The Penn Foster High School program consists of 16.5 core credits and 5 elective credits for a total of 21.5 credits. The core curriculum consists of 4 English credits, 3 math credits, 3 social studies credits, 3 science credits, 2.5 arts and humanities credits, and 1 health and physical education credit. Only need a few credits? We even offer individual courses to help you with your unique needs.
At the start of most of your core courses, we offer a quick video to introduce the course and the material you will be learning. Here is a preview of the welcome videos for Basic English and Math:
Program Goal and Outcomes
Students will be able to demonstrate they possess the necessary knowledge and skills to enter the workforce or to continue their education at a college.
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate 21st century skills such as the ability to use technology to complete learning tasks and to communicate effectively
- Use critical thinking and reasoning skills to complete learning tasks in English Language Art courses
- Use declarative knowledge and demonstrate understanding to complete learning tasks in English Language Arts courses
- Use critical thinking and reasoning skills to complete learning tasks in science courses
- Use declarative knowledge and demonstrate understanding to complete learning tasks in science courses
- Use critical thinking and reasoning skills to complete learning tasks in math courses
- Use declarative knowledge and demonstrate understanding to complete learning tasks in math courses
- Use critical thinking and reasoning skills to complete learning tasks in social studies courses
- Use declarative knowledge and demonstrate understanding to complete learning tasks in social studies courses
- Apply fundamental mathematical skills to solve real world problems
- Utilize writing skills to complete graded writing assessments
- Demonstrate an ability to complete introductory level college courses
Orientation .5 credit
In this course you’ll develop the necessary skills to ensure your success in the program. This course also teaches you how to stay successful, ensuring you complete your studies and start preparing for a successful career.
- Understand how to use your Student Portal.
- Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
- Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
- Examine methods that will allow you to obtain greater financial independence
- Describe how to build stronger personal and professional relationships
- Identify career options and career resources
- Effectively use a computer and critical computer programs
Human Relations 1 credit
This course will enhance your interpersonal skills and lead to success in your future career or post-secondary schooling.
- Describe how to build and maintain positive relationships.
- Explain how a positive attitude affects human relations.
- Discuss how to work with supervisors.
- Explain the productivity equation.
- Describe the relationship between frustration and aggression.
- Describe how to avoid being late or absent.
- Discuss how to identify and repair injured relationships.
Reading Skills 1 credit
This course will improve your reading skills so you can interpret and thoroughly understand the written word.
- Scan written passages to locate information.
- Use context clues to determine the meanings of words.
- Correctly use words that have multiple meanings.
- Identify the topic and supporting details in a paragraph.
- Identify and explain the various ways in which paragraphs are organized: with examples, with explanations, by cause and effect, and in chronological order.
- Apply the following reading skills: making inferences, separating fact from opinion, detecting bias, and drawing conclusions.
- Describe how imagery is used in poetry.
- Define and identify similes and metaphors.
- Define and explain the elements of fiction: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and theme.
Basic English 1 credit
This course will help you improve your English skills so you can effectively communicate in your personal life, in the remainder of your studies, and in your career.
- Describe the four steps in the writing process.
- Define, describe, and provide examples of the different parts of speech.
- Identify the principal parts of verbs and verb tenses for both regular and irregular verbs.
- Discuss the difference between an adjective and an adverb.
- Identify prepositional phrases and the objects of prepositions.
- Explain the difference between coordinating, correlative, and subordinating conjunctions.
- Explain the main components of complete sentences.
- Identify and correct sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
- Provide agreement between subjects and verbs.
- Explain the proper use of the different parts of speech.
Practical English 1 credit
This course will enhance your language skills by expanding your vocabulary, mastering word usage, and strengthening your writing.
- Explain why language is important and describe how communication skills can affect your life.
- Explain how the eight parts of speech are organized to communicate meaning in phrases, clauses, and sentences.
- Apply your language skills in conversation, vocabulary, word choice, spelling, pronunciation, and writing.
- Use modifiers, prepositional phrases, and conjunctions correctly.
- Correctly use apostrophes, hyphens, and periods.
- Recognize and use the various elements of sentence structure.
- Correct common writing mistakes.
- Write sentences that have effective beginnings, concise wording, parallel structure, and active voice.
- Create a unified, coherent composition with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Write effective, appropriate, business letters, friendly letters, courtesy letters, formal invitations, a letter of application for a job, and a resume with a cover letter.
Written Communication 1 credit
This course will refresh your understanding of the basic parts of speech and will focus on the importance of organizing your time effectively to create a document from the first draft stage to the final draft stage.
- Recognize and use both formal and informal English for letter writing.
- Begin to write an essay.
- Organize your writing time effectively.
- Plan a writing project from beginning to end.
- Locate books using the card catalog and on-line catalog at the library.
- Use your own experience, that of others, and library research to provide material for writing projects.
- Organize your ideas effectively in an outline.
- Write your ideas in detail, following a logical order and sticking to your subject.
- Express your thoughts and feelings more easily, more accurately.
Literature 1 credit
This course will allow you to experience literature actively and become involved both intellectually and emotionally.
- Read more effectively—for both knowledge and enjoyment.
- Use new vocabulary to discuss, write about, and understand literature.
- Explain the characteristics of the different genres, including the short story, novel, poetry, drama, nonfiction, and essay.
- Discuss works by writers such as Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, London, Twain, and Thoreau.
- Analyze novels, short stories, poems, dramas, and other types of writing.
- Understand and explain the objectives and accomplishments of the various writers.
- Seek, find, and enjoy many additional examples of fine writing.
- Identify various literary figures.
Additional Course Material:
- Great American Short Stories
- The Call of the Wild
- Great Short Poems
- Songs for the Open Road: Poems of Travel & Adventure
- Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
- Great Speeches by Native Americans
- Narrative of Sojourner Truth
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
General Math 1 1 credit
This course will provide a solid foundation so you are able to successfully use mathematics in your course, life, and career.
- Name the four mathematical operations that can be done with whole numbers.
- Solve word problems involving a combination of mathematical operations.
- Convert fractions and mixed numbers successfully.
- Find the least common denominator of unlike fractions.
- Perform mathematical operations with fractions, mixed numbers, decimals, and percents.
- Define various mathematical terms such as decimal, mixed decimal, repeating decimal, and circulating decimal, proportion, and percent.
- Identify the units of measurement used in both the English and metric systems.
- Measure length, liquid and dry volume, capacity, and weight in the English and metric systems.
- Convert one type of measurement to another.
Consumer Math 1 credit
This course will allow you to apply your math knowledge to areas of your everyday life.
- Estimate results quickly.
- Accurately figure the amount of money involved when discounts are stated in percents.
- Make smart consumer decisions.
- Calculate yearly interest rates.
- Understand the importance of a budget and how to prepare one.
- List the factors to consider before buying a new or used car.
- Discuss the options available regarding your personal insurance.
- Determine when you’ve saved enough money to start investing.
- Explain the difference between common stock and preferred stock.
- Explain why it’s important for you to plan for your retirement.
General Math 2 1 credit
This course will review the four mathematical operations so you are able to use them at an advanced level.
- Use the rules of the order of operations to solve multistep problems.
- Solve word problems using equations.
- Use the four basic operations with positive and negative numbers.
- Give examples of monomials and polynomials.
- Simplify polynomials by combining like monomials.
- Simplify and solve one-step and multistep equations.
- Identify and name various components of geometry.
- Identify different types of quadrilaterals and triangles.
- Calculate the area of squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles using appropriate formulas.
- Apply the Pythagorean theorem to find the length of a missing side in a right triangle.
- Compute the volume of cubes, cylinders, and rectangular solids using the correct formulas.
- Solve equations using the principles of geometry.
Earth Science 1 credit
This course covers a large number of topics that are concentrated into four main areas of study: geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy.
- Define Earth science and explain how it relates to the sciences of geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy.
- Describe specific characteristics of Earth, such as its shape, size, and subdivisions.
- Differentiate between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
- Explain the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources.
- Define earthquake and explain how earthquakes are measured and predicted.
- Identify the various types of volcanoes and explain where they form.
- Define climate and explain the characteristics of the different climate zones.
- Explain the movement of the planets in the solar system.
Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Earth Science: Geology, the Environment, and the Universe
Biology 1 credit
In this course you’ll gain insight into the origin of life, the relationships among all living organisms, and discover how your own body works.
- Describe the characteristics of living things.
- Discuss the basic principles of genetics.
- Describe the structure and function of DNA and RNA.
- Identify the components and functions of major human organ systems.
- Explain the factors that influence population growth.
- Describe how communities are organized and how they develop.
Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Miller & Levine Biology
Physical Science 1 credit
This course covers a variety of topics in modern science that affect everyday life, from energy and heat to sound and electricity.
- Calculate velocity, acceleration, energy, and power.
- Apply the rules of light refraction, heat transmission, and Newton’s laws of motion.
- Identify properties of gases and solids.
- Explain the difference between the terms temperature and heat.
- Calculate the amount of heat energy lost or gained by a body.
- Describe how heat energy is used in internal-combustion engines, jet engines, and rockets.
- Determine amplitude, frequency, period, and velocity of sound waves.
- Compare the sounds produced by various musical Instruments.
- Analyze formulas of elements and compounds.
- Balance chemical formulas.
- Calculate molecular mass.
- Explain colors as the effect of wave characterization of light.
- Explain the effects of static electricity, light reflection, and magnetic fields.
- Recognize characteristics of insulators and conductors.
- Analyze a basic electric circuit.
American History 1 credit
This course covers all aspects of American History from the 18th century to the present day.
- Describe and discuss social and political influences that led to popular revolt and the onset of the American Revolution.
- Describe the era of American westward expansion.
- Outline key events of the Civil War and discuss its long-term effects on American society.
- Describe and discuss the rise of industrialism and the increase in American urbanization after the Civil War.
- Describe the Progressive Era of the early twentieth century.
- Discuss America’s role in World War I.
- Explain the nature and likely causes of the global Great Depression and describe Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s efforts to address the Depression through the New Deal.
- Describe the turbulent period of the Cold War, including the Korean War, the civil rights movement, assassinations of prominent political figures, and the divisions related to the Vietnam War.
Additional Course Material:
Textbook: United States History
Civics 1 credit
This course covers what the basic purposes of government are and how modern governments differ from one another.
- Describe the different types of government and give examples of each.
- Summarize the process used to ratify the Constitution.
- Describe the three main parts of the Constitution and explain what each part includes.
- Describe the process for amending the Constitution.
- Describe the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of the federal government.
- Outline the process by which laws are made.
- Summarize some of the landmark cases handled by the Supreme Court.
- Briefly describe the ways in which state and local governments operate.
- Explain the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democratic nation.
- Summarize the process for electing a president of the United States.
World Geography 1 credit
This course details the essentials of geography. Topics include the physical, human, and economic geography of Europe, Russia, and neighboring regions; East Asia and Southeast Asia; South Asia, Northern Africa, and Southwest Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, Oceania, and Antarctica; and Latin America and North America.
- Explain basic terms used in the study of global geography and describe the differences between physical geography and human geography and the nature of geographic regions.
- Discuss basic concerns of geographers, such as climate and environment, cultural influences, and population demographics.
- Use maps as basic tools for the study of geography.
- Discuss the national, ethnic, and linguistic regions of Europe and outline European material and cultural influences around the globe.
- Discuss the physical and human geographic features of Russia as it exists today in relationship to the wide variety of ethnic regions and nations that were part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics prior to 1991.
- Describe the physical and human geography of East Asia, including Mongolia, China, North and South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
- Describe the physical and human geography of Southeast Asia, taking into account the extent to which ethnic and cultural differences differ across the continental and island regions of this part of the globe.
- Discuss and describe the physical and human geography of Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, the Andean states extending from Venezuela to Chile, Brazil in relationship to the Amazon basin, and the southern states that include Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina.
- Discuss the physical and human geography of sub-Saharan Africa, describing, in general terms, the variety of nation states in this region that gained independence from European colonial domination following the end of World War II.
- Describe and discuss the physical and human geography of Southwestern Asia, also thought of as the Near and Middle East.
- Discuss and describe the physical and human geography of North America, distinguishing regional and cultural differences across the wide expanses of Canada and the United States.
Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Essentials of World Regional Geography
Health & Physical Education
Fitness and Nutrition 1 credit
In this course you’ll learn the key components of nutrition, cardiorespiratory exercise, safety issues, and stress management techniques.
- Explain the relationship between calories and energy.
- Explain how carbohydrates, fats, and proteins fit into a healthy eating plan.
- Select healthy ingredients and preparation methods.
- Analyze food labels, recipes, and menus for total calories, fat, protein, carbohydrate, sodium, and fiber content.
- List the advantages of cardiorespiratory fitness.
- Recognize symptoms of common injuries and identify how to prevent them.
- Explain the different types of stress and how they impact the body.
- Recognize physical and psychological symptoms of stress.
- Identify stress reduction techniques and common stressors of daily life.
- Explain how fitness benefits your physical and mental well-being.
Computer Applications 1 credit
- Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
- Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
- Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
- Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
- Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
English Composition 1 credit
- Effectively use free writing and brainstorming.
- Perfect your ability to edit and revise your writing.
- Apply techniques for getting the reader’s attention.
- Write descriptive essays, first-person narratives, reflective essays, persuasive essays, and effective thesis statements.
Business and Technical Writing 1 credit
- Organize your material logically and systematically.
- Use action verbs effectively and construct paragraphs.
- Conduct research and document sources.
Art Appreciation 1 credit
- Understand artistic media.
- Identify historical periods and artistic movements.
- Explain the roles of the artist and the viewer.
Foundation Skills in Math 1 credit
- Learn the basic math skills you’ll need to succeed in your program.
- Practice math functions using real-life examples.
- Use the metric system and formulas.
Essentials of Psychology 1 credit
- Identify major psychological theories.
- Discuss consciousness, memory, thought, and language.
- Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
- Analyze the role of gender in psychology.
- Explain how community influences behavior.
Economics 1 1 credit
- Describe the law of supply and demand.
- Discuss the cost of living and monetary systems.
- Identify international factors.
- Explain short run economic fluctuations.
You are required to take five credits in electives.
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.
To view a High School sample lesson, click here.
High School Diploma with College Electives
Our High School with Early College Courses Program will help you to get started on the path to college. Choose 5 ACE¹ evaluated college-level electives in addition to your general courses:
- Computer Applications
- English Composition
- Business and Technical Writing
- Art Appreciation
- Foundation Skills in Math
- Essentials of Psychology
- Economics 1 (Macroeconomics)
Your High School college-level electives are transferable to Penn Foster College degree programs as well.