High School Students

PCS moves during high school can be a challenge for students because of the differences in state and district curriculums and graduation requirements.  This page is designed to help families minimize these challenges and set students up for success in high school and beyond.



Recommended Coursework for Military High School Students

The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) has developed a recommended academic plan to help reduce the potential impact of PCS moves during high school.  These course suggestions should satisfy most of the graduation requirements for stateside and DoDEA schools.

  • English/Language Arts – Take 4 credits.  Courses should have a strong base in literature and composition.
  • Mathematics – Take 4 credits.  Algebra I should be completed by the end of 9th grade (completed in 8th grade if available).  Geometry and Algebra II are highly recommended.  Pre-calculus and Calculus are recommended.  Statistics is also a good option.
  • Social Science – Take 3 credits.  US and World Histories are a must.  Government/Civics and Economics are recommended.  Humanities courses are also good options.
  • Science – Take 4 credits (3 lab sciences).  Biology, Chemistry and Physics are highly recommended.
  • Foreign Language – Take 2 credits of the same language.  Taking more of one language is a good idea; taking a second language is a great idea.
  • Computer Science – Take 1 credit.
  • Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Dual Enrollment – These courses are highly recommended for all subjects when available.

To learn more about the MCEC recommended academic plan, click here.

Choosing the Right High School

Another way to minimize transition issues is to choose a school that aligns with your student’s academic plan.  It’s important to research a school’s course listing (including AP, IB and Dual Enrollment offerings) as well as their activity programs.

Once you find the right school, try to find housing within its attendance boundary (if it’s a public school).  If that’s not possible, then apply for open enrollment (if you’re living outside the district) or a school transfer (if you’re living within the district) in order to attend the school of your choice.  However, please keep in mind there are no guarantees of acceptance with either of these options.  Call your School Liaison Officer (SLO) for more information.

Local High Schools in the Ellsworth AFB Area

Public Schools

Douglas High School (Grades: 9-12) – Douglas School District
420 Patriot Dr, Box Elder, SD 57719
Graduation Requirements
Course Listing
Activities – DHS website, then click on Activities tab

Central High School (Grades: 9-12) – Rapid City Area Schools District
433 Mt Rushmore Rd, Rapid City, SD 57701
Graduation Requirements
Course Listing
Counseling Department

Stevens High School (Grades: 9-12) – Rapid City Area Schools District
4215 Raider Rd, Rapid City, SD 57702
Graduation Requirements
Course Listing
Counseling Department

Rapid City High School – Alternative High School Program (Grades: 9-12)
Rapid City Area Schools District
601 Columbus St, Rapid City, SD 57701
Program Information

Sturgis Brown High School (Grades: 9-12) – Meade School District
12930 East Hwy 34, Sturgis, SD 57785
Graduation Requirements
Course Listing
Counseling Department

New Underwood High School (Grades: 9-12) – New Underwood School District
300 Ash/P.O. Box 128, New Underwood, SD 57761
Graduation Requirements (page 20 of the Student Handbook)
Course Listing – please call the school

Private Schools

Black Hills Lutheran School (Grades: 6-12)
910 Wood Ave / P.O. Box 3034, Rapid City, SD 57709
Admissions Info
Graduation Requirements
Course Listing

RCCSS – St Thomas More High School (Grades: 9-12)
300 Fairmont Blvd, Rapid City, SD 57701
Admissions Info
Uniform Requirements
Graduation Requirements (page 1-2 of the Course Listing)
Course Listing

Rapid City Christian School (Grades: 6-12)
23757 Arena Dr, Rapid City, SD 57702
Admissions Info
Graduation Requirements (page 8 of the Student Handbook)
Course Listing

Help with Transfer Issues

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is a law adopted by all 50 states to help reduce transition issues for military students.  If your student is having any difficulty transferring into their new high school, the Compact may be able to help.  Please contact the SLO for assistance.  To learn more about the Compact, click here.

Additional Academic Offerings

Students who are interested in additional AP and advanced courses beyond what their school offers should check out South Dakota’s Dual Credit and Online AP Course Options.


College Admission Course Requirements

Students should choose their high school courses not only to fulfill their school’s graduation requirements, but also to prepare for their post secondary education.  Each college has their own admission requirements, and students should ensure they meet the minimum course requirements if they hope to be accepted.  Here are examples from 3 different schools:

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of Advanced Mathematics (includes algebra or any higher level math)
  • 3 years of Science (includes biology, chemistry, physics, or other approved science courses in which there is a weekly lab period scheduled)
  • 3 years of Social Sciences
  • 1 year of Fine Arts

For more information, go to www.sdsmt.edu/Admissions/Apply/Admissions-Requirements/

University of Texas at Austin

  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of Mathematics at the level of Algebra I or higher (1 year must be Algebra II or a course equivalent of more advanced in content and rigor
  • 4 years of Science
  • 4 years of Social Studies
  • 2 years of a single Foreign Language

For more information, go to http://bealonghorn.utexas.edu/freshmen/admission

Harvard University

  • 4 years of English, including a close and extensive reading of the classics of the world’s literature
  • 4 years of Mathematics
  • 4 years of Science, including physics, chemistry, and biology, and preferably one of these at an advanced level
  • 3 years of Social Science
  • 3 years of History, including American history, European history, and one additional advanced history course
  • 4 years of a single Foreign Language

For more information, go to https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/preparing-college/choosing-courses

Note:  Course requirements and grades are very important for college admissions, but ACT/SAT scores, extra curricular activities, community involvement and leadership opportunities also play a factor, especially with more competitive schools.

To learn more about preparing for college, choosing a school, and completing the application process, go to the US Department of Education’s Student Aid website.  To make sure your student stays on track during high school, follow these grade level college prep checklists:

PSAT, SAT and ACT Information


As the cost of a post-secondary education continues to climb, parents and students may wonder how they are going to pay for it all.  Ellie Kay (military spouse, financial expert and Heroes at Home speaker) has compiled a number of practical and creative ways to pay for school without parents raiding their retirement accounts and students incurring massive student loans.  You can read about her ideas here.

For more information on scholarships, financial aid and VA benefits, click on the links below:

Scholarships for Military Dependents

Local High School Scholarship Sites

Scholarship Search Sites

Financial Aid

Post 9/11 GI Bill

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