Honors Diplomas

New Honors Diploma Requirements

The Ohio Department of Education, in consultation with a group of stakeholders and the State Board of Education, has updated the requirements for honors diplomas beginning with the class of 2026. This group of stakeholders met in 2022 to update the requirements for all six honors diplomas. Stakeholders included school counselors, teachers, school administrators, students, and parents. Students who entered high school on or after July 1, 2022 will be required to meet the new honors diploma requirements. Beginning with any student in the class of 2023, and including students in the class of 2024 and 2025, students may use these new options, but may also use the previous requirements to earn an honors diploma.

What are Honors Diplomas?

High school students can gain state recognition for exceeding Ohio’s graduation requirements through an honors diploma. To meet honors diploma requirements, students challenge themselves by taking and succeeding at high-level coursework and in real-world experiences.

Ohio students have the opportunity to choose to pursue one of six honors diplomas:

  1. Academic Honors Diploma
  2. International Baccalaureate Honors Diploma
  3. Career Tech Honors Diploma
  4. STEM Honors Diploma
  5. Arts Honors Diploma*
  6. Social Science and Civic Engagement Honors Diploma 

*includes dance, drama/theatre, music and visual art.

What is new for students in the class of 2026 and beyond?

For each honors diploma, the goal of the stakeholders was to better align the new honors diplomas to the new high school graduation requirements. As such, changes will be found to better align to key concepts of customization and ability for students to reflect their strengths.

  • Equal number of requirements for each honors diploma​
  • Addition of state and local seals that align to specific honors diplomas​
  • Additional requirements listed for courses beyond standard graduation requirements ​
  • Addition of “Student Strength Replacement” option for all honors diplomas
  • Addition of “Experiential Learning” option for all honors diplomas

Chartered Nonpublic Schools 

Students attending Chartered Nonpublic schools that offer either the IOWA, Terra Nova or ACT/SAT as their assessments may not be required to earn diploma seals as a part of their graduation requirements. These schools can still use the seal options as a part of earning their Honors Diploma. Students should review the requirements for each specific state-defined seal and can meet any requirements that are available to them. They do not need to be awarded the seal as a part of earning the honors diploma, they would only need to meet the requirements of the seal.  

For example, for the Science or Citizenship seal, students can use each requirement listed for the specific seal, excluding the option of proficient score on the American History, American Government and Biology end-of-course assessments. They would still be able to use the Course Grade, College Credit Plus, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate options to earn the Science or Citizenship seals.  

Previous honors diploma requirements

Students in the class of 2023, 2024 and 2025 still have access to the previous requirements revised criteria to earn an honors diploma.

Communication to Students, Parents and JVSDs

Districts must communicate to parents and students about the option to earn an honors diploma and the criteria required for students to earn each one of the six honors diplomas. School districts cannot require students to apply for or declare their intent to earn an honors diploma.

Districts must also involve Joint Vocational School Districts (JVSDs) in the development of policies, guidelines and procedures for the honors diploma rule. At least annually, JVSDs also must update districts on the status of students enrolled at their schools with respect to the honors diplomas.

Effect on District Report Cards

The Prepared for Success component looks at how well districts are equipping Ohio’s students to take advantage of future opportunities. A district earns one point on the measure for every student who earns any of the following: an honors diploma, college entrance exam remediation-free scores, or 12 points through an industry-recognized credential or group of credentials. 

Issuing Honors Diplomas

The Ohio Department of Education does not provide materials for districts to recognize students who have attained an honors diploma. Local school district boards of education shall determine how to issue these students’ honors diplomas. The honors diploma shall bear the date of its issue and contain the signatures of the president and treasurer of the district board of education, the superintendent of schools and the principal of the high school.

Last Modified: 5/24/2024 2:21:27 PM