How to Complete a High School Diploma in the CLAA

If a Catholic student needs a driver’s license, he does not study the classical liberal arts to get one. The requirements for a driver’s license pertain to driving and require special preparation and testing. The same is true of a high school diploma.

A high school diploma is a certificate awarded to a student who has completed the studies offered by a modern public high school. Some of these studies are learned within the classical Catholic curriculum, but others are not. Just as a student must take time to prepare to earn his driver’s license, so must he also take time to earn a high school diploma.

Having said that, a homeschool students does not need to seek a high school diploma from any outside school or study program, but may be awarded one by his own parents. Homeschool parents are real school administrators and have the authority to issue their own high school diploma. They should, however, make sure that the expected content of a high school diploma has been completed and should not make diploma requirements higher than those in modern public schools.

Remember: The requirements of a high school diploma should not govern a student’s education any more than a driving test should.

High School Diploma Requirements

A respectable high school diploma represents completion of studies in the following subjects:

  • 4 high school credits in English
  • 4 high school credits in Mathematics
  • 4 high school credits in Science
  • 4 high school credits in History/Social Studies
  • 4 high school credits in Foreign Language

A “high school” credit means 120 hours of classroom time in a subject in a modern school. So, to understand what is actually required here,we have to consider what is completed in that time in a subject in a modern school. Modern textbooks are designed to serve the purpose of modern schools and a modern high school textbook provides the content covered in a high school course. We may, then, consider that studying through a high school textbook to provide a student with the requirements of a credit-earning high school course.

How the CLAA Can Help

In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, I have worked to identify quality textbooks to cover the requirements of all courses necessary for the completion of a high school diploma. The high school diploma requirements may be satisfied with the following courses available in the CLAA Study Center:

I. English

II. Mathematics

III. Natural Sciences

IV. History/Social Studies

V. Foreign Language

The courses above allow a student to satisfy/exceed all modern high school diploma requirements while allowing students to continue making progress in classical Catholic studies.

Preparing High School Transcripts

Homeschool parents should prepare transcripts that provide authorities/institutions with the information they need in the simplest format possible. It may or may not be in the parents’ interest to add more detail than is necessary for the purpose served by the transcript. A simple outline of courses may be presented as seen in the following transcript template:

To make use of this transcript template, simply select File > Make a copy and save it to your own Google Drive account for editing and saving.

Enriching High School Transcripts

The high school transcript template provides the simplest possible high school transcript, but not one that any Catholic homeschool students should be proud of. Selective colleges urge students to take the most challenging course of studies available to them and will not be impressed by such a transcript. Additional courses in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy make substantial improvements to this high school transcript that are sure to separate an Academy student from his peers. Here are some recommended additions for each subject area:

I. English

II. Mathematics

III. Natural Sciences

IV. History/Social Studies

V. Foreign Language

The courses listed above are recommended as ideal additions to the basic high school studies required to satisfy diploma requirements. Note that even partial completion of them adds to the student’s academic record.

Free vs. Paid Enrollment

All or nearly all of the high school program suggested above can be completed for free on the CLAA Study Center. That’s pretty amazing to think about, and I will work to make it so.

However, there are benefits of paid enrollment which are not insignificant. First, graded written assignments will only be possible for students with paid enrollments. Second, I will only provide letters of reference for students with whom I have worked directly through grading, tutoring, etc. Third, tutorial services are likely going to be desired throughout the course of studies.

When the cost of paid enrollment is considered–a maximum of $25 per month or $300 per year–it’s hard to justify denying a student those benefits. Parents can decide what options are best for each individual child.


Earning a high school diploma should be considered a goal separate from the study of the classical Catholic curriculum–but it is a necessary one. Parents should seek out the most efficient means of completing diploma studies, without distracting students from classical Catholic studies. The course of studies listed above provides students with the means of satisfying high school diploma, and suggest additional studies to distinguish themselves.

If you have any questions about high school diploma requirements, please contact me.

I recommend the following article for more information:

God bless your studies,

William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy