If you want to graduate high school and begin your education at a high level, then an online high school diploma may be the ticket to success.
A high school diploma has significant advantages over the GED, or the General Education Development test, which certifies academic skills at the high school level, but sets the bar much lower than a good high school education.
Traditional high school completion is discouraged or prevented for a variety of reasons. It is important to realize, however, that people with a high school diploma or GED earn an average of $11,000 more a year than those without one (US Census Bureau). A diploma also yields significantly higher salaries than a GED.
Online high school diploma programs can be both confusing and frustrating due to their wide variety and availability. It should be recognized by potential employers and colleges and universities that diplomas earned through quality online high schools are academically equivalent to those earned through traditional high schools. You can waste time, money, and energy searching for an online high school diploma program if you don’t know certain facts and pitfalls.
Accreditation and state approval are crucial in determining the quality of an online high school program. Your best bet for legitimacy is to enroll in a program accredited by an agency recognized by the USDE (U.S. Department of Education). Usually, these are regional or national accreditation agencies.
College degrees and coursework are most commonly transferred when accredited regional institutions are involved. You may want to look elsewhere if a school does not disclose its accreditation status or if its accrediting agency isn’t recognized by the USDE. In addition to being state-approved, legitimate online high school programs must also be accredited. No matter what state a student resides in, diplomas must be approved in the state from which they will be issued.
You should consider the following factors when assessing the value of an online high school program: the success rate of the program, the ease of communication between school and teachers, the flexibility and delivery of classes, counseling, tutoring, individualized programming, specializations (engineering, religion, arts, etc.), dual credit opportunities, and extracurricular activities.
What are the best online high school diploma programs?
1. Stanford University Online High School
Stanford OHS offers a rigorous college prep program within the umbrella of one of the most competitive universities in the country. Academically gifted students in grades 7–12 are served by Stanford OHS. It is a competitive program for students.
In addition to post-AP courses, Stanford OHS offers more than 24 university-level courses taught by faculty with doctorates. According to the school’s profile, the average SAT score is 1500 and the average ACT composite score is 33.
2. GW Online High School
One of the first virtual high schools affiliated with a major research university in the country, George Washington University Online High School operates entirely online.
Students interested in pursuing a college preparatory diploma at GWUOHS are academically talented. It requires 24 credits to earn that diploma.
A top-of-the-line curriculum from K12 is used by GWUOHS. In addition to rigorous, research-driven design, compelling interactive features, and ease of use, K12 offers a blend of online content with hands-on activities and outstanding books. The course includes asynchronous readings, activities, assessments, and videos, as well as live sessions conducted by the teacher. As an upperclassman, you can choose from a variety of concentrations, including science and technology, entrepreneurship, liberal arts, or even design your own. Moreover, every student participates in the Journeys Symposium every four years.
Through initiatives and resources such as Summer AP boot camp, an AP coordinator, and an assigned faculty member AP mentor, students are encouraged and equipped to take Advanced Placement classes. In addition to college planning and preparation, peer mentoring, dual college credit courses, and student interest clubs, other programs and initiatives are available.
3. University of Missouri High School: Mizzou K-12
The University of Missouri High School: Mizzou K-12 is located within the College of Education at the University of Missouri. As the only program at a research-intensive flagship university with a consistently ranked College of Education, this program is unique in the country. NCAA-approved classes are offered in the program, which aligns with national and Missouri standards.
The diploma program offers two options: Standard Path (24 credits) and College-Prep Diploma Path (25 credits). A variety of courses are available, including AP, honors, special topics, and NCAA-eligible classes. Princeton, MIT, Dartmouth, Cornell, Rice, Carnegie Mellon, Wake Forest, and the University of Michigan have accepted graduates from the program.
4. Mother of Divine Grace
Mother of Divine Grace (MODG) was founded in 1995 in Ojai, CA. In addition to providing parents with information, resources, and support, the school promotes classical education for children. Schooling at Mother of Divine Grace is based on a Catholic, classical approach.
It is possible for students to enroll in dual enrollment credits through their local community college.
Among the universities that have accepted MODG graduates are Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Penn, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Rice, UC-Berkeley, Georgetown, UCLA, and Carnegie Mellon. For a diploma, MODG students must complete 22.25 credits (225 units).
In addition to music and visual arts courses, MODG offers performing arts and fine arts courses. MODG offers families three types of programs based on their level of independence: assisted, directed, and enhanced directed. In addition to supplemental course attendance, apprenticeships, homeschooling assistance, and teacher services/learning support, Mother of Divine Grace also offers supplemental courses.
5. University of Texas High School
Through UTHS, high school students can take online classes through the University of Texas. The school currently serves over 300 full-time students and partners with over 250 school districts around the world. Coursework is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to part-time and full-time students.
In addition to the University of Texas at Austin online college program, UTHS students are eligible to select a dual-credit program through University Extension (the University of Texas at Austin online college program). Also available are online AP courses, NCAA-approved classes, and credit recovery courses. Texans have to earn 26 credits to earn a high school diploma, so they usually enroll in 6–7 courses per semester to graduate in four years.
6. Oak Meadow School
A group of parents and teachers founded Oak Meadow School in Brattleboro, Vermont, to reignite their children’s enthusiasm for learning. A progressive, compassionate, and child-centered approach to education is taken at the school.
In order to earn the diploma, students must complete 22 credits, some of which are unique to Oak Meadow School. Oak Meadow School, for instance, supports the whole person’s education by offering credit for work experiences and extracurricular activities (music, sports, arts, etc.). For extracurricular involvement, students can earn up to one full elective credit per year through the Life Experience Elective Credit program. It is possible for students to earn four credits towards their diploma through this program.
Through Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth online program, the school accepts Advanced Placement, computer science, and technology courses. It is also possible to transfer credit from CYTOnline, to enroll in dual enrollment music courses through Berklee College of Music Online, or to take Cornell’s challenging home study course Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology for science credit. Credit recovery is also available at Oak Meadow School.
7. International Virtual Learning Academy
This year-round, private K-12 online school is based in California. Students can enroll and begin classes at any time, and all coursework will be delivered online, allowing students and their families the greatest amount of flexibility.
Six different curriculum options are available: Accelerate, Alpha Omega’s Ignitia, Apex Learning, GradPoint, Odesseyware, or Plato Learning. There are also five different diploma plans available at the school: Standard, College Prep, Honors, STEM, and Career. Additionally, the school offers AP and Honors courses. A variety of life learning experiences are available to students through IVLA elective courses. Life experiences and outside activities are only eligible for two credits.
8. Laurel Springs School
As an online private school founded in 1991, Laurel Springs School offers a variety of academic offerings with a college preparatory focus. The University of California has approved Laurel Springs School’s courses for transfer credit since 1998.
Asynchronous courses are offered at Laurel Springs School. Each student’s progress is available 24/7 through the interactive grade book, which also archives past quizzes and tests for easy access.
A Gifted and Talented Academy is also available at Laurel Springs School’s online high school for students with exceptional learning needs. In this program, students study major topics in greater depth and engage in problem-solving that integrates knowledge across systems of thought. In addition to AP classes, the school has a chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS). An emphasis is placed on college preparation, and students meet monthly with a personal coach to guide them throughout the college selection, readiness, and application process.
9. Christa McAuliffe Academy School of Arts & Sciences
With the inspiration of Christa McAuliffe’s life and in her memory, Christa McAuliffe Academy School of Arts and Sciences (CMASAS) educates the next generation of leaders, scientists, philosophers, artists, and others who will be fully prepared for the 21st Century’s dynamic world. The Lake Oswego, Oregon-based CMASAS was established in July 2009.
Based on current brain and educational research, CMASAS follows a personalized education philosophy. Furthermore, the academy offers several high school diploma options based on student goals: standard, college prep, and career prep. Language clubs, student newspapers, and technology clubs are among the extracurricular activities offered. Among the other programs offered are honors and AP courses, adult high school completion, service promotion, and a global adventure program. The diploma requires 24 credits.
With year-round asynchronous instruction, instructors and educational facilitators are available to provide live interaction and assistance. The instructors are available by appointment and in the online classroom at specified times each week.
10. International Connections Academy
International Connections Academy was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.
In 2015, IVA’s Virtual Music Tools won the Cool Tool Finalist Award from EdTech, and its Education Management System won the Visionary Award in 2014. A number of awards have also been given to the school by the Software Information Industry Association, as well as by ComputED Gazette (EDDIE and BESSIE).
As part of ICA’s College Acceleration program, students can choose honors and AP courses or dual enrollment classes. The program allows students to earn an associate’s degree and a high school diploma at the same time. According to the school profile, the average student’s ACT composite score is 25 while their SAT composite score is 1159. ICA’s 2015 class graduated 100% on time, and 100% of students accepted into colleges.
Is there an easier way to get an online high school diploma?
Yes. While all of the above options are certainly prestigious, it turns out with a website like ValidGrad you can get a diploma from the high school of your choice within just a few days. Having a high school diploma is essential to reaching most career goals. Don’t wait years to get one, order an online high school diploma today.