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What Are the Different Types of High School Diplomas?

By: Jordin Frey

A high school diploma or high school degree is a diploma awarded upon finishing and graduating from high school. But did you know that there is more than one type of high school degree you can get? Many students don’t know that there are different types of high school diploma. Some types are much more common than others. For students who struggle in school, a different type of high school program might be a good choice. We’re here to help you figure out which high school diploma is right for you. Understanding the choices available to you is the first step.

General Diploma

The general diploma is the most common type of high school diploma or degree. This high school degree type is given to students who have met standard graduation requirements. Diploma requirements may be different from state to state. In general, it requires three years of classes in English, math, science, history, and a variety of electives.

Honors Diploma

An honors diploma means that the student performed very well in their classes. In addition to the requirements of the general diploma, the honors diploma also requires students to take and pass more advanced classes. As with the general diploma, the requirements can differ in each state. Students usually need to take a foreign language and complete four years of the other core subjects, while maintaining a certain grade point average (GPA).

Certificate of Attendance

A certificate of attendance is usually given to students with severe learning disabilities. Because of their disability, these students cannot meet the requirements of a general diploma. The requirements for this certificate are outlined for each student based on their disability, abilities, and personalized goals.

Occupational Diploma

An occupational diploma is given to students who complete a career-focused program. Occupational diplomas typically require classes in English, math, science, history, and career focused classes.  An occupational diploma is earned through a program that focuses on developing skills that will help students enter the workforce. Many skilled trade jobs accept an occupational diploma as proof that the graduate has the skills to obtain an entry level position in the field.  However, colleges may not accept this diploma for college entry.


Graduate Equivalency Degree

A graduate equivalency degree (GED) is a certificate earned by people who did not complete high school. To earn a GED, students must complete a GED course and pass a state-approved exam. This certificate shows that the student has the same knowledge as someone with a general high school diploma. Although, a diploma is generally preferred by employers and colleges.