High School Diploma Test Online: Overview of Requirements

Adults who'd like to return to school and earn a high school diploma might find it easiest to pursue one online. Here's some help on how to find the right program and avoid illegitimate scams. View article »

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  • 0:02 Earning a High School…
  • 0:58 Educational Prerequisites
  • 1:21 Program Structure
  • 2:33 Requirements

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Video Transcript

Earn a High School Diploma Online

Program Level High school equivalency
Prerequisites Varies by school; some have no prerequisites while others may require you to be 18 or older and not have access to a traditional high school program
Online Availability Programs are available online; verify a program's legitimacy before enrolling; look for .edu sites or see if a online program is available from a local school or university
Program Length Varies by program
Graduation Requirements Vary by program; some require minimum coursework and grades; some require a passing score on a comprehensive exam

Those wishing to earn a high school diploma online can look to postsecondary institutions to do so. Many colleges and universities offer high school education programs that culminate in a high school diploma. Some programs also help students enroll in college courses, undergraduate certificate programs or degree programs after completing the diploma.

To avoid falling victim to illegitimate online high school diploma programs, students should either contact schools directly or narrow their Web searches by adding 'site:.edu' to the search term, which sets the search filter to show only educational sites. Many programs also recommend that prospective students look for online diploma programs at local schools first, even if they wish to take courses online. This way, administrative tasks can be done in person if needed, and students can take advantage of in-state tuition.

Educational Prerequisites

Many programs have no prerequisites and are open to all ages and educational levels. However, some programs are designed specifically for working adults who do not have access to traditional high school programs. For this reason, some programs require students to be at least 18 years of age and have a standard level of competency in areas like math, science, social studies and language arts.

Program Structure

Curricula in online high school diploma courses nearly always reflect the curriculum standards of the state in which the school operates. This is because, like any other educational program, online high school diploma programs must be accredited by state education boards. Programs are usually structured in a semester format, quarterly format or a flexible format that allows students to study on their own time.

With a few exceptions, courses are taught by certified teachers who communicate with students via discussion boards, video and audio conferences, phone calls, e-mail or chat rooms. Students turn in assignments and take tests in electronic formats. In most cases, teachers provide individual feedback and one-on-one instruction much like they would in a traditional classroom.

Because many programs accommodate adults with full-time jobs, military personnel or other people with considerable skills, programs often offer advanced placement classes or classes awarding dual credit. Students who may be eligible for these classes should speak with a counselor. Likewise, most programs realize some students are not as prepared as others and offer remedial learning classes as well.


In order to earn the diploma, students are usually required to complete a minimum number of courses and earn a minimum GPA. Some programs also institute a required distribution of classes; for example, a student may be required to take four semesters of math, up to algebra, and four semesters of a foreign language. While sometimes students must a take a comprehensive exam at the culmination of the program, some programs do not require it.

Online high school diploma programs are available at many different colleges and universities. Students can find a schedule and format that works for them.

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