What are the High School Science Courses?

While most people are familiar with chemistry and biology, there happen to be a great number of science courses available to high school students. Some are required and others are optional, but each offers a leg up to students eyeing colleges or hoping to seek a career in the sciences. As STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs gain momentum, there are more science classes available than ever before.

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So, what options are available to students with an interest or background in science? While this list may not be exhaustive, it covers the vast majority offered in public high school systems (students are typically required to take between two and three years of science curriculum).


Biology is typically the first science class that high school students take. Biology classes focus less on math, allowing students to enroll in a variety of math classes before being required to apply those skills in science classes. In biology, students will cover cells, organisms (and how they relate to the environment around them), ecology, genetics, and human growth and development.

Often, students who prefer non-science subjects tend to enjoy biology, as it eases them into harder sciences while providing a good educational foundation.


Chemistry is typically taken next and involves slightly more math than a biology class. Students in chemistry classes will study reaction rates, chemical energy, the concept of moles, and acids and bases. Students may either love or hate chemistry, though with proper preparation and a good teacher, it can be fun!

To be successful in chemistry class, students should pay careful attention and use practice problems—the math required can get easier if you consistently work on it!

Physical/Earth Science

Physical/Earth Science typically covers organic chemistry, chemical bonding, stoichiometry, rock types, and atmospheric science. While some schools call this course either Physical Science or Earth Science, the coursework is similar.

Students may take this course in their junior year of high school; sometimes, they may have the choice between it and physics. Physical/Earth Science may be a better choice for you if you’re less confident in science or have a harder time with math.


Students may choose to take physics because it can look stronger on college applications, as it typically presents a higher level of difficulty. In a junior year physics class, expect to cover concepts relating to matter, space and time, motion and forces, optics and light, magnetism and electricity, and atomic physics. Be prepared for a challenge.

Elective Science Coursework...

Often, students who take science the first three years of high school are not required to take a science course during their senior year. However, those who wish to continue studying science or math (or who otherwise find science interesting) may choose to enroll in additional science courses. The following elective courses can build upon skills learned in earlier science courses.

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Environmental Science

In this class, students should expect to cover topics related to the application of environmental analysis. Topics will include energy, atmosphere, land, water, and ecological structures. Students will also learn about data collection and reaching conclusions based on research and experimentation.

Forensic Science

In a forensic science class, a student should expect a class that is more focused on scientific process. While there’s bound to be plenty of exciting (fictional) crime scene analysis, the class is also interested in law and courtroom procedure, data collection, hypothesis formation and testing, and lab work.


Not to be confused with astrology, astronomy focuses not on the horoscopes in the Sunday paper but the science behind the stars. Students will study black holes, history and development of the solar system, laws of gravity and motion, and methods of research.

As you can see from the variety of classes listed, there are many avenues of science from which students can learn! If you feel this is one of your weaker subjects, consider seeking science tutoring or meeting with your teachers to see what kind of assistance they can recommend.

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