Academy Distinction

Academy Distinction Requirements

Academy for Classical Studies Academy for Design and Technology Academy for Global Studies Academy for Science and Innovation
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Additional Academic Requirements for Graduation Distinction

  • 3 credits of fine arts or other approved ACS elective​
  • 1 credit of Latin OR 4 credits of fine arts or other approved ACS electives
  • Receive 3 credits in technology-based or design-focused electives
  • Receive 4 credits of a spoken world language
  • Receive credit in a 5th science course
  • Complete a science pathway: Physics & Engineering, Environmental Studies, or Pre-med/Allied Health
Approved Academy Electives
If you choose to not take Latin, the following courses count as an ACS-approved elective that will count towards the graduation distinction:

Debate, Logic, Journalism, Creative Writing, Literary Genres, Model UN, American Film & Music, Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, European Studies, AP Human Geography, Sociology, Psychology, additional fine arts/performing arts courses

The following electives count as technology-based or design-focused electives that count towards the ADT graduation distinction:

CTE electives in Business & Industry;  STEM-focused electives like Engineering, Robotics, Computer Science, Coding; Visual Arts electives like Graphic Design, Digital Media, Animation; Technical Theater

If you choose to not take a 4th credit of the same spoken world language, the following courses count as an AGS-related  elective that count towards the graduation distinction:
Intro language course in a different language (including ASL or Latin),Cines Las Americas, Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, Model UN, Contemporary Issues, Women’s Studies, AP Human Geography, AP European History, AP Environmental Science

To earn the graduation distinction in ASI, students must complete a Biomedical pathway or STEM pathway in Engineering or Computer Science


Students may take a 5th advanced math and 5th advanced science.

Additional Requirements for Graduation Distinction
  • Earn 80 Civic Engagement Points
  • 120 points = Classy Award
  • Civic Engagement Points should be logged on
  • Earn 80 “techsploration” points 
  • 120 points = Endeavor Award
  • Techsploration Points should be logged on the ADT Blend course
  • Earn 80 global citizenship points
  • 120 points = Globie Award
  • Global Citizenship Points should be logged on
  • Earn 80 exploration points
  • 120 points = Explorer Award
  • Exploration Points should be logged on the ASI Blend course
  • ​Senior Seminar Experience
  • ​Complete one of the senior seminar options and present a portfolio
  • ​Complete one of the senior seminar options and present a portfolio
  • ​Complete one of the senior seminar options and present a portfolio
Senior Seminar Options
  • Service-learning Design Project (capstone), OR
  • Thesis Research Paper, OR
  • Internship (50 hours+)
  • Independent Passion Project, OR
  • Makerspace Internship, OR
  • Internship (50 hours+)
  • Service-learning Design Project (capstone), OR
  • Internship (50 hours+)
  • Science Research Methods Course, OR
  • Internship (50 hours+)

Austin High Academy Distinctions Handout

What is the Senior Seminar?


Is the Senior Seminar required for graduation?

  • The senior seminar was designed as an opportunity (as opposed to a requirement) for students in each academy to engage with the academy pillars of learning on a project of their own design. This course gives students the freedom to interact with the world outside of Austin High as well as explore what they might be interested in after graduation. While this course is not required for graduation, it is required to earn a distinction from your academy.
  • NOTE: All students in Austin ISD follow the same rules for graduation requirements as listed in the Austin ISD Secondary School Information Guide. One of the course options can be used to fulfill an elective, core, or pathway requirement depending on the senior seminar court option you select based upon your academy. Talk with your counselor to determine if one of the course options can be helpful to meet a graduation requirement. 

Can you explain the differences between the two different internship options?

  • There are two different options to gain time/credit to complete an internship.

Is Senior Seminar a one-semester course or a full-year course?

  • That depends on the option you choose. In the senior seminar course catalog, each course has a "credit" listing. If the course has 1.0 next to "credit", this course is a full year. Otherwise, the course is considered a single semester course.

How do I book an internship?

  • Students wanting to participate in an internship their senior year are ultimately responsible for finding, applying for, and securing an internship. In early May, a list of internships opportunities at AHS will be published on this webpage and emailed using Naviance
  • If you are planning to find your own internship, you will be enrolled in a course at Austin High that monitors your hours, reflections, portfolio development, and final presentations.  You must earn 50+ hours, but you may complete that in one semester (approx 3 hours per week) or over the course of the year (1.5 hours per week). Please indicate on your choice sheet if you intend to pursue a one-semester internship or a full-year internship: The following course numbers count as an internship towards graduation distinction.

Use the internet to help you search for more formal internship options. However, don't let a lack of a formal posting/application deter your search. Students have reported success calling various persons or places in the area to ask if they would consider allowing students to intern. In general, students who took this route advise being prepared to describe your interests and what you have to offer.

What should I be looking for in an internship?

  • There is one primary identifying element that distinguishes an internship from all other types of employment: An internship, by definition, must include specific learning objectives. In other words, you are actively pursuing this option for senior seminar to gain knowledge, skill, and/or further understanding of a particular industry. Thus, you need to find someone or some organization that will allow you to actively participate in an authentic project or task and learn. You also must be able to work at least 52 hours over the course of a single semester.

Can I participate in an internship but not take the class?

  • Sure, the internship is a great experience! However, the academy distinction is tied to enrollment in/completion of at least one of the senior seminar courses. So you must complete the course to be eligible for an academy distinction.


  • Check with your academy administrator for questions not covered in the FAQ.
  • One option is through the Career and Technical Education Department. These are for students who have completed at least two courses in one of three specific pathways: Business, Engineering, or Computer Science. The internship courses through CTE are double blocked, year-long courses with required pre-requisites. 
  • The second option is through the senior seminar elective course with no pre-requisite. This weighted elective can be taken either for one semester or a full year. Students interested in participating in an on-campus internship are scheduled into this course during a period mutually decided upon with the AHS internship host and the intern. Students participating in off-campus internships would be scheduled into the senior seminar elective course with one of the senior seminar facilitators.