The American High School Diploma is the standard qualification for the completion of High School in the USA. This matric option is extremely flexible and well suited to the homeschooling family. It can be used with as much freedom or structure as the family chooses a home education approach.

The American High School diploma offers a wide variety of subjects. There are many quality study materials available, some free, others for a subscription fee. Families can also choose material which aligned with their worldview and children's learning styles.

If your homeschool learner wants to go to university, it is probably desirable to obtain an accredited Diploma. Numerous US and even local service providers offer formal accreditation, which will ensure that your child’s qualification meets university requirements.

For this qualification, your child must obtain exemption from USAf (Universities South Africa) https://mb.usaf.ac.za/. It’s best to start negotiating with the university of your choice early on. Several parents have already found out whether SA universities will accept such an accredited American High School diploma and have received confirmation for it.

Which subjects do I need?

There are different levels of the Diploma depending on the number and type of credits obtained.

The high academic 23+ Carnegie credit is the most academically thorough choice and ideal for those students who want to progress through to tertiary education. It comprises of advanced math and science classes that build high-level critical thinking skills that are the hallmark of a college prep diploma. Also extensive social studies and English classes that lead to comprehensive reading and writing skills complete the basics of the curriculum.

College prep students are also required to be proficient in a foreign language. Some providers offer the possibility of taking Afrikaans as an elective.To produce an academically advanced and well-rounded graduate students must also earn credits that focus on physical education, health and arts.

How to prepare

A wealth of service providers and subject materials are readily available to achieve success. Some homeschoolers make use of Career Online High School or Southern African Virtual school.

A support group is available at the Facebook group : Homeschooling in South Africa towards an American High School Diploma.


An extensive summary of this option is furthermore available at: The American High School Diploma as a SA school leaving certificate on this facebook group.

Matric exemption

To obtain a certificate of foreign conditional exemption from the Matriculation Board for an American Diploma, a candidate requires to fulfil one of three options:

  1. The High School Graduation Diploma accompanied by a certificate of eligibility for admission to study at any US university with a valid senior college accreditation issued by any of the following accreditation bodies: ACICS, DETC, MSA, NASC, NCA, NEASC - CIHE, SACS - CC, WASC – Sr;
  2. High School Graduation Diploma with at least two subjects passed on grade 3, 4 or 5 level for the Advanced Placement (AP) examinations of the American College Board;
  3. Candidates unable to submit letters of eligibility to study for degree purposes at an appropriately accredited US university must submit a SAT score of 1600 with a sub-minimum of 550 for Critical Reading and 500 for Mathematics and 500 for the Writing section, together with their High School Graduation Diploma. Or for the subject tests (SAT II), a score of 1050 for English and one of Physics or Chemistry with sub-minimum of 500 for either the English or one of the Physics, Chemistry, Biology or World History scores obtained at one or more sittings; or an ACT mean of 22 with a 22 sub-minimum in English and 21 in Mathematics Type of Exemption: Foreign (Reg 28)

SAT: Option (c)

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Tests) is a standardized test used in the USA for college admission, and in that sense it is similar to the National Benchmarking Tests (NBT’s), which is becoming a more frequently applied test by South African universities for more competitive courses (regardless of which matric option followed).

The SAT test does not provide the student with a qualification, but SAT scores may be required for university admission. SAT exams are administered by the College Board in the USA. These exams are provided at test centres in 175 countries, including South Africa. Students can register for SAT tests on the website of the College Board. Students have the option of writing the SAT on 6 different dates throughout the year in South Africa. The tests are written at 11 centres across the country, but not every centre offers the test on all 6 dates.

The SAT (which was redesigned in 2016) consists of four sections, namely Reading, Writing and Language, Math (which consists of two subsections, no calculator and calculator) and the optional Essay. The total time for the scored portion of the SAT is three hours (or three hours and fifty minutes if the optional essay section is taken). The College Board provides assistance in preparing for these tests (which is advisable): https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/khan-academy

Apart from the SAT, SAT subject tests, and the ACT are also available, and might be required by certain colleges for admission purposes.


American High School Diploma = R20,000+ (3+ years for Grades 9-12 for the standard and College-prep Diplomas; 18 months-2years for the Career Prep Diploma. Various free resources are available. The above mentioned cost excluded textbooks, tutor support, etc.

Advantages of the American High School Diploma

  • More freedom over choice of subjects and subject content.
  • Less emphasis on exams than other matric options like Cambridge and NSC.
  • Students can start university level courses during high school.

Disadvantages of American High School Diploma

  • The diploma is not as well-known as Cambridge and you will need to make sure if the university of your choice, as well as USAf will recognize it.
  • All work and exams are presented and written in English and not optimum for students with English second language.


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