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Complete List of High School Electives


Are you thinking about high school electives and wondering what your options are? Unlike required courses, electives are classes you choose based on your interests. Most high schools offer electives that cover a wide variety of topics, so you're sure to find some that interest you!

This list was created by compiling the elective options from numerous high schools across the country. A variety of schools were used including public, private, large and small schools in order to create a complete list of high school electives.


How to Use This List

This list is intended to give you an introduction to all the possible electives you may come across as a high school student. You can use it as a starting point for doing more in-depth research of your own school's electives.

Read through the list below, making note of any course names that seem particularly interesting. Then, grab a copy of your school's course catalog (ask your guidance counselor if you don't know where to find it), and look to see which of the electives you found interesting are offered by your school.

Make sure to read through the course descriptions because electives can have different names depending on the school offering them, even if they cover essentially the same topic (for example, the culinary arts class listed below could also be called cooking, foods, or something similar). Mark the interesting electives you find in your course catalog as potential classes to take in the future.

Also, because this list organizes electives by category, you can see which categories have the most interesting electives for you. While electives don't include all topics covered in a specific field, if you marked, for example, a lot of the science electives as potentially interesting topics to study, you may want to think about continuing to study science in college. Being interested in your classes is one of the best way to get higher grades and enjoy what you're learning.

Now that you have the complete list, are you wondering how to choose which electives to take? We have a guide for that! Read through it to learn how many electives you'll be able to take and how to choose electives that are both interesting and will strengthen your college applications!


What If Your School Doesn't Offer an Elective Listed Below?

It would be impossible for any single school to offer every elective on this list; there are simply too many. Schools choose which electives to offer based on a number of factors including location, student population, resources available, teacher expertise, and student interest.

If you are interested in one of the electives on this list but don't see it offered in your school's course catalog, you can take the following actions:

  • Talk to your guidance counselor or department head. The elective may be under a different name than the one listed below, or your school may offer a similar course.
  • If there is no comparable course and you are really interested in the subject, talk to your guidance counselor and see if it's possible for you to do an independent study or take the course at a local community college.


The Complete List of Electives


  • Accounting
  • Business law
  • Business management
  • Consumer education
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Introduction to business
  • Marketing
  • Personal finance




Computer Science/Information Technology

  • Animation
  • App development
  • Audio production
  • Computer programming
  • Computer repair
  • Film production
  • Graphic design
  • Media technology
  • Music production
  • Typing
  • Video game development
  • Web design
  • Web programming
  • Word processing


Family and Consumer Science

  • Chemistry of foods
  • CPR training
  • Culinary arts
  • Early childhood development
  • Early childhood education
  • Family studies
  • Fashion and retail merchandising
  • Fashion construction
  • Home economics
  • Interior design
  • Nutrition



Foreign Language

  • American Sign Language
  • Ancient Greek
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latin
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish



You might even learn all the Dutch names of the Chinese zodiac signs!


Language and Writing

  • Advanced composition
  • African literature
  • Asian literature
  • British literature
  • Cinema studies
  • Contemporary literature
  • Creative writing
  • Debate
  • Film study
  • Gothic literature
  • Humanities
  • Journalism
  • Poetry
  • Popular literature
  • Practical writing
  • Public speaking
  • Rhetoric
  • School yearbook
  • Works of Shakespeare
  • World literature



  • Computer math
  • Math applications
  • Probability and statistics
  • Quantitative literacy
  • Trigonometry


Performing Arts

  • Choir
  • Concert band
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Guitar
  • Jazz band
  • Marching band
  • Music theory
  • Orchestra
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Theater technology
  • World music




Physical Education

  • Aerobics
  • Dance
  • Gymnastics
  • Health
  • Lifeguard training
  • Pilates
  • Racquet sports
  • Specialized sports
  • Swimming
  • Weight training
  • Yoga



  • Agriculture
  • Astronomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Botany
  • Earth science
  • Environmental science
  • Forensic science
  • Geology
  • Human physiology
  • Marine biology
  • Meteorology
  • Oceanography
  • Physics
  • Sound and acoustics
  • Zoology


Social Studies

  • African studies
  • Asian studies
  • Civics
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Current events
  • Economics
  • European history
  • Human geography
  • International relations
  • Latin American studies
  • Middle East studies
  • Mythology
  • Philosophy
  • Physical anthropology
  • Political studies
  • Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology
  • US government
  • Women's studies
  • World politics
  • World religions




Visual Arts

  • 3-D art
  • Art history
  • Ceramics
  • Digital media
  • Drawing
  • Film production
  • Jewelry design
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture


Vocational Education

  • Auto body repair
  • Auto mechanics
  • Building construction
  • Computer-aided drafting
  • Cosmetology
  • Criminal justice
  • Driver Education
  • Electronics
  • FFA (Future Farmers of America)
  • Fire science
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps)
  • Metalworking
  • Networking
  • Plumbing
  • Production technology
  • Refrigeration fundamentals
  • Robotics
  • Woodworking


What's Next?

Now that you know the options you have for electives, read our guide to learn how to choose electives that will interest you and strengthen your college applications.

Trying to decide whether to take the ACT or the SAT? Read our guide to figure out which test will get you a better score!

Are you considering summer academic programs for middle school and high school students? Take a look at our guides for the TIP, SIG, CTY, and Stanford EPGY programs.



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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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