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How Can I Graduate From High School With an Advanced Diploma?

by Michele Cooper, studioD

An advanced diploma means that a student has completed and succeeded in course work or testing greater than the typical high school graduate. Advanced diplomas often bump up a student’s grade point average and help them get into good colleges. Graduating from high school with an advanced diploma is entirely dependent upon which state you live in. Currently, only 21 states offer advanced diplomas, each calling them something different.

Graduate with an Advanced Diploma

Texas has an advanced diploma option called the Distinguished Achievement High School Program.

Find out if your state offers an advanced diploma. Ask your local district if there is something equivalent that may go by a different name. In New York State, the advanced diploma is called the Regents Diploma, for example. Check the Education of the States Commission website to see if your state participates in an advanced diploma program.

Typically, you need a high grade in standard classes to get bumped up to higher level classes.

Visit the guidance counselor at your school or school district to find out exactly what you need to do to complete the advanced diploma requirements. Start in early high school so that you have time to adjust your schedule and course work if necessary. Prepare for advanced course work by passing all of the major subjects with high scores. Set up testing for the program, if necessary.

Advanced coursework is challenging, so be prepared to study more than in regular classes.

Enroll in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses beginning your junior year in high school (sooner, if available). Pass these courses with an average grade of 90 percent or better. Check local college campuses for beginning level courses in appropriate subjects, if your school does not offer advanced courses in all subjects, and see if you are permitted to take courses there. Look for advanced math, science, history and social science courses.

An advanced diploma will help you when applying to top universities.

Apply or fill out all necessary paperwork in order to obtain your advanced diploma. Visit the guidance or college counselor at the beginning of your senior year to ensure that all course work is being met and to find out what your state needs you to do in order to graduate with honors. Enroll for exams, if applicable, as some states require you to pass exams with a certain grade before an advanced diploma will be granted.


  • If your state does not offer an advanced diploma, you may still be able to take AP courses to improve your GPA,
  • Many states have International Baccalaureate Diplomas through the international IB program, even if they do not have their own version of an advanced diploma.

About the Author

Michele Cooper has been freelance editing and proofreading since 2006. She has published poetry in the literary journal "Night Roses." Cooper currently teaches writing courses at the community college level and brings her expertise in communication to all of her writing. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Hunter College and a master's degree in teaching/education from State University New York at New Paltz.

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