Online High School Program Curriculum & Course Details | Penn Foster High School
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Online High School Curriculum

Your online high school program consists of 16.5 core credits, and you choose 5 elective credits, ranging from academic electives, like American literature and algebra to career electives, like auto repair and vet assistant. The core curriculum is made up of English, math, social science, science, arts and humanities, and health and physical education courses. And with a variety of academic and career electives to choose from, you can customize your program to take the courses that interest you most!

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

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 Arts courses
  • Use declarative knowledge and demonstrate understanding to complete learning tasks in English Language Art 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 writing assessments
  • Demonstrate the ability to complete entry level lessons from Penn Foster career modules, academic level electives, or general level electives


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


This course provides tips and techniques to make you a better reader.


  • Interpret a text by previewing and scanning
  • Identify central ideas in writing
  • Interpret works of fiction and poetry
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.


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.
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.
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.
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


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.
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.
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.


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

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

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.

Social Studies

This course focuses on US history from the earliest human settlers in North America thousands of years ago to the modern-day. You’ll learn the story of the native people who lived in this region long before Europeans came to create colonies. Follow the colonists as they faced the unknown and attempted to make new lives for themselves in North America. Finally, you’ll experience the birth and growth of the United States, a young nation that has managed to pack a wealth of world-changing events into its short history.


  • Describe settlement of the colonies in America
  • Identify events from the American Revolution to the ratification of the United States Constitution
  • Recognize expansion and industrialization in the United States during the early 18th century
  • Describe the causes and lasting effects of the American Civil War
  • Analyze how the events leading up to World War I shaped the United States
  • Discuss the effects of the Great Depression and World War II on the United States
  • Recognize changes in America from the 1960s through today
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.
When thinking about studying the entirety of world history, it’s easy to see how it appears to be a nearly impossible task. One way of making the vast amount of information manageable to learn is to present the information in a way that focuses on the highlights and large-scale trends seen in history. Your World History course begins with a very brief summary of ancient civilizations. You’ll focus most of your studies on events and peoples in world history from 1450 to the present.


  • Recognize features and achievements of ancient civilizations, and Europe during the Renaissance and Age of Exploration
  • Compare society and politics of world regions during the period of 1500-1800
  • Explain causes of revolution, impacts of industrialization on society, and factors leading to development of global empires during the period of 1750-1914
  • Describe how the Great War, Great Depression, and nationalism affected world regions
  • Describe how World War II, the Cold War, and economic globalization affected world regions

Health & Physical Education

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.
GENERAL ELECTIVES Expand All Collapse All

High School Diploma with Career Pathway

Interested in taking steps toward your career while completing your high school diploma. We have 10 career pathways for you to choose from!

Introductory Videos

All of your lessons include reading materials, videos, exercises and activities to help you build your skills. Each Penn Foster High School course includes 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.

Basic English

Watch the Basic English introductory video to see how Penn Foster English courses can help you.

General Math 1

Watch the General Math introductory video to see how Penn Foster math courses apply to your everyday life.
You are required to take five credits in electives.
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program. Computer specifications for Information Technology Pathway: You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later, Microsoft® Office 365, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.
State Restrictions
If you are interested in pursuing post-secondary education within your state you should check with your state to understand the requirements. States may impose requirements for receiving state financial aid. For example, an online High School diploma may not be recognized by some colleges and universities within your state to receive financial aid. We recommend you check with the institution for any specific restrictions - this is particularly important for residents of New York.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary. Microsoft, Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions. Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States and/or other jurisdictions.
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offer ends 6/15/17

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