Should CS Be Required in High School? - Ellipsis Education

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Should CS Be Required in High School?

February 2, 2023
Meghan Lund Content Marketing Specialist

In order to put on that cap and gown and walk across the stage with a diploma in hand, high school students must work hard to complete a certain amount of credits in various subject areas. English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Physical Education are common high school graduation requirements – even if students do not intend to pursue these subjects after high school.

Has the time come to update these requirements and add computer science to the mix? There is no doubt that today’s youth needs to be equipped with computer and technology skills to be successful. Everywhere you look, our society relies on tech!

In this blog, we explore why high school should have computer science requirements in order to earn that diploma.

Should CS Be Required High School? 3 Reasons Why.

As mentioned above, the core subjects of ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies are often required for students to graduate from high school. But, in the 21st century, shouldn’t computer science be included in the mix? The importance of computer science in education goes beyond just coding and programming knowledge. Here are 3 reasons why computer science is important for all high school students:


Educating all high school students in computer science opens doors for them to pursue computer science majors in college. Beyond the obvious concentration in computer science, there are many related areas of study like computer information systems, information technology, data science, and computer systems networking. Even non-CS majors, like business, biology, and English constantly use technology to communicate ideas.


Students today have access to technologies ranging from virtual reality games, to cell phones and social media, to classrooms full of tablets or laptops.  We must ensure that students can navigate these technologies with care and responsibility.


Students who know how to think about problems and build solutions will have the upper hand when pursuing careers; studying CS can improve these critical thinking and problem-solving skills. One study found a positive relationship between learning computer programming and the skills of creative thinking, metacognition, and reasoning (Scherer, Siddiq, & Viveros, 2019). The students who learned computer programming were able to show a transfer of learning to other domains outside of computer science.  These are skills that are essential in many walks of life and careers.

These three reasons lay out the importance of CS, and why it should be required for high school graduation. If you’re still wondering, “What is computer science education,” these reasons should remind you that it is more than just coding – it teaches skills essential for our 21st century society.

Computer Programming Classes for High School Students

There are a variety of different types of computer science classes that could be available at your high school. If a student wonders, “Should I take computer science in high school?”, then the more options there are available to pique their interest, the better. Some common course offerings include Web Design, App Development, Computer Programming, Artificial Intelligence, Game Development, Animation, and Music Production. Here at Codelicious, we offer four different options for grades 9-12. Preview them below, and then explore our free lessons for high school students.


Here at Codelicious, we offer K-12 computer science curriculum. Our high school computer programming curriculum begins with a 9th grade JavaScript course. Then, we offer three elective courses for students who want to deepen their computer science education. Take a look at each of our courses:

  • High School Computer Science JavaScript: Explore computational thinking and computer science principles. Apply web development skills in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Develop websites that integrate data and interactive elements. Unplugged and Digital Citizenship lessons focus on technological trends, ethical behavior, and comparing the global and local impacts of technology. At the end of this course, students will have developed a strong programming foundation that prepares them for advanced coding courses and a technology-enabled workplace.
  • High School Computer Science Python: Expand core computer science skills. Analyze, manipulate, and develop programs using Python, a line coding language. Learn programming concepts like comments, methods, and print functions. Unplugged and Digital Citizenship lessons explore real-world applications of the Python language through data manipulation, ethical behavior, and STEM careers. At the end of this course, students will be familiar with Python and its real-world application in computer science today.
  • High School Computer Science Java: Demonstrate existing computer science skills and deepen interest in programming. Learn the basics of object oriented programming using Java, an advanced text-based coding language. Explore loops, objects, methods, and classes, and use them to develop airplane data modeling and user input projects, among others. Unplugged and Digital Citizenship lessons explore the importance of digital and physical security in relation to cybersecurity. At the end of this course, students will be prepared for AP Computer Science at the high school level.
  • High School Computer Science Game Development: Engage with game development processes through text-based coding to learn the fundamentals of game theory and game design. Learn game psychology and gaming constructs. Explore physics interactions, security measures, and troubleshooting techniques. Unplugged and Digital Citizenship lessons focus on applications, ethical behavior, and STEM careers in the gaming industry. At the end of this course, students will be able to navigate the Godot gaming environment, have an understanding of industry careers and ethical considerations, and be able to create their own games using game design principles.

As you explore each course page, take a look at the high school computer science curriculum pdf to preview the course in more detail. If any of these computer science high school programs seem like a good fit for your school, schedule a 30 minute call with one of our curriculum experts. To view a computer curriculum guide pdf to see a preview of our offerings, sign up for a 30 day free trial.

Free High School Computer Science Lessons

We understand that teaching computer science is a big task and that takes a lot of preparation and planning. That’s why our lessons include materials, resources, instructions, and assessments. Take a glimpse at the lesson plans for our free computer science programs for high school students listed below.

  • Coding – It’s All in the Details: Students will spend time predicting, running, and investigating code to enhance their understanding of output and print() functions. Then, they will explore the effects of bugs in a Python program and discuss common Python errors to avoid. Students will debug a prewritten program through the modification process. After being exposed to basic debugging, students will independently develop two programs to demonstrate their understanding of bugs in Python.
  • Unplugged – API Applications: Students will review APIs through an analogy. Then, students will discuss the three main types of APIs and their applications. Finally, students will complete an activity to help an app development agency decide on potential APIs to implement in their apps.
  • STEM Career – Augmented Reality Engineer: Students will learn about the role of an augmented reality (AR) engineer. After examining the history of AR and how it differs from virtual reality, students will consider how this technology could evolve in the future and answer the question, what is computer engineering.

In addition to our free computer science lessons, we offer other free resources including our My STEM Career podcast (which explores various careers in computer science) and our Computer Science Webinars (which tackle computer science topics for teachers).

Do You Need to Take Computer Science in High School to Take it in College?

As students think about the next step in their academic careers, they might be asking, “What if I didn’t take computer science in high school?” or “What should I know before applying to computer science colleges?” Not only does taking computer science in high school help students prepare for college-level coursework, but students who take computer science throughout their K-12 experience will develop even more essential skills. To explore the benefits of a K-12 computer science experience, we spoke with industry experts who laid out the top 3 reasons why students should learn CS before high school.

But if you’re thinking, “My school doesn t have computer science,” it’s okay! You don’t have to know everything about computer science before college. After all, university instructors and professors are there to teach students all about computer science! Whether or not students take CS in high school, students may want to pursue a computer science degree in college. The best undergraduate computer science schools in the United States, including MIT, Stanford University, and Princeton, offer concentrations in various areas of computer science, like computer information systems, information technology, computer software and applications, and computer systems networking. Even if students don’t attend one of the best schools for computer science, a college education will open countless doors for computer science degree jobs in cloud computing, app development, statistical analysis, and more.

The reality is, though, computer science is useful to students of all disciplines. Computer science skills taught in K-12 can be applied directly to any career students pursue after high school, whether they find themselves in the CS industry or not. Computational thinking, problem solving, and teamwork skills can be applied in trades (like electrician, plumber, and HVAC) and other positions (like retail, restaurants, and reception). 

Codelicious spotlights the many forms of computer science careers in our My STEM Career series. In these interviews, hear from professionals, students, and teachers as they share how they built confidence in their computer science skills. Two particularly interesting interviews include Will Muto, a Product Technical Director at Industrial Light and Magic, who worked on Star Wars films, and Alia Enos, Software Engineer II at 343 Industries, who works on the Halo video game series. 

Free High School Lesson for Computer Science in Schools

Do you want to explore more about what is computer science in high school? Dive in with a free lesson for your high school classroom. In this STEM career lesson, students will learn about the role of an augmented reality (AR) engineer. After examining the history of AR and how it differs from virtual reality, students will consider how this technology could evolve in the future.

This lesson is built for grades 9-12. The lesson plan PDF includes links to the appropriate materials and resources, a detailed procedure, activity tips, and a bonus challenge activity.

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