GED vs. High School Diploma: What’s the Difference?

A high school diploma signifies high school graduation. It shows you attended and passed all the required classes in a traditional high school setting.

The GED credential is a high school equivalency diploma. It shows you passed four high school equivalency tests, demonstrating you have the same knowledge as a traditional high school graduate.

Perhaps the time requirement is the key difference in the GED vs. high school diploma question. Traditional high school students typically need four years to complete classes and graduate. The GED is a 7-hour test. For most people, preparing for it takes less than a year. In most states, you can take the GED tests any time after age 16.

As you can see, the difference between a diploma and a GED is not significant. Both allow students to join the workforce, launch a career, or attend college.

Is a GED Equivalent to a Diploma?

Most colleges and employers see the GED and a high school diploma as the same. Just under 100% of U.S. schools accept the GED, including community colleges, private secondary or technical institutes, and universities.

Coupling your GED with a decent ACT or SAT score will improve your chances of getting accepted into a top school. Or, you can bypass other standardized tests with a GED College-Ready score, awarded to those who earn a high score on their GED tests.

Because the GED is equivalent to a high school diploma, in addition to using it to register for college, you can also use it to apply for a job.

Many employers view these achievements equally when it comes to a GED vs. a high school diploma, and getting a GED can lead to a higher salary. Many GED graduates can make around $8,500 more annually than those without a GED or diploma.

Which Option Is Best for You?

What’s the difference between a high school diploma vs. GED? And which should you pursue? Both choices open up possibilities for a higher salary, additional education, and professional advancement.

High school diplomas can provide excellent preparation for an entry-level job or college studies. It’s an ideal option for those with the time and whose personal life situations make it possible to attend.

However, some students may need to leave high school for many reasons, including family obligations. In those instances, a GED may be the best option.

What Is a GED?

The General Educational Development Test consists of four subject tests that, once passed, earn you a high school equivalency credential. The four subjects are language arts, math, social studies, and science.

Does this sound familiar? If so, it’s because they’re subjects commonly taught in high school. You will have earned your credential after you successfully pass these four exams. What does this do? It proves you have a grade 12 education—even without a traditional diploma.

How Did the GED Get Started?

The American Council on Education developed the GED in the 1940s to help veterans who had joined the military without finishing high school. Passing the test allowed them access to colleges or jobs requiring a high school diploma. In the 80 years since, millions of Americans have earned their GEDs, including many celebrities.

Explore the Benefits of Earning Your GED

Now that you know the difference between a GED vs. diploma, which option is right for you? makes it easy to work toward earning your GED with online resources, study guides, progress goals, practice tests, and more. Learn more about the benefits of earning your GED and how to get your GED as an adult today.


  1. Hi my name is Meena Dokmai. I am living in Hawaii and I just pass the last test for the GED today so I was wondering if they have the graduation ceremony or do they just mail me the GED transcript?

    1. Hi Meena! If you attended an adult education center you can reach out to them and see if they have a graduation ceremony. We will also have a virtual celebration for all GED graduates this spring so watch out for emails about that!

    2. Hi Meena hope your good, would you mind sending me a message on my email to explain to me how I should register to a GED certificate ? thank you in advance and good luck for you.

      1. First thing to learn when writing some is to learn to use you’re properly instead of your.

    1. Hi Erika! Yes you can take the GED. We suggest looking for an adult education center near you to help with your preparation for the GED. For more information please email

  2. After passing all GED tests, do you get a certificate similar to a HS diploma or is the transcript sufficient enough to show a potential school or employer.
    What happens if you lose proof that you completed the GED. Where do you acquire a copy of it. The GED was done in the state of PA

    1. Hi Makalina! Yes you will get a transcript that is sufficient to show schools and employers. If you lose proof that you completed your GED, you can email and they will assist you in getting a copy of your transcript.

  3. Dear GED Testing Service,

    Hope this mail finds you well.
    I’m Hilda, I used to lived in San Francisco CA.
    I attended GED classes and I passed two of the subjects test already. But unfortunately I have to move with my family to Asia. Is it possible for me to take the other two subjects test online?

    Thank you
    Best regards.
    Hilda Ichioka

    1. Hi Ichioka! We want to help you finish your GED. Unfortunately we do not allow students to take the actual test online, but we do offer the GED in Asian countries. Please email and they can provide you with more information on relocating and testing internationally.

    1. Hi Jazmín! You should be able to get your GED depending on what state you’re testing in. Please email for more information on how to get started or click here to learn more about testing in a specific state.

  4. Hi, I completed (Graduated) from high school I earned high school Certificate of Attendance and completion it didn’t counted as diploma or Equivalent to diploma I was not meeting requirements for high school Diploma and I could able earn GED Credential more benefits than the High School Certificate a non-credential because I Was a Special education Outside a General Education requirements for Diploma for the office jobs

  5. Hola, mi nombre es Adán, vivo en the bronx new York , soy ciudadano pero viví todo el tiempo en mexico y allí terminé mis estudios de secundaria y 1 año de hig school , y tengo ganas de seguir con ello , mi pregunta es ¿ yo puedo hacer un g.e.d y que tomen en cuenta mi constancia de secundaria en México?

  6. I am 19 years old, I only went to high school till my sophomore year was complete, I missed my junior/senior of high school. Can I still get my GED? Or do I have to complete my junior year of high school in able to get my GED.

  7. Hi
    I’m nasro I did my highschool in kenya but wanted to get my ged since i came back to the states . I was wondering are the actual tests different then those of normal highschools like are they set differently or should I start memorizing everything right away .Thank you

      1. You forgot writing skills or did they change that? I earned my GED in 1987 when I was 19 I had to leave HS two months into my senior year in November and passed the GED Exam in March of 87.

  8. Hello my name Antonio Pineda 51 years old i coming for other country Mexico University grade and live Arizona for 20 years is possible take this test o what’s is you suggesting. Thank you

    1. Hi Antonio! You should be able to take the test. For more information you can create a free account at and get started!

  9. Hi, i have a few questions :
    1) is it possible to do GED after GCSC ( grade 10-11 in the British System)?
    2) if so what happens if you don’t pass GCSC exams ? Can you still attempt GED? Or do you have to have certain grades or qualifications before you do GED?
    3) are there any schools that offer GED in Dubai or Singapore?

    1. Hi Amna! Depending on your age you should still be able to take the GED. We offer the GED internationally, for more info click here.

  10. Hey my name is ray and I was wondering if I got my ged before the year I was suposed to graduate.. can I go to the high school ceremony like I would have been able to if I was in school

    1. Hi Rayawna! You would need to contact the high school that you graduated from or the adult education center you attended. Thank you!

      1. Hi my name is Hussain. I was wondering if you could help me on my question.
        I have done my high school abroad if I move to USA do I still need to do GED?

        1. Hi Hussain. Some jobs and universities might require that you get your GED.

  11. Hi. My name is Ingmar.
    I wanted to check if I’m able to go to the Netherlands with my ged (still in progress of getting it). If so which school am I able to enter.

    1. Hi Ingmar! You’d need to contact the schools themselves in the Netherlands to find out if they accept the GED diploma. Thank you!

  12. Hello there ,
    I am from Sri lanaka, i would like to follow engineering bachelors in monash university Australia, will ged considered as the entry requirement ?

    1. Hi Shylajan! You’ll need to contact the university you want to attend in Australia to see if they accept the GED. Thank you!

  13. Hi my name is Marvin I was wondering if I can get a GED even tho I don’t speak English at all or I need some English and ESOL class credits to take GED

    1. Hi Marvin! We offer the GED in English and Spanish. If you speak neither language you will need to ESL classes to be able to pass the GED. Email with further questions. Thank you!

  14. What is the difference between receiving a diploma for GED versus just receiving the transcripts?

    1. Hi Ace! A transcript shows your educational record including your GED test scores. If you’re applying to colleges they will ask for your transcript for proof that you passed and earned the scores need to for entrance. A GED diploma just signifies that you have earned your GED degree. Thank you!

    2. Hi my name is tim, i am studying for the GED test, but unfortunately I don’t live in the us, currently i live in guatemala, is it possible to get the tast from here?

      1. Hi Tim! We have had testers in Guatemala who were able to take their GED. Please create an account and once scheduling your test you should be able to find a location in Guatemala. If you have any other questions, please email

  15. Hi my name is Michelle I’m 16 years old I just finished 1year of high school Can I apply to get a ged

  16. Hello! I have a quick question. I plan on taking my GED within the next few days and I noticed that there is a BETA option for taking the GED online at home. I was wondering if this is the same as taking it in person or if it is worth less, so to say. Also, do we get a diploma after we pass our GED? Thank you!

    1. Hey Hena! Taking the GED online is not worth less than taking it in-person. It is currently in beta though so if you’re just starting your GED you most likely do not qualify for online testing yet. You also do receive a diploma after you pass. For more info on online testing please email

  17. Thought you might like to hear this story. My mom was born in 1916. She quit HS to get a job because of family needs. I never knew this until the mid-60’s when I dropped out of college. My mom was very upset over this and confessed that she had never graduated HS. She was ashamed of this and never told anyone. Astonished, I said “well, get a GED!” She asked “What’s a GED?” So, I told her, thinking she’d never do it. But she did. She researched when and where etc and took the test. She later told me the administrator told her she had earned the highest score he had ever seen. I put her HS Diploma in her casket.

  18. Hi, I’m Andre and I recently moved to TX.
    I was studying abroad in Mexico and got Mexico’s high school diploma, my question is, is it better to validate that diploma or do I take the GED test instead?

    1. Hi Andre. That’s up to you but validating a current high school diploma may be quicker!

    1. Hi Mario. The GED is a high school equivalency test that can take anywhere from 3 months to a year to pass depending on how much time you have!

  19. Hello. I want to take the GED, but i have graduated high school in a british curriculum school Dubai. So i have done my IGCSEs (grade 11). Its been 4 years since (and i am 20 now), and i want to do the GED and use that to apply for college/university abroad in Canada. Am i applicable to do a GED?

    *was not specific, sorry. this is the corrected comment.

    1. Hi Syeda. Are you taking the GED in the United States or internationally?

    1. Hi Farid. Many countries around the world accept the GED as a high school equivalency diploma.

  20. Hi my name is Jade. I’m 15 years old. I’d like to get my Matric online and switch from public school to homeschooling. I’m under the impression that you can only get your Matric with GED. Is there any way I can take the GED test before I’m 17 and is it only one test or do I have to take a test for every year for example grade 10, 11 and 12?

  21. Hello there,
    I have dropped out recently from the two year IBDP diploma programme where i was able to finish only a year which makes me a 12 grade graduate and my dream is to attend a beauty college somewhere in Canada. So ,am i supposed to still get a GED to enroll into a beauty school or will it just be a waste of time because i heard getting a GED is equivalent to getting a 12 grade certificate.So should i take the GED or not?

    1. Hi Nasra. That is up to you. The GED is the equivalent to a high school diploma. If you already have a diploma and the Canadian beauty college you wish to attend accepts it, you will not need to take the GED.

  22. I went to high school in California. I met all graduation requirements but didn’t pass the cahsee. I’m really bad at tests. Would I be able to pass the ged?

    1. Hi Bert! The GED is a high school equivalency test that can help you get into universities around the world. We have many students who take the GED exam in South Africa and are successful. For more information, create a free account at

  23. I’m 16 I have a baby otw I don’t kno If I wan get everything over with and get my ged or finish my junior and senior years of high school my mom think I should do my ged

  24. I’m in 9th grade at a public american school. I’m wondering if I should get a high school diploma, dual-credit, or I should get this GED? I also plan on doing medicine when I leave school. One more detail is that when I’m 16 I want to get emancipated. What would you recommend are my best options.

  25. I’m Daniela.
    I got my accountant degree in my country (Argentina) 6 years ago.
    I live in US now, Do I need to get an GED diploma if I want to get a job?

    1. Hi Daniela! That really depends on the job you’re applying to. They may accept a foreign high school credential so you should discuss it with them. However, if they do not we suggest getting your GED.

  26. I’am 19 years old. I was supposed to graduate from high school last school year (2018-2019) but i didnt. I kinda just dropped out. I also live in British Columbia, Canada. I was wondering if its possible for me to register to get my GED through this school?

  27. I need to know more on the non tradtionial high school diploma and I wass told that 20 years ago in high school I had high SAT scores and my graduation exit exams.

  28. When do we get our GED diplomas once we pass the tests this fall? I am almost done and will be doing my last required test

    1. Hi Carrie! You can get started by creating a free account at From there you’ll find everything you need from test prep to being able to schedule your tests. Thanks!

  29. hello! i graduated high school and received my high school diploma (2020 grad) i also have taken the SAT and got a really good score! right now im in community college but i feel like im wasting my time and money here, my goal is to attend an art college but i heard that you have to complete 2 years of general education after high school graduation because it’s required for colleges… so im a little confused about this. is having a GED diploma necessary in order to go to a bigger college? because that’s the only reason why im in community college right now.

    1. Hi Karla! Over 97% of colleges in the U.S. accept the GED. This means with both your GED and SAT scores you should be allowed to enroll at the college you wish to attend. We suggest contacting them first to find out all of their requirements for enrollment, but your GED should be enough!

  30. I did graduate Bachelor of commerce 18 years back in India but i dont have any work experience due to personal reasons. How can i evaluate my education standard in here New York after so many gaps of my school?

  31. Hi I’m a 16 year old Junior and I’m studying for my GED. Is it worth it if I’m looking forward to getting in college earlier?

  32. Hi i want to know if there is anyway i can practice the GED before taking the test and if i need a highschool diploma to take it.

  33. Hi, I was wondering if you can take the GED test in a different state than your own….also, if you are able to take the test in different states, will the pricing be different or would it not change from the state your from?

    1. Hi Jacob! For more information create a free account at The length of time to get your diploma really depends on you, but on average it takes students about 3 months.

  34. Hi, I am from the Philippines currently working here in Hong Kong. I’ve been studying to take GED test this month. I’d like to know if I’ll be able to get GED diploma and transcript right after I get my results or will it take time? I want to enrol in college afterward. Thanks!

  35. Hi, I am 12 years old, and want to get the qualifications for my high school diploma without skipping any more grades, so that I can qualify for university courses. I am in Quebec. What can I do?

  36. HI, I am from africa i just want to ask if the GED is only for asian and us countries? can i take it in my country which is ethiopia

  37. Hey is it possible for a 17 year old to get their GED in the state of Arkansas, if you missed school for a year And if so, Is the GED test relatively easy? I would really appreciate the help.

  38. Hi
    If you drop out of highschool is a ged what you try and get so its easier to get jobs and live your life?

  39. Hi i’m currently 16 but notice i can’t really deal with high school at this moment. If i dropped out and got my ged. Would i be able to get my high school diploma later and what steps would i have to take to do that if possible?

  40. Hi! i dropped out of high school with 12 credits. I am now 24, should I try to get my diploma or would it be faster to get my GED? I really just want to get it all taken care of to start my career!

  41. Hi my name is Dillin and I come from South Africa, I am looking for a career in massage therapy, when I am finished with GED what else is required of me and will I be accepted in a technical school to do a training program on massage therapy?

    1. Hi Dillin. You’ll need to contact the school to see what other additional requirements they might have beyond the GED.

  42. My husband has a certificate of attendance. Should he take the GED? Its not the same right.

    1. Hi Kayla. This is not the same thing. The GED is a high school equivalency diploma.

  43. Thanks for sharing detail about high school diploma and GED, can you please elaborate how you grade.

  44. Hi, I want to ask until when this method of GED certificate is approved?
    I’m curious

  45. I’m from India and I have passed my high school examination there. But I passed in an entrance exam and I have an undergraduate degree in engineering. The thought of my marks in my high school still haunts me. Can I take the GED and the marks as an alternative?

    1. Hi Cody. You can take the GED as an equivalent to an American high school diploma.

  46. Hi
    i’m graduated from high-school in Iran(11 years of educations named as high school diploma) and educated a year of pre-university but not degreed(i passed 18 units of all 24 units). 12 years later i passed those 6 units in a distance-education school and graduated from pre-university. now i want to know in U.S law i count as a G.E.D graduated or a high-school degreed? if u can answer me it would be a great favor. (i want to immigrate to U.S as a DV-Lottery winner)

    1. Hi Iman. If you earned your GED it is the equivalent of a high school diploma.

  47. If I pass GED what kind of certificate can I gate a high school diploma or GED Senior?

  48. If u pass GED no matter how the score did they give you a GED diploma high school senior certificate?

  49. Hi,

    I am applying for colleges now and I completed my GED. They are asking for the official transcript for my GED. I sent the one I ordered, but they want it sent directly. If I have it sent online to an email address that is not my own (the school has their email address) will they be able to open it properly? I am concerned, because I remember having to log in with my information before it would allow me to download the transcript and certificate.

    1. Hi Grant. It depends on which state you’re from. You will need to request the transcript be mailed or sent electronically to the 3rd party recipient. If you are a Parchment state they have a FAQ page addressing this question. You can SSO directly to Parchment through your GED Student account by requesting duplicates from a link on your ‘My Score’ page.

  50. Hi, my name is Allyssa and I am from South Africa where I completed my high school and got my diploma. I am currently in the US and am looking to start my studying journey here. I was curious to know if I would need to do the GED test to get my third world country education on the same level as a first world country like the US to be able to study here?

    1. Hi Allyssa. You’ll need to contact the institutions you wish to attend or work for to see what they require.

  51. Good Day

    How does GED schooling benefit one, in the UK and European countries.

    Verses Cambridge schooling

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