Does Harvard Accept GED?

Last Updated on May 16, 2024.

The answer to the question of whether Harvard accepts GED graduates is simply YES. Harvard accepts GED graduates.

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The fact of the matter is that Harvard does not require any high school or GED diploma for admittance.

It is more important that you hold great academics and have a compelling story. So yes, Harvard may accept you with a GED or no high school diploma at all.

However, holding a secondary education degree (high school or equivalent diploma) is essential, and this website’s free online GED classes and practice tests help you get started with your prep, and you can see if this online study method is right for you.

If you like our free support, you can register with Onsego GED Online Prep, a comprehensive, affordable, accredited program that generously donates the free resources available on this website.

What Harvard does is require applicants to demonstrate they are talented and academically all set for success at Harvard.

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There are students who left high school prematurely and, after having earned their GED diplomas, apply for college admission and scholarships without mentioning their GED diplomas.

This also works at some highly selective schools with big endowments, and, again, Harvard doesn’t care if you have a GED or high school diploma or not.

Selective Admission Criteria

Then again, Harvard has VERY selective admission criteria, and though the school accepts a GED as proof of completing secondary education, you probably won’t get admitted in the first place.

Even if you graduated from one of the top high schools in the world, your chances of getting in would be not even 5 percent, even under the best of all circumstances.

On the other hand, suppose you earned your GED diploma just because you had to spend two of your high school years in a cancer ward, then joined the U.S. Olympic team after you recovered and won a few gold medals, or when you happen to be the daughter or son of a head of state, your chances will look pretty different.

From GED to A Ph.D. from Harvard

Let’s take a look if it is possible to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard if you earned a GED.

Well, your GED will get you into community college, and if you get two years of straight A’s in community college, you can make it into a good 4-year university or college.

You may even get into an Ivy League school or one of the other great U.S. colleges. And when you’ve graduated from a top 4-year school with excellent grades, you’ll have the chance to enroll in grad school.

Well, if your grades are great, if you have kept your academic achievement, if your research work is outstanding, and if you have excellent recommendations, you may even get into one of our nation’s top-notch grad schools. Maybe even Harvard.

The fact of the matter is that also Harvard, like an increasing number of U.S. colleges and universities, is accepting ASL (American Sign Language) as a foreign language, so hearing problems shouldn’t keep you back from enrolling in Harvard!

The American System

This is a great thing about the American education system. We all have a second chance. Just because you’ve messed up in your high school years doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life without any further education.

The chances are that you’ll need to work a little longer and harder than students who didn’t screw up, but if you want, you surely can go from GED to Ph.D.

Juan’s Story

Interesting is the story of Juan, a young student who quit high school prematurely to support his family. He later studied for and earned his GED.

Then he graduated from a California community college to transfer later to an average-ranking undergraduate research school where he completed a BSc degree in Chemical Physics.

After completing his bachelor’s degree at the mid-ranked school, Juan was accepted to every Ph.D. program in Chemical Physics he applied to, including Stanford and Harvard. Isn’t that something?

What this tells us is that if you have the ambition, ideas, and discipline, you can be who and what you want to be. Sure, your ability within your chosen field and experience, and perhaps a bit of luck, play a role as well, but generally speaking, that’s all.

So you see, it doesn’t hurt to do some serious laboratory work in your field. All of that counts when it comes to applying to a school like Harvard.


So many top-tier schools, including Harvard, state that they are accepting GED holders as long as they submit high SAT/ACT scores. But they just want the best of the best.

So, in reality, Harvard will likely decline GED-holding applicants as they usually see the GED as a sign of lower accomplishment or even laziness. So you might even think about getting a high school diploma after you’ve earned your GED.

There is the conception that if Harvard or another Ivy League school would accept a GED, it might cast a negative outlook on the school and the entire college community.

The Harvard Admissions Process

Harvard’s admissions process enables the school to give meticulous and deliberate consideration of all applicants as whole persons. This is a labor-intensive process, but it allows for extraordinary flexibility, and the school might even change some decisions.

The school continually receives new information about candidates, so this is critical. This process may continue until the day applicants receive the Admissions Committee’s decisions by mail.

The school is aware that the admissions process may not be perfect and that some students who didn’t get in will see great successes down the road.

The fact of the matter is that often, even students with a 97-98% percent graduation rate could be better served at some other academic institution. The school works hard to ensure they will make the best and fairest admissions decisions for all students.

What Harvard IS Looking for

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as the typical Harvard student. In the admissions process, the school gives careful and individual attention to all applying students.

Harvard is looking to identify those students who will prove to be the finest educators of their peers and professors. The school looks to select individuals who will be an inspiration for all those around them in their years at the school and beyond.

The following points are taken into consideration as they read and review your college application:

Growth and Potential

To what extent have the applicants reached their full personal and academic potential, and have they been stretching themselves?

Did they work to capacity in their academic pursuits, their part-time or full-time jobs? Do they have reserve power to achieve more, and have they used their time well?

Interests and Activities

Do the applicants care deeply about things, personal, intellectual, or perhaps extracurricular? And what have they learned from their interests, and what have they done with their interests? How did the applicants achieve results, with what failure or success, and what have they learned as a result?

And when it comes to community, family, athletic, or extracurricular commitments, did they take full advantage of the opportunities? What was the quality of their activities? Did they demonstrate a genuine commitment, and did they take on leadership roles?

In case applicants did not have so much time in their high school year for extracurricular activities and pursuits due to work, familial, or some other obligation, what do they hope to do and explore at Harvard during their additional free time?

Personal Character

The admissions committee at Harvard also takes a close look at what choices applicants have made for themselves and why. How open are they to new people and new ideas, and are they perhaps late bloomers?

What’s also taken into consideration are matters such as an applicant’s character, maturity, leadership skills, self-confidence, energy, sense of humor, concern for other people, and grace and performance under pressure.

Contributions to the Harvard Community

Are applicants capable of standing up to the freedoms and pressures of college life? Will they contribute something to their peers and Harvard in general? Will they be able to benefit from their Harvard experiences?

Would other Harvard students want to be in a seminar with them, share a meal, or be teammates, and to what extent would other students collaborate with them in closely-knit extracurricular groups?

Grades Do Matter, but they don’t need to End Your Dreams

Don’t think that your grades or test scores don’t matter! They are key and can also make the difference when it comes to getting accepted to particular schools, but they are also important whether or not you’ll be able to receive the funds to pay for your college education.

And don’t think that this is only true for high school grads. This also counts for GED holders. Generally, how badly a college or university wants you to become their student will also determine the financial aid they will offer you or whether you qualify for scholarships or not.

On the other hand, if you couldn’t have those super grades or score so high on some tough tests, your educational life doesn’t need to be over. Even when you left high school without a diploma, and even when your grades are less than exemplary, there’s still so much to achieve for you.

Even if you’re not the world’s brightest or best student, you still can dare to dream! Without any doubt, you can do and accomplish so much more than you ever believed you could.

Dig out your Dreams-Dust Them off

Do you know that there are actually far fewer obstacles to your dreams and goals than you often think? Henry Ford said something like, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re always right.”

If there is anything that’s holding you back, it’s your own thoughts, your own beliefs. When you’re thinking that you can not, then as Ford said, you’re probably right. The way you believe things about yourself is extremely strong and powerful.

If you’ve quit high school prematurely and are convinced that students without a high school diploma are losers, this will never get you anywhere or amount to anything; think again!

If you believe that only students with perfect grades will be able to live their dreams, just banish those thoughts from your mind! Grades can and will make a world of difference when it comes to available opportunities, but if you’re not making those perfect grades, your situation is in no way hopeless.

So go and find your dreams. Dig them out from wherever you may have buried them. Dust your dreams off, and you’ll be surprised to see how they come true. You just got to make it happen.