For varying reasons, some people do not complete high school in the traditional, four-year setting. Without a high school diploma, many employers will not hire you, and being accepted to a college or university is difficult or impossible in some cases. Luckily, there are adult high school diploma options available.

Adult High School Diploma

A high school diploma is earned by completing the high school graduation requirements of a specific state, which usually takes four years. An adult high school diploma can take anywhere from a few weeks or months to several years to earn, depending on the individual.

Adult High School Diploma Vs. GED

Contrary to what people may assume, an adult high school diploma and a GED are not the same thing. A GED, or General Equivalency Diploma, is earned by successfully completing a series of tests based on the standard high school curriculum. These tests usually take several hours to complete. While a GED may take less time to earn, it is important to keep in mind that a GED is not recognized by all employers, colleges, and universities as the equivalent of a high school diploma in terms of hiring and admission.

Traditional Classes

Many community colleges, charter schools and high schools offer state-accredited classes designed to equip students with the knowledge they need to successfully pass the necessary exams and complete the requirements for earning an adult high school diploma for their state. These classes are often taught in the evenings, and accelerated programs are available in some cases for adults who have partially completed some of their high school graduation requirements prior to enrollment.

Online Classes

Online adult high school diploma classes are an alternative option and allow students to learn at their own pace, and at times that are convenient for them. When choosing an online class, it is important to make sure that it has been accredited by the state from which you wish to receive your diploma; otherwise, your completed coursework will not be recognized as valid and your diploma will not be issued.


Obtaining an adult high school diploma opens the doors to many career and educational-advancement opportunities. When deciding whether or not this is a good option for you, be sure to research the high school graduation requirements for your state, as well as any preparation course you are considering.

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