As a junior in high school, you’re starting to think about college and career paths. The classes you take as a junior are important for preparing you for your future goals and interests. If you’re wondering what classes to take, here’s a quick answer: Most juniors take core classes like English, math, science, and history.

They also take electives related to their interests and required classes for graduation.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over the typical junior year course load, including both required and elective classes. We’ll provide tips on choosing classes aligned with your goals after high school.

We’ll also explain why junior year coursework is so critical for college applications and discuss strategies for creating a strong class schedule.

Required Core Academic Classes

When it comes to their junior year in high school, students can expect to take a variety of core academic classes. These classes are designed to provide a well-rounded education and prepare students for college and beyond.

The required core academic classes typically include English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and History/Social Studies.

English/Language Arts

English/Language Arts is an essential class for junior students. It focuses on improving reading comprehension, writing skills, and critical thinking. Students will be exposed to various literature genres, write essays, and engage in class discussions.

This class is crucial for developing effective communication skills, both written and verbal, which are essential in all aspects of life.


Mathematics is another core academic class that juniors must take. This class builds upon the mathematical concepts learned in previous years and covers topics like algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus.

Math skills are valuable in many career fields, and this class helps students develop problem-solving abilities and logical reasoning skills.


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Science classes in junior year typically cover a range of topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics. These classes provide students with a deeper understanding of the natural world and scientific principles.

Through hands-on experiments and lab work, students learn to analyze data, make observations, and draw conclusions. Science classes cultivate critical thinking and a curiosity about the world around us.


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History/Social Studies

History/Social Studies classes delve into the study of human societies, cultures, and events. Students explore different time periods, analyze primary and secondary sources, and develop a broader understanding of historical events and their significance.

This class helps students develop their research skills, critical thinking abilities, and a better understanding of the world’s diverse cultures and perspectives.

For more information on high school curriculum and course options, you can visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

Elective Academic Classes

When it comes to elective academic classes, high school juniors have a wide range of options to choose from. These classes not only allow students to explore their interests and passions but also provide them with valuable skills and knowledge that can benefit them in the future.

Here are some popular elective academic classes that juniors often take:

World Languages

Learning a foreign language can open doors to a world of opportunities. Many high schools offer a variety of world languages such as Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and more. Taking a world language class not only helps students communicate with people from different cultures, but it also enhances their cognitive abilities and improves their chances of success in higher education and the global job market.

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), students who study a foreign language in high school perform better on standardized tests, have higher GPAs, and are more likely to attend college.

So, whether it’s to fulfill graduation requirements or to expand their horizons, world language classes are a popular choice among high school juniors.

Computer Science

In today’s digital age, computer science skills are in high demand. High schools across the country have recognized this and are offering computer science classes to their students. These classes teach students programming languages, software development, web design, and other computer-related skills.

Not only do computer science classes provide students with valuable technical skills, but they also foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, making computer science classes a great option for high school juniors who are interested in pursuing a career in this field.

Visual/Performing Arts

For students who have a passion for creativity and self-expression, visual and performing arts classes are a perfect fit. Whether it’s drawing, painting, photography, theater, dance, or music, these classes allow students to explore their artistic abilities and develop their own unique style.

Studies have shown that participation in the arts can improve critical thinking skills, boost self-confidence, and enhance overall academic performance. In fact, a report by the National Endowment for the Arts found that students who are involved in the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and to participate in extracurricular activities.

So, whether they aspire to be the next Picasso or simply want to unleash their creative side, visual and performing arts classes offer a world of possibilities for high school juniors.

Additional Core Academic Classes

While elective academic classes are a great way to explore new interests, it’s important for high school juniors to continue strengthening their core academic skills. This means taking additional core academic classes such as advanced math, science, English, and social studies courses.

These classes not only provide students with a deeper understanding of these subjects but also prepare them for college-level coursework. Additionally, high school juniors may also choose to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which allow them to earn college credit and demonstrate their academic prowess to prospective colleges and universities.

So, while elective classes are important, it’s crucial for juniors to strike a balance between exploring new interests and continuing their academic growth.

Classes for Specific Interests and Careers

High school juniors have the opportunity to choose classes that align with their specific interests and potential career paths. By exploring different subjects and gaining knowledge in specific fields, students can set a solid foundation for their future endeavors.

Here are some of the classes that juniors can take based on their interests:


For students who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), there are a variety of classes available. These classes typically focus on subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and advanced mathematics.

Students can learn valuable skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and innovation, which are highly sought after in today’s technological world.

Business and Finance

Juniors with an interest in business and finance can take classes that introduce them to the fundamentals of economics, accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurship. These classes provide a solid understanding of how businesses operate and the principles behind financial management.

Students can develop skills in analyzing data, making informed decisions, and understanding the complexities of the business world.

Health Science and Medicine

For those considering a career in healthcare, there are a range of classes available in health science and medicine. These classes may cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and healthcare ethics.

Students can gain a deeper understanding of the human body and healthcare practices, preparing them for further studies in fields like nursing, medicine, or allied health.

Law and Criminal Justice

Juniors interested in the legal system and criminal justice can take classes that provide an introduction to law and its various disciplines. These classes may cover topics such as constitutional law, criminal law, forensic science, and criminology.

Students can learn about the legal process, the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and the principles of justice.

Teaching and Education

For those considering a career in education, there are classes available that provide a foundation for teaching and working with students. These classes may cover topics such as educational psychology, teaching methodologies, child development, and classroom management.

Students can gain practical skills and strategies for creating engaging learning environments and supporting the academic and emotional growth of students.

Trades and Industry

Students who are interested in pursuing careers in trades and industry can take classes that provide hands-on experience in specific fields. These classes may include subjects such as woodworking, automotive technology, culinary arts, electrical systems, or construction.

By gaining practical skills and knowledge, students can be well-prepared for careers in skilled trades or technical fields.

Humanities and Liberal Arts

For students who have a passion for literature, history, languages, or the arts, there are classes available in the humanities and liberal arts. These classes may cover subjects such as English literature, world history, foreign languages, visual arts, or music.

Students can develop their creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills, which are valuable in a wide range of careers.

It’s important for juniors to carefully consider their interests and long-term goals when choosing classes. By selecting classes that align with their passions, they can make the most of their high school education and pave the way for future success.

High school guidance counselors can provide valuable guidance in selecting the most appropriate classes based on students’ interests and career aspirations.

Non-Academic Electives

Aside from their core academic courses, juniors in high school have the opportunity to explore various non-academic electives that provide a well-rounded education and contribute to their personal growth.

These non-academic electives help students develop important life skills, foster their physical well-being, and engage in extracurricular activities that enhance their overall high school experience.

Physical Education and Health

One of the non-academic electives that juniors typically take is Physical Education (PE) and Health. PE classes aim to improve students’ physical fitness, coordination, and sportsmanship. They often involve activities such as team sports, fitness exercises, and outdoor adventures.

In addition to physical fitness, juniors also learn about the importance of nutrition, mental health, and making healthy lifestyle choices in their Health classes. These courses not only promote a healthy lifestyle but also provide an outlet for students to relieve stress and have fun while staying active.

Life Skills and Personal Growth

Juniors also have the opportunity to take elective classes that focus on life skills and personal growth. These classes aim to equip students with essential skills and knowledge that will benefit them beyond high school.

For example, they may take courses in financial literacy, where they learn about budgeting, investing, and managing personal finances. Other classes may focus on effective communication, time management, and problem-solving skills.

These electives empower juniors to navigate the challenges of adulthood and prepare them for success in their future careers.

Clubs, Activities, and Leadership

High schools offer a wide range of clubs, activities, and leadership opportunities that juniors can participate in. These extracurricular options allow students to pursue their interests, discover new hobbies, and develop leadership skills.

Whether it’s joining a debate club, participating in a school play, or becoming a member of the student council, these activities provide valuable experiences outside the classroom. They also foster teamwork, collaboration, and creativity while allowing students to make new friends and create lasting memories.

It’s important for juniors to take advantage of these non-academic electives as they not only provide a break from traditional academic subjects but also offer valuable skills and experiences that contribute to their personal growth and development.

These electives help shape well-rounded individuals who are equipped with a diverse skill set and a passion for lifelong learning.

Tips for Choosing Junior Year Classes

Take Challenging Courses Aligned with Your Interests

When selecting classes for your junior year of high school, it’s important to choose courses that not only challenge you academically but also align with your interests. This will help keep you motivated and engaged in your studies.

Consider taking advanced placement (AP) or honors courses in subjects that you excel in or have a strong passion for. These courses can not only boost your GPA but also provide you with valuable college credits.

Balance Academics with Activities You Enjoy

While it’s important to challenge yourself academically, don’t forget to balance your coursework with activities you enjoy. High school is not just about academics, but also about personal growth and discovering your passions.

Consider joining clubs, sports teams, or participating in community service activities that align with your interests. These extracurricular activities can help you develop important skills, build relationships, and make your high school experience more enjoyable.

Meet with Your Counselor to Map Out a Plan

Your high school counselor can be a valuable resource when it comes to choosing your junior year classes. They can provide guidance on graduation requirements, college admissions requirements, and offer suggestions based on your future goals.

Schedule a meeting with your counselor to discuss your interests, strengths, and aspirations. Together, you can create a plan that sets you up for success in your junior year and beyond.

Consider Both Graduation and College Requirements

When selecting your junior year classes, it’s important to consider both graduation requirements and the prerequisites for the colleges or universities you plan to apply to. Make sure you are aware of the specific course requirements for the colleges you are interested in and choose your classes accordingly.

This will help ensure that you are on track to meet both high school graduation requirements and the prerequisites for your desired colleges.

Choose Electives Strategically to Explore Career Paths

Junior year is a great time to start exploring potential career paths. Consider choosing elective courses that align with your interests and could potentially lead to future career opportunities. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, you may want to take a health sciences or anatomy class.

These elective courses can help you gain valuable knowledge and skills that may be beneficial in your future career.

Why Junior Year Course Selection Matters

Junior year is a crucial time for high school students as they begin to make important decisions about their academic futures. The courses chosen during this year can have a significant impact on a student’s overall high school experience and future opportunities.

Here are several reasons why junior year course selection matters:

Sets You Up for Senior Year Classes

The courses taken during junior year often serve as prerequisites for more advanced classes in senior year. By carefully selecting the right courses, students can set themselves up for success in their final year of high school.

For example, taking advanced math and science courses can prepare students for more challenging courses like AP Calculus and AP Physics.

Can Impact College Admissions

Colleges and universities consider a student’s course selection when evaluating applications. Admissions officers are looking for students who have challenged themselves academically and have taken a rigorous course load.

By taking challenging courses during junior year, students can demonstrate their academic abilities and increase their chances of being accepted into their desired colleges.

Allows Focus in Areas of Interest

Junior year is an ideal time for students to explore their interests and passions. By selecting courses that align with their interests, students can delve deeper into specific subjects and gain a better understanding of what they may want to pursue in college or as a career.

For example, if a student is interested in computer science, they can take programming or coding courses to further develop their skills in that area.

Opens Doors for Advanced Learning

Many high schools offer advanced classes or programs that are only available to students who have completed certain prerequisites. By carefully selecting courses during junior year, students can position themselves to take advantage of these opportunities.

This can include advanced placement (AP) courses, dual enrollment programs, or specialized tracks within a particular subject area.

Provides Ways to Boost GPA and Class Rank

The courses taken during junior year can have a significant impact on a student’s grade point average (GPA) and class rank. By choosing challenging courses and performing well in them, students can boost their GPA and improve their class rank.

This can be particularly important for students aiming for scholarships or competitive college admissions.

Overall, junior year course selection plays a vital role in shaping a student’s high school experience and future opportunities. It is important for students to carefully consider their interests, goals, and academic strengths when selecting their courses for this pivotal year.


As a high school junior, you want to make the most of your important upperclassman year. Taking strategic and purposeful classes aligned with your goals and interests will put you on the right path. Meet with your guidance counselor, teachers and parents to determine the optimal course schedule.

With smart planning and challenging academics, your junior year classes will prepare you for an exciting senior year and successful next steps after graduation.

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