Finishing or upgrading your high school education can open the door to new opportunities. If you are 20 years of age or older you are considered an adult learner, and there are upgrading providers across the province who can help you reach your goals.
Whether you want to earn your high school diploma a little later in life, or you are looking to meet the admission requirements for post-secondary education, you have options. You can upgrade in a classroom setting, or through distance and online learning.
International students may also consider upgrading after having their education assessed by the International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS).
Pre-high school education classes and programs for adults can help you:
- return to learning
- add skills to get a job or improve your life
- prepare for other learning opportunities, like academic upgrading
- learn English as a Second Language
Read more about learning foundations options, including how to find them.
High school diploma
The Alberta High School Diploma is the most common credential earned by high school students. A diploma is often a basic expectation when applying for jobs and post-secondary study.
Students working towards an Alberta High School Diploma are required to earn at least 100 credits in a high school setting and must complete several mandatory courses. More specific graduation requirements are detailed in Alberta Education's Guide to Education.
Adult students may enrol in any high school course they wish, regardless of if they have completed prerequisite courses. An adult student who receives credit for a course automatically receives credit for any prerequisite courses. For example, a student who enrols in, and completes, Biology 30 without having previously completed Biology 20 will receive credit for both Biology 20 and 30.
Challenging a diploma exam
Diploma exams are worth 30% of a student's grade in a grade 12 course. Students who have already completed a course but want to improve their diploma exam score may rewrite the diploma exam. Adults may write a diploma exam for a course without taking instruction in the course at all and count their exam mark as 100% of the course mark.
Students who are at least 18 years of age or older on September 1 of the current school year, and have been out of high school for at least 10 consecutive months, may earn an Alberta High School Equivalency Diploma. There are two ways to earn an equivalency diploma.
Earning an equivalency diploma by gathering credits
Like the Alberta High School Diploma, students who gather 100 school credits are eligible for an equivalency diploma. However, students working towards an equivalency diploma may earn credit for adult education taken outside of high school, for life experience and for maturity. At least 60 credits must be earned through classroom instruction, which must include specific courses.
Once a student has earned enough credits to graduate, they may apply to the principal of their local high school, who will forward their documentation to Alberta Education. More information about gathering credits is available in Alberta Education's Guide to Education.
Earning an equivalency diploma through General Education Development (GED) tests
Students can earn an equivalency diploma by passing five GED tests:
- English Language Arts – Reading
- English Language Arts – Writing
- Social Studies
You do not have to complete high school courses to write the GED tests. There are GED test writing centres across Alberta. Some testing centres also offer GED test preparation classes. Read more about writing the GED tests, and find a testing centre near you.
Using an equivalency diploma for post-secondary admission
The Alberta High School Equivalency Diploma is typically a route to employment rather than post-secondary studies, and some post-secondary institutions will not accept high school equivalency courses for admission.
It is important to carefully review the admission requirements of the post-secondary program you are interested in attending. Admission requirements can be found on the institution’s website.
You may also wish to speak with an advisor at the post-secondary institution for more information about admission requirements.
Upgrading courses or marks
If you do not meet the entrance requirements for a post-secondary program that interests you, either because you’re missing specific high school courses or your marks aren’t high enough, you can either:
- Retake specific high school courses and/or diploma exams to improve your grades. Your new grade will be the highest classroom mark blended with the highest diploma exam mark.
- Challenge a diploma exam if you’re over 19 and want to earn credit in a course without taking the course. Your diploma exam mark will be the mark for the entire course.
- Take only the high school courses you need for post-secondary entrance, without necessarily finishing a diploma. Speak with an advisor at your post-secondary institution to determine what courses you need in order to be admitted to your program.
Funding for upgrading
You’re responsible for the cost of your education. Upgrading costs vary by program and institution. However, courses generally cost:
- $500 to $600 in tuition fees
- $200 to $300 in textbook and other fees
When planning a budget, consider other costs, such as:
- parking or bus fees
- babysitting or daycare if you have children
While you cannot get student loans for upgrading, other financial assistance may be available for upgrading depending on your circumstances. Research your local and distance learning options to find the best option for you.
You may also benefit from asking your upgrading provider about other funding options that may be available to you.
Where to upgrade
Upgrading providers across Alberta offer several different ways for students to complete their high school education:
- Some courses can be applied towards an Alberta High School Diploma or Alberta High School Equivalency Diploma.
- Some courses are available online or by distance learning, while others are offered in a classroom.
- Some post-secondary institutions are testing centres where students can write the GED tests to earn an equivalency diploma.
The following table outlines which options are available at various upgrading providers across Alberta.
|School||Location||In-Class options||Online or distance options||High school diploma||Equivalency diploma||GED Writing Centre|
|Alternative School Centre||Red Deer||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Bow Valley College||Calgary||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Chinook Learning Services||Calgary||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Edmonton Catholic Schools||Edmonton||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Francophone Distance Education Centre||St. Paul||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|First Step Adult Education Centre||Lacombe||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Keyano College||Fort McMurray||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Note: Lakeland College offers a high school equivalency certificate based on the Saskatchewan curriculum and standards. Albertans are welcome to register in this program.|
|Medicine Hat College||Brooks
|Metro Continuing Education||Edmonton||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Mount Royal University||Calgary||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Next Step High School||Fort Saskatchewan
|NorQuest College||Drayton Valley
|Northern Lakes College||Campuses across Alberta||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Old Sun Community College||Old Sun Reserve||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Palliser Regional Schools||Calgary
|Portage College||Cold Lake
Lac La Biche
|Red Deer Polytechnic||Red Deer||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|SCcyber E-Learning Community||Calgary||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|St. Gabriel School||Red Deer||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Vista Virtual Schools||Barrhead
|Yellowhead Tribal College||Edmonton||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
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