Online High School Curriculum | Penn Foster High School

High School Curriculum Details

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Curriculum Details

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:

Curriculum Details

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.

Program Outcomes

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 health care 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.

Social Studies

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.


BUS090 Office Procedures


  • Understand the important aspects of good human relations.
  • Professionally answer and place telephone calls within an office.
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and email.
  • Analyze where your time is spent and identify common time wasters.
  • Calculate discounts and series discounts.
  • Calculate cash discounts and shipping charges.
  • Use a calculator to solve or check math problems.
ALH028 Law, Ethics, and Confidentiality


  • Describe civil and criminal law, sources of law, and the steps of litigation.
  • Distinguish between liability, negligence, and malpractice and explain how they relate to allied health.
  • Explain defenses against medical malpractice and against criminal charges.
  • Identify the various ethical issues that health-care professionals face.
  • Explain the uses and content of medical records.
  • Describe the legal significance of confidentiality obligations.
  • Explain the core concepts of HIPAA’s final Privacy Rule.
  • Summarize the role of peer review in confidentiality issues.
  • Describe confidentiality and security issues related to electronic medical records.
ALH016 Body Systems/Terminology 1


  • Explain how root words (and their combining forms), prefixes, and suffixes function in medical terms.
  • Define many of the most common roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
  • Determine the meaning of a given medical term by analyzing its parts.
  • Describe the organization and formation of the human body from cells to body systems.
  • Explain the anatomy and function of the integumentary system and musculoskeletal system.
  • List diseases of the integumentary and musculoskeletal systems.
  • Identify tests and procedures to diagnose and treat diseases of the integumentary and musculoskeletal systems.
  • Use combining forms to build and analyze terms related to cellular anatomy, the integumentary system, and the musculoskeletal system.
  • Explain the anatomy and function of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.
  • List diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.
  • Identify tests and procedures to diagnose and treat diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.
  • Use combining forms to build and analyze terms related to the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.
ALH017 Body Systems/Terminology 2


  • Explain the anatomy and function of the sensory organs, the nervous system, and the endocrine system.
  • List diseases of the sensory organs, the nervous system, and the endocrine system.
  • Identify tests and procedures to diagnose and treat diseases of the sensory organs, the nervous system, and the endocrine system.
  • Use combining forms to build and analyze terms related to the sensory organs, the nervous system, and the endocrine system.
  • Explain the anatomy and function of the excretory, reproductive, and lymphatic systems.
  • List diseases of the excretory, reproductive, and lymphatic systems.
  • Identify tests and procedures to diagnose and treat diseases of the excretory, reproductive, and lymphatic systems.
  • Use combining forms to build and analyze terms related to the excretory, reproductive, and lymphatic systems.
  • Differentiate between tumor types and explain how cancer develops.
  • Classify cancers and describe the major methods of cancer treatment.
  • Identify radiographic procedures and outline the types and uses of nuclear medicine tests.
  • Summarize surgical methods and pathological processes.
  • Describe the application of genetics to the study of diseases.
ALH021 Basic Pharmacology


  • Discuss pharmacology basics.
  • List the four types of drug names and the two agencies of drug regulation and enforcement.
  • Calculate basic pharmacology mathematics and dosages.
  • Identify medications related to different body systems.
  • Define the medical specialties presented in this lesson.
  • Identify the conditions that each medical specialist treats, and some of the drugs prescribed for them.
  • Identify health-care providers other than physicians who are licensed to prescribe drugs.
  • Identify the types of drugs that each of these licensed health-care providers prescribes and the condition for which each type of drug is prescribed.
  • Name five prominent health-care professionals who aren’t licensed to write prescriptions.
  • Explain the main types of reference information and their sources.
  • List various drug information sources that may be required by law to be present in a pharmacy.
  • Describe the most referenced sources of drug information used in pharmacy practice.

You are required to take five credits in electives.

Computer Specifications
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.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and 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 of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a High School sample lesson, click here.

High School Diploma with Healthcare Electives

Our High School Diploma with a Healthcare Concentration Program will help you to get started on a career in health care right away. Your healthcare electives include:

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