Diploma Options

There are three diploma options in Virginia:  Standard Diploma, Advanced Studies Diploma, and Applied Studies Diploma. Students with disabilities have the same opportunity to obtain a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma as students without disabilities if they are in the SOL curriculum. If your child has a modified curriculum (they are learning different things than their classmates without disabilities) and does not take SOL tests, this is not possible. Studentswho don’t participate in the general education curriculum and the SOL assessments may receive an Applied Studies Diploma.

If your child wants to go to college, they will need a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma. The Advanced Studies diploma is the best diploma for students who want to go to a four-year college or university.

It’s important to think about these decisions very early on–beginning in elementary school but definitely by middle school. If your child is taken out of the SOL curriculum in third grade, it may be impossible to catch up and obtain a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma when they are in high school. Before opting out of the SOL curriculum and assessments, it’s important to do your research and, of course, keep high expectations for what your child may achieve in the future. Check out this 4-minute video by VDOE: What You Need to know about Diploma Options.

The Applied Studies Diploma is for students who have completed their IEP requirements but do not meet the requirements for the Standard or Advanced Studies diploma. These students still take part in statewide assessments (the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program or VAAP). In 2021, the VAAP was significantly changed to better assess students with significant cognitive disabilities. Those changes go into effect in the 2021-2022 school year.


Students who receive an Applied Studies Diploma can receive IEP services
through age 22, even if they participate in the graduation ceremony.

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