A diploma is a document that bears record of the completion of a course of study. If you’re wondering whether your homeschooled student can receive a high school diploma, the answer is yes! As the parent, you prescribe your child’s course of study and you can present a diploma that indicates he or she has successfully completed it.

Will the local public school issue a diploma for my student?

In all likelihood, no. Even if you homeschool under the oversight of your local school district, you should not expect the public school to issue a diploma to your child.

Where do I get a diploma?

A blank diploma can be purchased from some retailers and organizations (including HSLDA) or downloaded from the internet (make sure copyright laws are not violated). The diploma is not valid until signed by the person who verifies that the student finished the prescribed course of study.

Can I make my own diploma?

Yes, but bear in mind, a diploma that looks like it was prepared by an amateur may not make the desired impression. When creating a diploma, include at minimum the following items:

  1. statement that it is a high school diploma;
  2. name of student;
  3. statement that the student finished the program of secondary education required of him or her;
  4. signature of the person who verifies that the student finished the program; and
  5. date the diploma was issued or signed.

What should I write on the diploma?

Here is sample wording for your consideration:

This certifies that John Smith has completed the course of study prescribed for graduation by his parents, Joseph and Mary Smith [or: by Smith Home School].

In testimony whereof, this diploma is conferred, and we have subscribed our names on the third day of the month of June, in the year 2020.

Who must sign the diploma?

Because the diploma attests to the fact that the student finished his or her high school program, it should be signed by someone who exercised authority over the high school program and who has verified that the student successfully completed it. In the case of a homeschooled student, one or both parents are generally the appropriate people to sign. If the family is enrolled in an oversight or umbrella group and the group desires to sign, the diploma can be signed by one parent and the group director. If a school is issuing the diploma, a school official will sign it.

Can I sign the diploma even if I did not personally teach all my child’s classes?

Yes. For a homeschooled student, the parent oversees the high school program. Only the parent knows if the student truly accomplished what was required. Even if people outside the family taught the student, the parent still knows if the student accomplished what was required in those classes.

Must my student comply with state or school district requirements in order to receive a diploma?

In most states, parents are under no duty to follow the public school standards for graduation, and parents can decide what course of study their teen must complete to receive a diploma. A few states have high school graduation requirements in their homeschool laws. Read your state’s law to see if there are any graduation requirements that apply to you; HSLDA members, contact us if you have further questions.

Should I skip the diploma and have my child take a GED test instead?

A general equivalency diploma (GED) is a substitute for a diploma; it is not a diploma. A person can obtain a GED without spending a day of his or her life in school. Many colleges and employers treat a GED about the same as they do a diploma. However, if a student has a GED, some colleges and employers may assume the student did not have what it takes to finish high school. If your student successfully completed a program of secondary education, he or she deserves a diploma to prove it.