How To Get a Copy of Your High School Diploma

Instructor: Jessica Keys
You may need to obtain a copy of your diploma to prove to colleges or employers that you've completed a high school education. But where do you go and who is the best person to contact? This article will explain the most common procedures, as well as what to do for unusual circumstances.

First Things First: Verify Employer or College Requirements

Bear in mind that a high school diploma is not the same thing as a high school transcript. In many cases, a diploma does not count as the official academic record of your high school education, though it does prove you graduated. Unless you are looking for a replacement diploma for personal reasons (e.g. your diploma was lost or damaged), it may be good to double-check if you are actually being asked to submit an official high school transcript.

Contact Your High School

Many public schools and school districts have a website containing information on how to obtain records like diplomas and transcripts. If your school or district does not have a website, you can contact your high school by phone or even in person; the staff in the main office (or registrar's office) should be able to point you in the right direction.

If you are having difficulty locating the school, the National Center for Education Statistics website has a public and private school database that will allow you to search for your school by name, location, grade level, religious affiliation and more.

Submit Required Documentation

Every school district will vary on the steps you need to take to get a replacement diploma. Since this is an official document, you will likely have to provide a copy of your ID, some personal information and a signature, which means filling out a form by hand and mailing it to the instructed address. You may also have to pay an additional fee for printing your new diploma. Note that since you will be receiving a new, personalized document, it may take several weeks to process. If time is of the essence, do not wait until the last minute!

Understand What to Do in Alternate Situations

Some districts do not issue replacement diplomas. Rather, they will offer a transcript and/or letter of verification, which confirms where and when you attended high school. This may be your best (or only) option, but make sure that it will suffice for your purposes. Get in touch with the party requesting the diploma (e.g. a college admissions officer or employer) and ask what the preferred option would be in this case.

If your school has closed or if your school district has changed and you are not sure who to contact, you will need to begin your search with the Department of Education in the relevant state. They will be able to tell you what became of your school district or institution and who to contact about accessing older or closed school records.

What NOT to Do

While the option can be tempting and seem a lot easier than going through the rigmarole of obtaining an official diploma from a school system, do not buy a phony or forged high school diploma! There are a lot of websites out there that sell fake school documents, often as 'novelty' diplomas or transcripts. You can land in some hot water if it's discovered that you submitted a false document. (Think getting fired or expelled - it's even illegal in some places.) Also, many of these websites are not secure and contain dangerous malware.

These fakes can end up costing far more than the real thing on many levels. It's just not worth the risk.

Take Advantage of Additional Resources

If you have recently earned your high school diploma or equivalent, you may be wondering about what steps you should take next. Are you interested in college? Or maybe you're considering going into a certain career, but you're not sure if it's right for you? Take a look at's helpful guidance courses on:

All courses are divided into short, fun lessons that allow you to study at your own pace, on your own time!

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