How and Why to Create Course Descriptions for High School

By request: How and why to create course descriptions for high school.

How and Why to Create Course Descriptions for High School

How and Why to Create Course Descriptions for High School

One good reason for homeschooling is to simplify life. So if you want a simple homeschool high school year, skip this post. HOWEVER, you will want to read this post if you have a teen who is:

  • Thinking about the military
  • Hoping for NCAA scholarship for college
  • Going to a college that is unfamiliar with homeschoolers
  • May be transferring to a traditional school at some point

Very often in these instances, the recruiters, officials, admissions officers or guidance staff want to see 3 things:

  • Transcript
  • Course descriptions
  • Syllabus for each core course

Sometimes, they might want:

  • Tests and work samples (see post on Master Portfolio for ideas)
  • Diploma (if your teen is graduated)

Not all homeschool high schoolers need to include course descriptions in their records, but just in case, it’s better to create them when the course is happening.

Course descriptions are slightly detailed (usually a paragraph or two) description of:
  • Text used for course
  • Topics covered by the student in the course
  • Methods used for instruction (text, real books, inquiry-based activities, etc)
  • How the course will be graded
  • Amount of credit earned and at what level of rigor
  • Plus a syllabus, where possible (Here is a post on how to write a syllabus.)

ONE more thing. If your homeschool high schooler is aiming for NCAA college sports, you will also need to formalize your course description a little more by including:

  • Course Goals- This is a short description of what your student should be able to do at the end of the course. An example might be: At the completion of this course, the student will be able to demonstrate an introductory knowledge of Human Development and apply basic principals and theory of Human Development to his daily life.
  • Course Objectives- These are a list of actual tasks that the student will complete. Use the chapters of the text to help you describe the objectives or simply describe some basic goals for the course. You can often use the description in the publisher’s estore or catalogue to develop the objectives.

You will put these at the beginning of the Course Descriptions document followed by the text, topics, methods, grading, amount of credit earned, level of rigor, and syllabus.

Here’s an example of a Course Description for History and Philosophy of the Western World.

History and Philosophy of the Western World
Course Description for History and Philosophy of the Western World

Course Goal:

At the completion of this course, the student will be able to demonstrate an general knowledge of history of the western world along with an introductory knowledge of the major philosophies through time.

Course Objectives:

Throughout the course, the student will:

  • Demonstrate map skills
  • Interact with basic philosophical concepts
  • Demonstrate an increased vocabulary pertinent to history and philosophy
  • Demonstrate test taking skills
  • Demonstrate basic paper-writing skills
  • Complete appropriate projects for student’s assigned level of rigor

(Note: You can go WAY more in-depth with objectives. But since we know there’s not ONE right way to write objectives, we are keeping them brief. If you want to really have a party writing Course Objectives, check Bloom’s Taxonomy or read this brief overview from Iowa State University.)


History and Philosophy of the Western World by Dr. Micah Tillman and Vicki Tillman MA. Published by, 2015.

Topics Covered:

Ancient Greece, Ancient Turkey, and the Natural Philosophers
The Miletans
Ancient Italy and its Philosophers
Early Greek Philosophy
Early Athens and the Sophists
Greece Versus Persia
Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Philosophers
The Middle Ages
St. Augustine
St. Thomas Aquinas
Early Church Reformers
The Renaissance
The Reformation Across Europe
The Baroque Period and Rene Descartes
British Empiricists
The Rationalists and the French Revolution
Immanuel Kant
The Romantic Philosophers and Georg Hegel
The Industrial Revolution
Kierkegaard and Existentialism
The Revolutionary Philosophers- Darwin and Marx
Twentieth Century Philosophers
Twenty-first Century Philosophers

Method of Instruction:

The method of instruction will be self-directed learning under supervision of parent using text, projects, papers, tests and discussion.


The course will be graded on the following scale:

  • 93-100=A
  • 84-92=B
  • 75-83=C
  • Below C will not be a passing grade for this course

The course will be graded based on the following rubric.

Course Credit and Level:

This is a one-credit course. The student will complete the course at Level 5 Honors.


Design your own syllabus based on your family’s needs. Here is a how-to.

Create Course Descriptions for High School How and Why to Write a Syllabus for Homeschool High School Courses
Click image to read post.

REMEMBER: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school OR to write a Course Description, so don’t panic. Adapt this to your needs…and relax! Your teens who need Course Descriptions will be so much better off because you created them as you went along.


7Sisters email subscribers receive periodic practical encouragement, special offers and NO SPAM EVER.

Sign Up for Emails
Click the image above to periodically receive real homeschool value in your inbox.

How and Why to Create Course Descriptions for High School

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

2 Replies to “How and Why to Create Course Descriptions for High School”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *