Do you have to have a high school diploma/certificate to apply to universities?

My situation is quite strange. I’m an international student and I completed Cambridge o levels but I didn’t continue A level exams and I left high school in grade 10 due to personal problems. I’m planning to prepare for SAT and try applying for universities but now I’m not sure if it’s possible for students who didn’t complete high school can apply to universities only with their SAT scores. Or should I consider taking pre university/foundation courses?

You would need to contact each school to see if you need to go further in your HS education to meet min requirements for a university.

You would be ineligible for admission to most US colleges. A diploma or GED is required.

For a US Resident a number of schools will allow early admission. Allowing them to enter college after Junior Year without a diploma, NYU used to have a whole program when I was younger, not sure if they still do. See which schools permit that and contact them. I know another parent who has a college degree and a medical degree and never graduated high school or even got a GED, he saw no reason to after he graduated college. Also some schools may accept a GED (US high school equivalency). I do not understand the O level A level system well enough to comment on your situation. Although grades are very important to admission so you may be at a disadvantage if you do not have any.

The NYS Board of Regents requires that colleges obtain proof of high school equivalency before they can issue a college degree. Check the admission requirements of the colleges you’re interested in attending to find out what you need to do to apply.

You don’t need it to apply, but the vast majority will require it before you attend.

I do not know of any college or university that specifically requires that applicants complete secondary school before enrolling. Some in fact have special programs for “early college” students. However, each college/university has its own ways of determining whether or not an applicant is “college ready”. You need to contact each place on your list, and ask whether or not they will consider you as an applicant with only the O level exams and your experiences since leaving school.

Re-post your question in the International Students Forum. Use a title along the lines of “Where can I get in with only my O level exams”, and you should get some ideas. Here is the link to that forum. http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/international-students/

You also should get in touch with the counselors at the EducationUSA advising center that is closest to where you live. They will also have useful ideas for you about places that are likely to accept you with only your O levels. https://educationusa.state.gov/find-advising-center

The NYS Board of Regents [CR 3.47](https://govt.westlaw.com/nycrr/Document/Iec9d643dc22111dd97adcd755bda2840?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default)) states that a high school diploma or proof of high school equivalency is needed to receive a NYS college degree. Technically, the proof isn’t needed to enroll, it’s required to graduate, however, that doesn’t stop colleges from requiring it when applications are submitted.

In some states, you may enroll at an open admission community college without a high school diploma, then transfer as a junior to a university.

This post does not apply to the OP who is an international student and cannot receive federal financial aid, but I wanted to note for others that to be eligible for federal financial aid, you must have a diploma, a GED, or for homeschoolers, the equivalent.

Austin, if you review your citation please note the following:

(d) having successfully completed 24 semester hours or the equivalent as a recognized candidate for a college-level degree or certificate at a degree-granting institution as defined in clause (e) of this subparagraph. distributed as follows; six semester hours or the equivalent in English language arts, including writing, speaking and reading (literature); three semester hours or the equivalent in mathematics; three semester hours or the equivalent in natural sciences; three semester hours or the equivalent in social sciences; three semester hours or the equivalent in humanities; and six semester hours or the equivalent in any other courses within the registered degree or certificate program, all as verified by the institution conferring the degree;

The college program is considered a high school equivalency. Further, that is for a SUNY or CUNY state school. If you wanted to go to a private college that would not apply, even within New York. As I noted above, NYU had a program geared to high school students 20 years ago.

The [NYS Board of Regents](http://www.highered.nysed.gov/ocue/he/structureofhe.html) governs both public and private education in NYS. Their regulations apply not only to the 64 SUNY colleges and 19 CUNY schools, but also to the 147 independent universities and 40 for-profit schools in NYS. Regulations have changed over the years. The high school equivalency regulations I’m familiar with date to ~2004, so it’s possible NYU had a program for high school students in 1995.

State residents can pay out-of-pocket for 24 specific credits to earn high school equivalency. However, since OP is international, I don’t believe that option is available.

I’d suggest OP check with individual colleges to verify their policy.

This is from Columbia’s web site.

Does Columbia allow early admission for high school juniors?

Early admission is occasionally granted to students of special promise who are completing the junior year of secondary/high school and who meet the following requirements:

an outstanding academic record
the physical, intellectual and emotional maturity to handle the rigorous program at Columbia
the full endorsement of their secondary/high schools.

In my example above, the 24 credits would be taken concurrently with their Columbia education, not separate from it. There would be no additional cost. Once they completed 24 credits they would effectively have a high school diploma in the rules you quoted.