A high school diploma is a document issued by an educational institution verifying that a student has completed the educational course of study required for high school graduation. Homeschooled students may obtain a high school diploma in one of several ways:
1. From their local public school (this is rare)
In most cases, states and school districts do not issue homeschool diplomas, but this does vary. In Pennsylvania parents must use a diploma developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education or receive a diploma from any of a number of homeschool associations. In North Dakota, homeschooled students are permitted to earn a diploma from their local public high school. Make sure to check whether your state has any similar requirements or opportunities.
2. From an umbrella school, correspondence school, or virtual school
Students who are homeschooled through an umbrella school or correspondence program will generally receive a diploma from that institution. Similarly, students who are educated at home through a virtual charter school or online public school are granted diplomas through those programs. These students are technically considered charter or public school students.
3. From their parents (this is most common)
In many cases, homeschooling parents issue their children diplomas they create themselves, often using a template they obtain online. In these cases, an individual homeschool functions as an independent educational institution, and the diploma serves as proof that a student has completed the course of study required by that institution. Most colleges, universities, and employers accept homeschool diplomas as proof of high school graduation.
Creating a Homeschool Diploma
A parent-issued homeschool diploma may be created from scratch or using a template. In addition, some services, such as www.homeschooldiploma.com, provide diplomas for sale online, allowing the purchaser to enter information such as the student’s name and receive a printed diploma. Whether you order a diploma from a service, design your diploma from scratch, or download a template online, it is important that the diploma look professional.
A homeschool diploma should include:
- The name of the institution (i.e. the homeschool) issuing the diploma
- The name of the student
- The city and state in which the diploma is issued
- The date the diploma is issued
- Language stating that the student has been granted a high school diploma
- A signature (generally that of the individual who has overseen the student’s education)
When using a service online or downloading a template, the language stating that the student has been granted a high school diploma will be provided for you automatically. However, when designing a transcript from scratch you will need to choose which words to use. Much like private school diplomas, homeschool diplomas generally state that the homeschool has “conferred” the diploma on the student, or that the student “has completed the course of study prescribed by” the homeschool.
Make sure the words “high school” appear somewhere on the diploma. This is not usually an issue for public high schools, as the school name generally indicates that it is a high school. This is not always the case for homeschoolers, as homeschools often have names like “Beech Road Academy” or “Wilson Christian School.” It is important to make sure that it is clear that this is a high school diploma, to prevent any confusion.
The resulting diploma should look something like these:
You are welcome to download and customize either of these templates (you can do so here and here), but bear in mind that some of the fonts may be different depending on the version of your word processor. You may also find it helpful to look for other homeschool diploma templates online.
Once finished, make sure to print your diploma on quality parchment paper and get it notarized. Getting a diploma notarized involves completing the signature in the presence of a notary public. These steps will help ensure that your diploma looks official.
Can a Homeschooled Student Create their Own Diploma?
There may be times when homeschooling parents either neglect or refuse to create a high school diploma for a homeschooled student who has completed the required work and is ready to graduate. A homeschooled student can absolutely create and print their own diploma, but they should not forge their parent’s signature. If the parent refuses to sign the diploma, the student may be best served by getting a GED.
While a diploma issued to a homeschooled student by their local public school or by a private school or correspondence school may carry the weight of being issued by an accredited educational institution, a homeschool diploma created and issued by a student’s parents does not. Thus while most colleges, universities, and employers will accept a homeschool diploma as proof of high school graduation, you should be ready to provide proof of the diploma’s validity if asked. A copy of your state’s homeschooling law, a high school transcript, and (depending on the state) a signed letter from your local superintendent stating that your homeschooling took place in compliance with the law will likely diffuse any concerns.