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Homeschool Course Descriptions



Homeschool Course Descriptions


The words course descriptions can be a bit disconcerting for a homeschool mom.  Creating those descriptions is not as difficult as it first may seem.  Let me show you the steps on how to write homeschool course descriptions.


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~ Transcript verses Course Descriptions ~


A course description is essentially a brief statement about the content of a course.  A transcript is a glimpse of what classes your child has taken and what grades he or she received.  Course descriptions provide more information for the college admission personnel and will help your child stand out from the other applicants.

Not all colleges want course descriptions.  A few of them only require a transcript, while others want a short description of content for each course and a transcript.  In view of the fact most freshman and sophomore students do not know where they will attend college, it is best to begin writing the course descriptions when the student is in the ninth grade.  It is no fun to create course descriptions for a student’s four years of high school in a few days time.


~ Basic Components of Course Descriptions ~


There are two basic components required for creating course descriptions.  Those are the course title and a brief statement about the content of the course.

Be precise when selecting course titles.  English 10 is not as descriptive as American Literature and Composition.  The same applies to Social Studies II.  A better title is Ancient World History.  Another example is Introduction to Entrepreneurship rather than Basic Business Skills.

A course description for American Literature and Composition might look like this:

American Literature and Composition is an overview study of the major literary works from the Colonial era to the present. The genre of the literary works consists of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and plays.  Interpretation of the literary works is expressed through writing a variety of essays and completing a research paper.

A number of vendors offer course descriptions on their websites.  Math-U-See is one of those.  Here is the description for PreCalculus:

“Math-U-See PreCalculus combines classic trigonometry with the advanced algebra needed for calculus and other courses. Topics include trig ratios, trigonometric identities, laws of trigonometry, radian measure, polar equations, functions and their graphs, sequences and series, and limits.”


~ Go Beyond the Basics ~


Providing a bit more information will make the course descriptions stand out even more.  There are 3 benefits of doing so:

  • It will certainly help you with building your child’s portfolio.
  • Information is readily available upon the college’s request.
  • It may help determine whether the college decides to offer your child a scholarship or not.


~ 4 Additional Components of Course Descriptions ~


Learning Objectives

This is basically the expectations of what the student is to learn from the course. Here is an example of the learning objectives for an American Literature and Composition course: 

  1. The student will become familiar with various literary works.
  2. The student will enlarge his critical thinking skills and vocabulary.
  3. The student will enhance his research and writing skills.


This is where you include a brief summary of the course assignments.  You will not include the detailed lesson plans.  For example:

American Literature and Composition course assignments include daily reading, biweekly essays, biweekly exams, and a research paper.

Note:  You may combine the course description, learning objectives, and assignments into one paragraph.

Texts Utilized

List all the materials utilized during the course.  If you use a textbook, be sure to include the author, publisher, and copyright date.


Lastly, you will include the grade the student received and how he/she received it.


~ Completed Course Description Sample ~


Let’s put all this together so you may see what a complete course description for American Literature and Composition might look like.  Please note the texts utilized are a sample and not a complete list.  


American Literature and Composition


~ American Literature and Composition ~


American Literature and Composition is an overview study of the major literary works from the Colonial era to the present. The student will become familiar with different genre of the literary works consisting of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and plays.  The student will increase his critical thinking and vocabulary as he analyzes the readings. The student will interpret the literary works through daily reading, writing a variety of essays, written exams, and completing a research paper.

Texts Utilized

Of Plimoth Plantations by William Bradford

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Walden by Henry David Thoreau




15% of Grade


25% of Grade


30% of Grade

Research Paper

30% of Grade

Final Grade

Grading Scale

Semester 1






A = 90-100% = 4.0

Semester 2





B = 80-89% = 3.0


C = 70-79% = 2.0

 (Sorry.  The table did not copy well.)



~ Final Thoughts ~

I hope this has helped to make course descriptions less confusing.  It may seem awkward when you first write them but it will soon become easier.  Reading homeschool and college catalogs are handy in preparing homeschool course descriptions.  


Angie McFarren, Homeschool Consultant


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Angie McFarren

Angie McFarren is a homeschool mom of 1 high school student and graduated another who is now attending college. She has homeschooled them since they were in K and Pre-K. Angie is passionate about homeschooling and enjoys Helping Other Parents Educate. She is a Homeschool Consultant and the author of Educate the Home Educator Crash Course. Angie is also on the See the Light Art Curriculum team.


  1. Is that for Stobaugh literature? If so, can I use your course description?

  2. Hi Samantha!

    Not necessarily. Check the book to see if it aligns with the description. Yes, you may use it. 🙂


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