The Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma (CSSD) is a high school equivalency credential available to residents of Pennsylvania who do not possess a high school diploma and who have met criteria specified in 22 PA Code Section 4.72.
The Pennsylvania high school equivalency diploma can be achieved by passing the General Education Development (GED®) test or completing the 30 College Credit Option. The requirements for the two options are as follows:
The Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma (CSSD) may be issued to an applicant who is a resident of Pennsylvania; is at least 17 years of age; does not possess a secondary school diploma from the United States; is not in a public, licensed private, registered accredited or licensed nonpublic secondary school; and has earned a passing score, as determined by the Department, on the high school level tests of General Educational Development (GED®).
The Tests of General Educational Development (GED®) were developed in 1942 to certify a high school level of academic skills for those people who did not graduate from high school. They were originally used to test veterans of World War II to determine whether returning GIs were qualified to attend higher education institutions. Most states, the District of Columbia, 11 Canadian provinces, and the U.S. insular areas and freely associated states use the GED® Tests as a basis for awarding high school equivalency credentials. Most U.S. employers consider the GED® credential in the same manner as a high school diploma. Almost all U.S. colleges and universities accept the GED® transcript for admissions purposes. The current 2002 Series GED® Tests are available in English, French, and Spanish.
The 2002 Series GED® Test was introduced in Pennsylvania as a paper-based test in January 2002 and computer-based in 2012. The current 2002 Series GED® Test (paper-based and computer-based) will expire in December 2013 and will be replaced by the new computer-based 2014 GED® Test. Those who have started the 2002 Series GED® Test but have not completed all five parts have until December 31, 2013, to pass all remaining sections. Those who do not successfully complete all five parts by the end of 2013 will be required to start over again in 2014 with the new 2014 GED® Test to be eligible to receive their high school equivalency credential. Partial scores from the current 2002 Series GED® cannot be carried over to the new 2014 test. Up-to-date information on the GED® Test is available on the GED® Testing Service website, www.gedtestingservice.com.
The Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma (CSSD) may be issued to an applicant who is a resident of Pennsylvania; is at least 17 years of age; does not possess a secondary school diploma from the United States; is not in a public, licensed private, registered accredited or licensed nonpublic secondary school; and presents evidence of satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 semester hours of study (in postsecondary level courses) at an accredited institution of postsecondary education.
The 30 College Credit Option is a practical alternative for individuals who are living in Pennsylvania, do not have a high school diploma from a United States school, and have accumulated a minimum of at least 30 semester hours of study at an accredited institution(s) of postsecondary education located in the United States.
Please follow the application process below:
- Download, complete and sign the Application for Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma – 30 College Credit Option (PDE-6005) (PDF) certifying that you meet the criteria for award of the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma (CSSD) based on 30 college credits.
- Provide proof of Pennsylvania residency. The address MUST match the address on the application form. Acceptable proof of PA residency must include at least one of the following documents: PA driver's license, voter's registration card, W2 form, utility bill or bank statement.
- Provide an official transcript from the postsecondary institution(s) where you earned the credits.
- Forward the required documentation to our office, using one of the following two options:
- Supply the completed application form and proof of residency to the college registrar's office and request they send the official transcript and other documents to the address below; OR
- Request an official postsecondary transcript (in a sealed envelope) from the postsecondary institution. Insert the sealed envelope, application form, and proof of residency into another envelope and mail to the address below:
Commonwealth Diploma Program | 30 College Credit Option
333 Market Street, 12th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
The Department of Education review and approval process is as follows:
- The GED® office will evaluate and verify the three documents. If information is missing or does not meet the requirements, we will contact you by phone, email or letter. If everything is in order and approved, processing your diploma and transcript will usually take 3 to 5 business days.
- The diploma and an initial transcript of the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma (CSSD) will be mailed to the address on the application at no cost.
Duplicate diplomas are not issued.
For additional copies of a transcript of your Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma (CSSD) based on the 30 College Credit Option.