The ultimate goal for any high-school student is to graduate. A diploma is recognition that a high school student has completed the necessary requirements graduation. The diploma that a graduate receives depends upon the course work he completed.

Honors Diploma

An honors diploma indicates a high level of academic achievement. The requirements for receiving an honors diploma vary from state to state but generally include higher level classes, such as foreign languages and honors or advanced placement courses. The guidance department at your school can advise you of requirements necessary to earn an honors diploma.

General Diploma

Most high-school graduates receive a general diploma. A general diploma indicates that the graduate has met the basic graduation requirements established by the state department of education. These requirements commonly include three to four years of science, math, history and English, along with an assortment of electives.

Occupational Diploma

Students who participate in a vocational program receive an occupational diploma. This diploma indicates the successful completion of a job preparation program. Many skilled trade industries accept an occupational diploma as an indication that the graduate has the skills necessary to obtain an entry level position in the field. Some vocational programs offer industry-recognized certifications along with the general occupational diploma that they receive from their home high school.

Certificate of Attendance

Special education students may earn a certificate of attendance. This type of diploma is awarded to students who, because of a recognized disability, were unable to complete the standard program required to earn a general diploma. The requirements for earning a certificate of attendance vary from student to student and depend largely upon the student's level of functioning and academic abilities.

Graduate Equivalency Degree

Students who fail to finish a traditional high school course of study can still earn a general equivalency diploma, or GED. To obtain a GED, students must attend an approved GED course and pass a state GED exam. GED exams are intended to indicate that the graduate has knowledge equivalent to that of a student who completed a high school program. Many students who drop out of school select the GED route instead of returning to a traditional high school program.