, chemistry, and biology.


Mathematics is yet another mandatory subject in American high schools. If you are preparing to enter high school, then you must also be ready to study mathematics. More specifically, you will study the following subjects:

  1. Statistics
  2. Algebra
  3. Geometry
  4. Calculus


When talking of mandatory subjects for students in American high schools, one can’t forget mentioning English. Therefore, be ready to study all aspects of English to help you be a better communicator. This subject will also help you to understand instructions. Under it, you’ll study:

  1. Oral languages
  2. Humanities
  3. Literature
  4. Composition

Social Studies

Social studies are also important for high school students in the United States. The subject helps to keep them up to date with all that is happening around them. That said, what they would study under social studies is:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Economics

Physical Education

It is also crucial for the students to study physical education (P.E.). Many schools run unique sports programs. Those who study P.E. could win scholarship to college in case they excel in academics too. In some schools, one wouldn’t graduate without taking at least one P.E. class.

However, the actual number of subjects you end up taking depends on several factors. For example, it is all up to the state your school is in to determine what they consider important to learn, in addition to the mandatory subjects. For this reason, you may also have to study:

  1. Health courses
  2. First aid
  3. Nutrition
  4. Sexuality
  5. Drug awareness
  6. Art
  7. Foreign language

A student who joins high school is usually between 14 and 18 years. In the United States, such students are considered capable of determining the direction they want to take in life. For this reason, the curriculum helps them to choose other optional subjects they wish to take.

After all, it is worth mentioning that high school isn’t only about studying the core or mandatory subjects. Other subjects help you to achieve your life goals too, especially if you really want to proceed to college to pursue further education.

The non-mandatory or elective subjects are critical for the following reasons:

  • They help you to explore your interests further
  • They help to reduce your demanding class schedule
  • They allow you to study something that you truly love
  • They offer you a chance to try something that’s completely new

Therefore, familiarize yourself with all the subjects that your high school will expect you to study. Consider the kind of professional career you would love to pursue after college too when selecting the non-mandatory subjects as well.