Certificate of Completion

Visit Transition to Adulthood for more resources on the transition process. 

What is the difference between a high school diploma and a certificate of completion?

A certificate of completion (CoC), unlike a high school diploma is not an academic credential. A high school diploma is awarded to students that have met the Michigan Merit Curriculum graduation requirements. A certificate of completion might be given to students with IEPs (Individual Education Plan) that are being taught an “alternate” curriculum and taking the MI-Access alternate state assessment.

How is it decided who gets a diploma and who gets a CoC?

A certificate of any type (completion, achievement, attendance, recognition, etc.) is not a regular high school diploma and should not be reported as such on any form that asks if an individual has achieved a high school diploma (for example, on a job application).

  • Michigan law makes no reference to certificates and does not provide any definition of a certificate.  Certificates are given, or not given, at the discretion of the local school district.

A student does not have to meet the criteria of the Michigan Merit Curriculum or maintain the grade requirement to receive a certificate of completion.  A student with an IEP may focuses on meeting individualized goals and objectives.  The student’s IEP team determines if he/she will receive a diploma or a certificate of completion.  Accepting a certificate of completion can allow the student to participate in the senior graduation activities.  A student who receives a certificate of completion is eligible to continue receiving special education services until the age of 26 per Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) Rule 340.1702.

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