Can You Go to College With a GED?

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Juliann Scholl, Ph.D., was a tenured professor at Texas Tech University for several years, where she taught undergraduates and graduate students and served as a graduate admissions director. She also worked as a social scientist for the CDC. Juliann ...
Published on March 8, 2024
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With a General Education Development (GED) diploma — sometimes referred to more simply as a General Education Diploma — you can apply to most colleges and universities in the U.S. A GED doesn't necessarily make it harder to gain acceptance, but there are things you can do to enhance your college application. Also, school admission requirements vary, so do some research and find out what information you'll need to submit, such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, and other documents.

What Is the GED?

To earn your GED diploma, which is equivalent to a high school diploma, you'll need to sit for and pass a series of GED tests. Some states offer GED exams for free, while others charge $30-$40 for each subject exam.

GED tests consist of four subject area tests: reasoning through language arts, mathematical reasoning, science, and social studies. To earn your GED, you must get a minimum score of 145 in each subject area.

Does a GED Meet College Admission Requirements?

In many ways, the process of applying to college with a GED diploma is similar to how students do it with a high school diploma. Unlike high school graduates, however, some people with GEDs don't have a record of standardized test scores or extracurricular activities — these are things that many colleges request from applicants.

You can do several things to enhance your college application if you have a GED diploma. For example, if you haven't attended school for a while or have a low grade point average (GPA), you might enroll in a community college to improve your GPA and accumulate transferable credit hours.

Additionally, if you earned a GED, you may have missed some extracurricular activities commonly available to high school students. If this applies to you, mention your work history, volunteer opportunities, internships or apprenticeships, training, workshops, or other activities that speak to your work ethic, personality, skills, and interests.

Finally, consider retaking any or all of your GED exams to boost your scores. Although a score of 145 is considered passing, many colleges consider scores between 165-174 indicative of readiness for postsecondary study. Additionally, if you have exceptionally high scores, you may be able to qualify for some college credit.

Below, see what else you'll likely need to submit when applying to college with a GED diploma.


A transcript lists the coursework you've completed, the grade for each course, your cumulative GPA, and the degree or diploma you earned. Colleges typically require transcripts from every secondary or postsecondary school you've attended, even if you didn't graduate. Be sure to read the application instructions to see if your transcripts must be official, meaning they must come directly from your former school.

Test Scores

Many admissions officers look to entrance exams like the ACT or SAT as college readiness indicators. Check your school's application instructions to see if they require standardized test scores. Some applicants prepare for and take one or both of these exams to boost the competitiveness of their application.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation from employers, former teachers, or influential mentors discuss an applicant's strengths, qualifications, and readiness for college study. When asking someone to write a recommendation letter, be sure to give them ample notice before any deadlines — at least a few weeks.

Personal Statement

Some college applications require a personal statement or application essay. This document is an opportunity to elaborate on your personal and academic achievements, strengths, educational and career goals, and what makes you ready to tackle a college degree.

You can use your personal statement to explain why you earned your GED and the events leading to that decision. If you experienced a disruption in your education, write about how you overcame it and what you gained from pursuing your GED diploma.

Ways to Enhance Your Application

Here are some strategies for enhancing your college application:

  • Show off your work experience, volunteer opportunities, internships, or apprenticeships.
  • Retake some/all GED exams to elevate your scores.
  • Include strong recommendation letters from people who know you well.
  • Submit a stellar personal statement.

Can You Go to College With a GED?

Did you know that 98% of U.S. colleges accept applicants who have a GED diploma? In addition to qualifying for college credits, having high GED test scores may also help you get out of taking some college placement tests.

Benefits of Pursuing Higher Education With a GED

For many aspiring college students, earning a GED diploma can provide a path to higher education, which can help increase your earning potential. For example, May 2022 data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that workers with an associate degree earn almost 18% more than those with a high school diploma or the equivalent. A postsecondary education can also qualify you for more challenging careers with greater advancement opportunities.

If you have a GED, don't let the lack of a high school diploma discourage you from pursuing a college degree. Most accredited schools in the U.S. accept applicants with GEDs who fulfill other admission requirements..

Resources for GED-Holders

If you want an inside look at the GED testing format and tips on doing well on exams, you may find this resource valuable. This website offers practice tests, questions, and a mechanism to sign up for GED online testing. As a trusted leader in test preparation, Kaplan offers a self-paced GED prep course that works on most devices. Students can access practice tests, watch pre-recorded video courses, and contact instructors with questions. If you'd rather use a GRE prep book while studying, this test-prep guide by Kaplan includes two complete practice tests and over 1,000 questions to help you become familiar with the GED testing format. Kaplan will also refund the book cost if you buy it but don't pass the GED. For a monthly subscription fee, you can access this site's extensive sample tests, instructional videos, and study guides. Another feature of this resource is that you can progress through the material at your own pace. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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