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Earning Your Wisconsin High School Diploma!

You can earn your high school diploma in Wisconsin in a variety of ways, including through a combination of required coursework and passing the GED exam or by participating in an adult high school or competency program.

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Getting a High School Diploma in Wisconsin

There are several options if you're an adult living in Wisconsin who would like to earn your high school diploma. The state offers programs that let you earn a traditional diploma, a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, depending on your educational situation. You can visit the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website for detailed information about the HSED and GED (dpi.wi.gov).

Earn Your High School Equivalency Diploma

There are five ways for Wisconsin adults to earn their HSED. Each option depends on your educational situation and on the program requirements.

HSED through GED Plus Additional Work

One way to earn your HSED is by passing the GED and completing additional coursework or tests in civics, career awareness and health. This program is for individuals who want to study subject material and then take a test. Once completed, the state will issue an equivalency diploma or a participating high school will grant you a traditional diploma.

HSED Through High School Credits

If you were recently in high school and lacked one or two credits to graduate, or if you enjoy a school setting and group interaction, you may take high school or college classes to earn your needed credits. These classes are offered at technical schools across the state. Also, work and home study experience may count as credit. Upon approval, you'll be issued a high school diploma once you've gained enough credits to graduate.

HSED via Post-Secondary Education

You may obtain a HSED by earning 24 college credits if they include credits in subjects you did not complete in high school. This program fits adults who are interested in a vocational or technical education while also earning the credits needed to graduate from high school. Depending on your situation, you may receive an equivalency or traditional diploma.

HSED Based on a Foreign Diploma

If you received an educational credential in another country but would like to earn a Wisconsin high school diploma, you may submit your high school or college transcripts to the state Department of Public Instruction for approval. You'll also have to meet U.S. citizenship requirements. If granted, you will receive equivalency or a traditional diploma.

Competency-based HSED

You can also earn a HSED by participating in an approved program that allows you to demonstrate your knowledge in math, social studies, reading, science, writing, civics and health. In this program, you would build a portfolio of courses rather than participate in extensive testing. Once approved, you'll earn an equivalency or traditional diploma.

GED Certificate

Wisconsin residents may earn a GED certificate in lieu of a HSED. The GED consists of a five-section test that covers math, writing, reading, science and social sciences. This route is for individuals who want to study for their high school equivalency certificate on their own and who may not benefit from typical classroom style learning or whose first language is not English. You can get detailed information about the GED at the American Council on Education website (www.acenet.edu) or the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website. This paper and pencil test is not available online.

Coursework Information

Required coursework to earn a HSED include subjects on health, employment skills and civic literacy. Students working toward a through a competency program may complete life skills courses such as consumer education and computer literacy. If you enroll in an adult high school or competency program you could take classes on the following topics:

  • Environmental science
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • U.S. history
  • English
  • Communications
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