How to Verify a High School Diploma

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When hiring new employees for your business, do you ask if they have a high school diploma? If you have a section on your application that requires the applicant to check a box if they have a high school diploma, there’s a good chance you’re going to follow-up and verify that information.

Many employers prefer a high school diploma over a General Education Development credential (GED). Hiring workers who have at least a high school diploma will help ensure you are employing people with the necessary educational and workforce-ready skills that are necessary to complete the job’s assigned tasks.

While you may not require an applicant to show proof of their high school diploma, you still need to know how to verify that information.

Ask the Applicant

It might sound too simple, but asking the applicant to provide proof is within your rights as an employer. They can provide you with the original or photocopy of their diploma. If the applicant is older, they may not have this document handy or even have it at all. If that’s the case, you will need to find another way to verify the information.

Call the Applicant’s High School

If the applicant is unable to provide you with a copy of their high school diploma, ask them for the name of their school and in which city it's located, then call the school yourself. When you call, ask for the registrar. You may need to provide identification or verification that you are an employer. Additionally, the school official may require the applicant to sign a release form giving permission to release the information to you.

Depending on when the applicant graduated, the high school may not have their diploma on file. If that’s the case, you will need to call the school district’s central office and ask for the records and registration office. They are required to keep graduation information on file for many years. In rare instances, the district office may not have access to graduation information, which means you will need to contact the state’s office of education and public instruction.

Non-Traditional High School Students

In the case of an applicant that did not go to a traditional high school, you may need to do some more digging. Contacting home-school programs or online high schools can be tedious, so don’t expect to come up with the information right away. To expedite the process, ask the applicant to provide you with the contact information for the institution that awarded their diploma.

Questionable High School Diplomas

If the applicant provides you with a high school diploma that doesn’t look quite right, you may have to do further research. A high school diploma should have the name and location of the school that issued the diploma. If the diploma in question is missing any of that information, don’t trust it. Do a quick internet search of the institution printed on the diploma. You might be surprised by what you find.

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About the Author

Sara Lindberg, B.S., M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on adolescent and teenage development, secondary education, and higher education. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in exercise science and a Master's of Education degree in counseling.