Need help fitting orchestra in your schedule? You’re in the right place.

We know it can be difficult to take orchestra alongside all of the other courses that you need and want to take. If you want to take orchestra for all four years (something which you by no means are required to do), you will need to be creative in how you structure your course load. On this page, you will find information about graduation requirements, summer courses, and the all-important four-year plan.

The Four-Year Plan

The four year plan is a worksheet provided by the school to help you plan your four years at TJ. This will help you ensure you’re meeting your graduation requirements and senior research lab requirements. If you want to do orchestra for four years, you 100% should fill this out for your own benefit.

Also linked are the course catalog and the TJ website’s academics section.

Sample Plans

The four-year plans of seniors/alumni who have done four years of orchestra. Even if you plan on doing the same lab as one, you don’t need to follow it exactly.


Have questions? Ask Ms. Bailey and she can provide information and connect you to seniors who have done four years of orchestra!

Important Scheduling Considerations

Graduation Requirements

Due to TJ’s unique curriculum, there are a number of graduation requirements that students have to schedule themselves intentionally.

  • Three sequential world language credits in the same language. You meet this requirement if you take three levels of a language. For example: German 1, German 2, and German 3. Note that if you took a level 1 language in middle school outside of FCPS, you may have to take a placement test.
  • One additional credit of a non-AP social studies course. Courses that fill the requirement are below.
    • Semester courses (½ credit): Ethical Leadership, 20th Century World History, Psychology: Brain and Behavior, Inquiry into Ideas, Religious Studies, Anthropology Studies, America and the World Since 1989, Law and Society. (All of these courses save for Ancient Civ are not open for incoming freshmen.
    • Year-long courses (1 credit): World History/Geography 1, US VA History (only junior year), African American History (note that this is not weighted as an honors class).
  • One credit of Economics and Personal Finance. This is an online course that you can register for during the summer and during the school year. AP Macro/Micro also meets this requirement.
  • One credit of CS before junior year. You need to take one CS course before junior year. This will likely be Foundations or Accelerated Foundations, and you have the option of taking it in the summer. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to take CS freshman year. There are many people who take Foundations CS over the summer or in sophomore year.
  • One credit of AP Calculus AB or BC. You will likely meet this requirement.
  • One credit of a Fine Art/CTE or fourth world language. Orchestra meets this requirement.

Senior Lab Requirements

Each senior lab has certain prerequisites. We have listed them here, along with the prerequisites for the prerequisites. Keep in mind that these represent the bare minimum needed for the labs listed, and there are many other recommended courses (see this page)

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics has no prerequisites.
  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences requires DNA Science I, which requires Chemistry 1
  • Chemical Analysis and Nanochemistry has no prerequisites.
  • Computer Systems requires AP Computer Science with Data Structures which requires Foundations Computer Science
  • Combined Engineering Research Lab requires any two engineering/tech electives.
  • Microelectronics requires Adv. Analog Electronics and Adv. Digital Electronics
  • Mobile/Web Development requires AP Computer Science with Data Structures which requires Foundations Computer Science
  • Neuroscience has multiple pathways or “tracks” to get in:
    • Biology Track: AP Biology (requires Biology 1) and Neurobiology (requires AP Biology)
    • Artificial Intelligence Track: AP Calculus BC (requires Math 5), AI 1 (requires AP CS with Data Structures), and AI 2 (requires AI 2).
    • Automation Track: AP Calculus BC (requires Math 5), Automation and Robotics 1 and 2.
  • Oceanography and Geophysical Systems requires Advanced Marine Biology.
  • Quantum Physics & Optics requires AP Physics C which requires AP Calculus BC as a pre- or co-requisite.

Summer School

TJ offers certain courses over the summer (currently in-person). Since summer school information changes frequently, the TJ website is the main source for summer school information.