Four full years of study are required for graduation. In grades 9, 10, and 11 the normal expectation is that five or six credits will be taken each year. Full-year courses earn one credit and semester-long courses earn a half credit. In grade 12, a minimum of four-and-a-half credits must be earned. In some courses, credit depends on the completion of all assignments designated “essential to the course."
Seniors are required to take four full credit courses and a fifth requirement. The fifth requirement does not have to be in any particular department. Moreover, that requirement can be fulfilled in a variety of ways in lieu of (or in addition to) a “regular” course. Students whose fifth option will not be a Riverdale class must have their choice cleared by a committee, consisting of the Director of Learning, the Head of Upper School, and their dean.Some examples include:
- A mini-course and an independent study that are linked in some way.
- An independent study.
- Teaching a mini-course under supervision of a faculty member.
- An online course taken through the auspices of another institution.
- A course taken at a local college.
- A mini-course.
- Directing a production.
- A significant service-learning project.
Students in grades 11 and 12 must include in their programs any courses or other requirements that they have not completed earlier. The other courses they choose from include electives in arts, computer science, English, language, history, mathematics, and science. Because of the difficulties in scheduling a multi-elective program, students may not be able to take every elective they choose. When space is limited, preference is given to seniors. Courses listed in the catalog are not offered when there is insufficient enrollment.