Is an Online High School Diploma Legitimate?

It’s All About Accreditation

When it comes to earning a high school diploma online, the most important thing to consider is accreditation. An accredited school will have curriculum, coursework, and instruction that all meets high standards set forth by important academic review organizations whose job it is to ensure essential student educational needs are being met. You may have heard the term accreditation used before with colleges and universities. This means that certain degrees offered by that school have proven themselves at a consistently high enough level to ensure graduates have the skills needed to compete and succeed in the workforce.

Online high school accreditation works much the same way. Accreditation for online high schools comes from independent organizations which verify that a school or academic program meets minimum academic standards. It ensures that the high school diploma a student works so hard to obtain is just as valid and legitimate as one from bricks-and-mortar schools, and will be recognized as such by employers and other post-secondary institutions.

Is an Online High School Diploma Legitimate – How Can I Tell? 

Accreditation is the single-most important factor in making sure your online high school will provide you with a legitimate high school diploma. Reputable accreditation agencies will typically follow U.S. Department of Education standards as well as state or regional standards. In fact, many states will require accreditation for public schools, charter schools, and private schools of all kinds to make sure that students graduate on par with students from other states. Schools that possess accreditation and state approval by authorities recognized at the state level are considered to be recognized schools in the U.S. education system.


To be certain your online high school diploma is legitimate, review the accreditation of your chosen school. Schools are accredited by various agencies, including the school commissions of the regional accrediting agencies (public and many private schools) plus other national agencies. These include:

Middle States Association Commission on Elementary Schools and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)

New England Association Commission on American and International Schools Abroad (NEASC-CAISA)

New England Association Commission on Independent Schools (NEASC-CIS)

New England Association Commission on Public Secondary Schools (NEASC-CPSS)

Cognia Global Accreditation

National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) provides information on private school accreditation and links to recognized state accrediting agencies and accredited schools.

National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA) is an organization of 17 state and national accrediting agencies for private schools that adhere to similar standards.  The site provides links to associations and accredited schools.

Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) 

Several states and metropolitan regions may also have their own accreditation organizations as well. Any online high school that claims to be accredited should be able to provide proof of accreditation through at least one recognized accrediting agency. As well, the accrediting agencies themselves will often provide a searchable database that lists all schools accredited by that agency, including most recent dates of accreditation. This ensures that claims are accurate, up-to-date, and students and families can be certain of academic standards.

For online high schools that do meet or exceed accreditation requirements, diplomas awarded by those schools are 100% legitimate and may be used the same way as any other traditional high school diploma. As well, accredited online high schools can (and should be willing to) provide legitimate transcripts proving specific coursework as may be required for transfer to a local brick-and-mortar school, to apply to college or a trade school, or for educational requirements of an employer.


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