What it means
A student has met all the requirements for graduation.
A student has completed high school but didn’t meet all the requirements for graduation.
What are the graduation requirements
To earn a diploma, a student typically must pass grade-level English, math, social studies, science, and other classes. The number and type of class credits required vary by state.
Some states also require a student to pass a high school exit exam to get a diploma.
It depends on the state and school. Unlike a diploma, the requirements are often flexible and can be tied to a student’s IEP goals.
Curriculum modifications allowed
Maybe. By changing what students learn, modifications can hurt their ability to earn a high school diploma.
Accepted by the military
Accepted by colleges
Maybe. It depends on the college.
Eligible for federal student aid for college
Accepted by employers
Maybe. It depends on the employer and the job qualifications.
Similar high school credentials
- GED certificate: This isn’t the same as a high school diploma. However, a GED is usually accepted by the military, colleges, and employers in place of a high school diploma.
- Vocational diploma: A diploma for a student who achieved the required technical skills for a certain job.
- Honors diploma: A special high school diploma for a student who achieved a high academic level. This usually means earning a high grade-point average or passing advanced tests.
- IEP or special education diploma: This kind of diploma is available for a student with an IEP (though many students with IEPs earn regular diplomas). It has the same impact on a student’s future as a high school certificate.
- Certificate of Attendance, Certificate of Completion, or Certificate of Achievement: Different names for a certificate.