Differences Between High School diploma, GED, and CA Certificate of Completion

Q: Are there any differences in the eyes of college admissions offices between graduation with a High School diploma, GED, or a “CA Certificate of Completion”?

A: At both the CSU and UC systems, students must have a high school diploma, pass the California High School Proficiency Examination or a proficiency examination from another state, or have a General Education Development (GED) Certificate. A student must also meet the Subject (A-G), GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements specified by the system and/or campus. As such, a CA Certificate of Completion does not alone qualify a student for university admissions however a GED would, assuming all other admissions criteria have been met. If a student decides to apply as a transfer student by going to a community college for 2 years, there is no high school graduation requirement. For an overview of admissions criteria click here for CSU and here for UC.

California Community Colleges do not require a high school diploma for admission, however a diploma or its equivalent (e.g. California High School Proficiency Examination or GED) is required to qualify for federal financial aid.

Finally, it should be noted that with the passage of Senate Bill 172, which suspends the requirement for passage of the high school exit exam (CAHSEE) in order to obtain a diploma, some students who previously received a Certificate of Completion may now be eligible for an actual high school diploma. For additional information about this, click here.


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