NHS Program of Studies: Important Considerations & School Policies

The following information is covered on this page:

Course Load Requirements

Students in grades 9-11 must carry a minimum of 6.5 credits (includes P.E.) each semester. Seniors must carry a minimum of 5.5 credits (includes Physical Education).

College Entrance Requirements

Colleges prefer a strong academic preparation in high school. Specific subject and grade average requirements vary from one institution to another, as the institutions themselves vary in the programs they offer and the kinds of students they seek. Generally speaking, colleges prefer students who have had a high school program that includes four years of English and social studies, three to four years of mathematics, three to four years of science, and two to five years of a world language. College-bound students who choose to “drop” one of these areas before they graduate should do so only after careful consultation with teachers, counselors, and administrators.

Taking a full academic program and obtaining a high level of achievement, together with activities that show the student is willing to participate in and contribute to the school or community, are the best ways to assure that a student will meet the requirements for college entrance. ­Students should check college ­bulletins and consult their counselor for specific information as they make their choices.

Advancing Through Sequential Courses

There are specific prerequisites for advancing through sequential courses in art, mathematics, science and technology, and world language. Please read those departmental sections carefully. When in doubt about electing the next sequential course, consultation with the teacher and school counselor is recommended.

Class Placement

Class and homeroom placement are based upon the number of credits previously earned. A student must have a minimum of 4.5 units to be ranked as a sophomore. A total of 10.5 units must be accumulated before the student is ranked as a junior; 15 units are required for classification as a senior.


A student may earn a maximum of six-and-a-half units of credit for either a Regents or a local diploma through credit-by-exam, a procedure set forth by the New York State Education Department. Students who believe they will benefit academically by exercising this option must develop an alternative plan for meeting the course requirements, complete a major project that is approved by the director of the department that offers the course being considered, and earn a score of 85% or above on a state-developed or state-approved examination.

A student who is interested must see his/her counselor and the appropriate department director for details. Applications are available through the department directors and must be submitted to the principal for approval prior to beginning a credit-by-exam program.

Opting Out

The district provides opportunities for students and families to “opt out” of non-mandated portions of the curriculum when appropriate. To request the opportunity to opt out of a portion of a program, a student or parent may request the necessary form from the department director, the school office, or the assistant superintendent’s office. Forms must be submitted to the assistant superintendent’s office no less than 10 school days before the topic is begun. The assistant superintendent, in consultation with the requesting parties and staff, will determine if the request is approved.

Program Planning

When you plan your high school program you should take into consideration your special abilities, interests, and objectives. Your pattern of studies will be built around a minimum of required subjects. By carefully selecting elective subjects that meet your needs and satisfy your interests and abilities, you may work toward your own educational, career and technical, and personal goals. It is your responsibility to consult with your parent, teachers, and school counselor.

Graduating in Less Than Four Years

Niskayuna High School students may graduate in less than four years. The decision to do so should be made by parents and students based on the student’s goals, so that the time gained by this decision will be put to good use in work, travel, or continued study at some other institution.
After a parent and student have discussed the proposal thoroughly, they should consult the student’s counselor for a careful consideration of how such a decision could affect the student’s future plans.

The final decision to give permission is made by the principal after consultation with the counselor, the student, and the student’s parents.

Grading Policy

All students receive quarterly grades on the report card as numerical averages ranging from 0-100. All students will have grade point averages calculated on the 0 to 100 scale.

Senior Year Options

It should be noted there are a variety of options for senior year available within the Niskayuna High School program. Career exploration programs are available through the Cooperative Education course offered here. Internships arranged through our school program can be tailored to individual student interests and needs.

Steps in Planning

  1. Establish personal goals. Even though they may be revised, you should have some specific educational, career and technical, and personal objectives toward which you are working.
  2. Honestly evaluate your personal strengths, interests, aptitudes, and needs.
  3. Learn the requirements for entrance to the college or school of your choice or to the kind of work you plan to do after graduation.
  4. Visit the college or vocational resources in which you are interested during 11th grade.
  5. Consult your parent, teachers and school counselor to benefit from their experience and the information they can make available to you. Talk with citizens of the community who are working in the profession or vocation you are considering.
  6. Select the subjects that are to be included in your program. Choose those that will contribute most toward helping you achieve the goals that you have established.
  7. Select subjects so your course load will be balanced throughout the four years you are in high school.

Exploring the Future

In planning your high school program, keep an eye on your hopes for the future. This is a time for learning at least as much about yourself as you do about the content of the courses you take. Pay close attention to what you like and what you do well. Think about how to apply that information to your future plans. Look for ways to try out ideas and suggestions about careers. Listed below are several programs offered at Niskayuna High School and through the Capital Region BOCES that have been designed specifically with this goal in mind. They are programs that give you a chance to work directly and in a meaningful way in a variety of fields, to gain experience and knowledge about careers and about yourself.

NCAA Eligibility Disclosure

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has its own process for determining which courses they will accept for student eligibility. The NCAA is an independent organization with no affiliation with the New York State Education Department or any other formal entity as it relates to academics at the secondary level. Each high school in the country must submit courses to the NCAA for approval on a yearly basis. Therefore, if you are a prospective student athlete for competition at the Division I, I-AA, or II levels, you must go through the NCAA clearinghouse process. We strongly urge students who are candidates for collegiate athletics to meet with their school counselors on a regular basis to review the transcript and verify which courses will be accepted the NCAA. View a list of Niskayuna High School courses that have been approved by the NCAA.

Course Offerings are Based on Enrollment and Subject to Final Budget Approval

High school course offerings are based on enrollment and are subject to final budget approval. It may not be possible to offer all courses described in the Program of Studies due to enrollment or fiscal considerations.