How Does a Homeschooler Get a Diploma?

high school graduate hugging mom with diploma


When it comes to homeschooling, parents of high school students often wonder how their homeschooled students will get a diploma. They also may wonder if a diploma is necessary in order to attend college, get a job, and even join the military.

The good news is that many traditionally homeschooled students get a diploma from their parents, which is often accepted by most colleges and universities.

For students who attend an online homeschool or take courses through an umbrella school or correspondence school, they typically get their diplomas from that institution. But as for receiving a diploma from the school district in which your homeschooled student lives—that rarely happens.

Understanding Your State's Laws

It's always a good idea to check your state's laws and regulations regarding homeschooling, not just regarding diplomas, but also to be sure you are following all their guidelines, especially with regards to high school courses and requirements.

In fact, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provides state-by-state information on homeschooling laws, guidelines, and regulations.

For instance, some states have specific graduation requirements, even for homeschooled students. In these situations, once your student has completed the graduation requirements, they have earned their diploma.

If your state doesn't have specific graduation requirements, you probably have a lot of freedom to create your own. Consequently, your requirements should be based on your child's abilities, interests, and future career goals.

What You Need to Know

Overall, a high school diploma is an official document awarded by a school indicating that the student has successfully completed the necessary requirements for graduation. Even though homeschools are usually not accredited like many public and private schools, this fact usually doesn't negatively impact a student's college or career goals.

In fact, many homeschooled students are admitted to colleges and universities and can even earn scholarships. But if you really want your homeschooled student to have an accredited diploma, you could look into an online school or distance learning program.

Keep in mind that many colleges and universities are actively looking for homeschool graduates and often appreciate a non-traditional approach to school.

In fact, many homeschooled students are recognized as high-achieving students and are actively recruited by schools such as MIT, Harvard, Duke, and Stanford. In these instances, colleges and universities are more interested in what your student knows than a piece of paper indicating that they graduated.

Still, be sure you are aware of the admission requirements for the colleges and universities your student is interested in. And, if your student is interested in joining the military immediately after graduation, you may want to talk with a recruiter to determine if your student will need a diploma from an accredited institution. If this is the case, you may want to consider having your student supplement their homeschool education with a few courses from a local community college.

It's also important to note that your homeschool student will not need to get a GED. When students get these tests, admissions officers, employers, and military recruiters might assume that your student dropped out of high school instead of graduating from a homeschooling environment.

Why a Transcript Is More Important

Even though parents are usually most concerned about getting a diploma, a transcript is usually much more important than a diploma. This documentation shows what coursework your student completed and what grades they received in each course.

Keep in mind, transcripts are requested by more than just colleges. Many times, employers, the military, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, and scholarship committees also may request a copy of your student's transcript. Even your insurance company may want a copy of the transcript in order to make sure your student qualifies for a good student discount.

Ideally, you have been keeping track of their courses and grades throughout their schooling. After all, creating a transcript during their senior year can be a daunting task. So, make sure you keep track of grades and courses and add those to their transcript document each year.

You also may want to keep a separate document with course descriptions in case it's ever requested by a future employer or university. This document should contain the name of each course as well as the materials used to complete it, including textbooks, websites, online courses, lab materials, internships, and hands-on experiences.

To put together your student's transcript, you can design and print the document using a template from HSLDA, or you can use a transcript service. Additionally, HSLDA has educational consultants that help you put together your student's transcript and even check GPA calculations. Overall, your child's transcript should include the following information:

  • Your student's name, the name of your homeschool, address, and telephone number
  • The high school course list in order by year (grades 9-12); include grades 7 and 8 if your student took high school level courses in those grades
  • The institution where each course was taken (i.e. homeschool, online school, community college)
  • The grading scale used in your homeschool
  • The overall GPA
  • Credits assigned per course (listed by semester and per year)
  • Expected graduation date
  • Parent signature with a date

And, if your student took classes at a community college or local university, you want to be sure to request copies of those transcripts as well. You can have them sent to the prospective college, employer, or military recruiter who requested the transcripts along with your homeschool transcript.

Other Important Considerations

It's important that your high school graduate understand how to fill out job and college applications with regard to homeschooling. For instance:

  • When they are asked, "Are you a high school graduate?" they mark "yes."
  • When they are asked, "Do you have a high school diploma," they should indicate "yes" on that question as well.
  • When they are asked, "Name of high school," they can either write "homeschooled" or they can indicate the name of their school if your family named the homeschool.

Likewise, if your student intends to apply to college after graduation, it's important that they are able to show college readiness. This can be accomplished through standardized testing such as the ACT and the SAT.

It also can be demonstrated through outside experiences such as internships, volunteer work, entrepreneurial experiences, and so on. Remember, colleges and universities are most interested in what your student knows as well as whether or not they can handle the coursework the university provides.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you're currently homeschooling your child or planning to embark on homeschooling in the future, the most important thing you can do to prepare for this educational journey is to familiarize yourself with your state's laws and regulations regarding homeschooling. This information provides a foundation for how you will pursue homeschooling with your student.

Likewise, you also should research the colleges and universities your student is most interested in attending. Knowing their admission requirements ahead of time can help you tailor your student's experience accordingly. And as for a diploma, if you plan to issue your own, the HSLDA has several templates that you might find useful.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. HSLDA. Diploma FAQ's.

  2. HSLDA. Why every teen needs a transcript - and how to get one.

  3. HSLDA. What information goes on my high schooler's transcript?.

  4. College Board. Homeschooled students.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.