What Is a High School Diploma?

A high school diploma is the certificate awarded to high school students upon graduation. Earning the diploma indicates that the student met all of the criteria set forth by the state's board of education to graduate from high school.

Graduates usually receive the high school diplomas at the graduation ceremony. Recipients walk across a stage to receive the document, which is often in a protective binder.

Having a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for many jobs and to enroll in college classes. Students who didn't complete high school coursework can earn the General Education Development, or GED, credential in place of the diploma. The GED serves the same purpose as the diploma.