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Sep 28, 2023 | Dashiell Allen

How to Access High School Equivalency Diplomas and GED Exams in New York

Regardless of their immigration status, all adult residents in the state over the age of 17 can obtain a High School Equivalency diploma (HSE) from the state Department of Education, which can open doors to jobs and career opportunities, or pursuing a college degree. 

Documented spoke to Nikeisha Smothers, director of adult education at the Brooklyn Public Library, and compiled a list of tips and resources for immigrant adults interested in completing their education. 

Who qualifies for High School Equivalency?

  • New Yorkers over the age of 17 can earn an HSE by taking the GED exam which is offered in Spanish and English, completing the National External Diploma Program online, or completing 24 college credits. 
  • To qualify, students must verify their New York State residency. 
  • New York City’s libraries and the Department of Education offer free GED preparation courses, in Spanish and English. 

What is a High School Equivalency diploma? 

An HSE diploma provides any person who did not graduate from high school with the opportunity to complete their high school education. It is open to students who are not enrolled in high school. 

How to get a High School Equivalency diploma?

Smothers said these are the pathways to earning a HSE diploma: 

  1. Taking the General Educational Development (GED) exam: The GED exam is broken into four sections: mathematical reasoning, social studies, reasoning through language arts, and science. It is offered in both English and Spanish. The New York City Department of Education, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations all offer free prep courses to prepare students for the exam. There is no cost associated with taking the GED exam in New York State, according to the GED website
  1. Completing the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). This program is fully remote and is often completed in between 6 to 12 months. Smothers said some students have completed it within 3 months. It is based on completing projects that test real-world skills while students meet with an advisor at least once every two weeks. To start the NEDP, applicants must submit a writing sample and complete an interview and written assessment. The NEDP is only offered in English. 
  1. Completing 24 college credits. Students who would like to complete a higher education degree can enroll directly into a community college, and after completing 24 credits, will receive a HSE diploma. This option requires paying the cost of college tuition, which may or may not include financial aid. Find more information here

It is also possible to enroll in basic education classes to improve reading and writing skills without taking an exam. “The great thing is it doesn’t matter which pathway that the applicant decides to take, they will receive the same agency diploma,” Smothers said.  

A student who previously attended high school in New York State and has a passing grade on any of the New York Regents exams will be exempt from taking the GED subtest covering the same material. Additionally, U.S. military veterans who engaged in “qualified service” will automatically receive an HSE diploma. Find more information here.  

What are the differences between the NEDP and GED? 

The NEDP provides more practical, real-world skills while the GED is more academically focused, Smothers said. “For example, for the GED math, you can take courses in geometry, functions, algebra, fractions. Whereas the NEDP math [includes] analyzing a credit card statement or doing interest rates on a home loan.” 

She added that many NEDP takers are fully employed and choose this program for its flexibility.

What are the requirements to enroll in a High School Equivalency program? 

All students must prove they are New York State residents, which they can do using an IDNYC card, driver’s license, or any other ID showing a New York address.

In most cases students must be over the age of 18 to enroll in prep courses for the GED, and students under the age of 17 are encouraged to re-enroll in high school, Smothers said. 

Are there specific requirements for immigrants?

Students who have not attended a school in the United States must fill out the form Application F, which verifies they have reached the “maximum compulsory school attendance age,” before taking a GED exam. 

Where can I sign up for a High School Equivalency/GED program? 

These agencies and organizations provide a variety of different HSE and adult learning classes: 

Brooklyn Public Library: 

Queens Public Library: 

New York Public Library: 

New York City Department of Education (DOE) 

  • Offers year-round GED prep courses. A DOE spokesperson told Documented that there isn’t a set schedule. Find more information here. 

Those interested in enrolling must visit the adult learning centers. On weekdays, courses run 3 to 5 hours, while on weekends they run for 5 hours, the spokesperson said. Here are there locations: 

The following locations offer day enrollment from 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Adult Learning Center
3450 East Tremont Avenue 3rd Fl
Bronx, NY 10465


Adult Education @ PS 13
557 Granville Payne Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11207

Adult Learning Center
475 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11216

Melrose Alternate Learning Center
271 Melrose Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206


Manhattan Hub
269 West 35th Street 7th Fl
New, NY 10001

Adult Learning Center
212 West 120th Street
New York, NY 10027


Adult Learning Center
27-35 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

Queens Transition Center
142-10 Linden Boulevard
Queens, NY 11436

The following locations offer day enrollment from 5:00 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Melrose Alternate Learning Center
271 Melrose Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Staten Island 

St. George
450 St. Marks Place
Staten Island, NY 10301


District 79
90-01 Sutphin Blvd. 2nd Fl
Jamaica, NY 11435

For more information you can email adultednyc@schools.nyc.gov or call (646) 481-8227. 

City University of New York (CUNY)

  • Offers HSE prep courses at a variety of different college campuses. Visit this website or this flier for information and contacts for each program. 

You can also search the New York State Department of Education’s website for organizations that offer HSE courses. Search the website here. 

You can also search for adult educational programs on the NYC Jobs Ready website

Also Read: How Immigrants Can Take a Free English Course in NYC

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