Nov 23, 2021 |

What Kind of Structure Will an Online High School Curriculum Have?

By Gravitas

online high school student

An online high school affords you the opportunity to earn a diploma on a schedule that might be a better fit to a rich and full life outside of the classroom. Although remote learning will provide you with flexibility, much of the academic content will be similar to what you might experience in a traditional high school. Individual states, overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, determine core requirements. Courses, units, and assessment methods may vary, but at its foundation, your high school education will have similar minimum standards regardless of where you live and whether you attend in-person or online.

Course Structure in an Online High School

Courses, credits, and exit exam requirements for a high school diploma are determined by your state, but there is significant consistency across the country. For example, regardless of whether you learn on campus or online, you can expect core classes in:

  • Mathematics, including Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus
  • Science, including biology, chemistry, and physics
  • English language and literature
  • History or social studies
  • World Language

You will also have access to elective courses such as:

  • Advanced courses in the core subjects
  • Visual and Performing Arts, including studio arts, digital arts, instrumental courses like band or orchestra, theater, dance, and creative writing
  • Technology and Engineering, including Computer Science and STEM courses
  • Philosophy and Ethics
  • Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Independent research projects

Classroom Structure in an Online High School

Online schools tend to have more flexibility in how they deliver the curriculum than typical brick and mortar schools do. For example, online schools can blend synchronous and asynchronous instruction, allowing you more flexibility as to when you complete assignments and meet for live class. Fewer live classes mean you can attend classes at a time that is most convenient to your schedule. It also allows you the opportunity to collaborate with students from other time zones. You might attend class with students across the state and country or around the globe. And if you travel, you don’t need to miss out on your education.

How your online classroom is managed will vary depending on the year, course, lesson, and project. For example, you can expect that the lessons you are taught in ninth grade will serve as a foundation for what comes later. Scaffolding, where you learn and develop new concepts in stages, is often employed so that by your junior and senior years you might experience more intensive college preparatory courses or focused academies. An online high school may also allow you to complete courses at your own pace. Especially if you’re self-driven, this approach can have the advantage of allowing you to advance in your studies more quickly than if you were in class with peers. On the other hand, if you appreciate the structure and consistency of instructor-led courses with classmates, you can study and hit deadlines with your peers.

Course Intensity in Online High Schools

Some online schools diverge from the traditional semester or trimester models employed on campus and offer intensive courses, where you can focus on fewer subjects at a time during shorter terms. For example, at Gravitas, most of the curriculum occurs in seven-week intensive terms, including an optional summer term. This means that you can dive more deeply into your major course instead of juggling six or seven classes at once. This structure reduces the amount of live class time and number of teachers you see in a single day. Another advantage of this approach is that you might be able to join the program at different times throughout the year. Schools around the world have different calendars—many start in August or September, but some start in January, some in March, and some in April. By allowing you to “jump on the carousel” whenever is best for you, online schools can serve a broader student base, even attracting international students to their programs more easily.


If you’re interested in an online high school that provides you with structure and flexibility, contact Gravitas today. As the online extension of The Stony Brook School in New York, Gravitas brings a century of educational experience to a 21st century platform. Contact us today to apply.

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