Earning a high school diploma takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication. It's an important document that acknowledges the student met all of the necessary requirements for graduation. The type of coursework completed will dictate what type of diploma a graduate will receive. When a graduate receives her high school diploma it can lead to acceptance to their dream college or trade school, or it can open the door to her first job.

Honors Diploma

An honors diploma indicates a high level of academic achievement. The requirements for receiving an honors diploma vary but generally include higher level classes, such as foreign languages and honors or advanced placement courses. The guidance department at your school can advise you of requirements necessary to earn an honors diploma.

General Diploma

Most high-school graduates receive a general diploma. A general diploma indicates that the graduate has met the basic graduation requirements established by your state's department of education. These requirements commonly include at least three years of science, math, history and English, along with an assortment of electives.

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Occupational Diploma

Students who participate in a vocational program receive an occupational diploma. A vocational program allows a student to not only focus on general subjects like general math, English and science, but it also provides them with the opportunity to focus on classes to help develop their vocational skills. Vocational schools allow students to earn credits in cosmetology, automotive repair and more. This diploma indicates the successful completion of a job preparation program. Many skilled trade industries accept an occupational diploma as an indication that the graduate has the skills necessary to obtain an entry level position in the field. Some vocational programs offer industry-recognized certifications along with the general occupational diploma that they receive from their home high school.

Certificate of Attendance

Special education students may earn a certificate of attendance. This type of diploma is awarded to students who, because of a recognized disability, are unable to complete the standard program required to earn a general diploma. The requirements for earning a certificate of attendance vary from student to student and depend largely upon the student's level of functioning and academic abilities.

Graduate Equivalency Degree

Students who fail to finish a traditional high school course of study can still earn a general equivalency diploma, or GED. To obtain a GED, students attend and complete an approved GED course and pass a state GED exam. GED exams are intended to indicate that the graduate has knowledge equivalent to that of a student who completed a high school program. Many students who drop out of school select the GED route instead of returning to a traditional high school program.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.