Can You Join the Military with a GED?

January 7, 2023
Can You Join the Military with a GED?

In May of every year, most students will be looking forward to graduating from high school. Some will be taking their ACT or SAT tests in order to qualify for colleges and universities; others will be looking for jobs, or going to work for the family business.

Unfortunately, not everyone graduates from high school. They may not have attended their classes, or simply dropped out. Some may have become pregnant or were even institutionalized. Whatever the circumstance, if this applies to you, there is still a way to get your high school education through the General Educational Development (GED) program.

“The General Education Development (GED) tests are a group of four subject tests which, when passed, provide certification that the test taker has United States or Canadian high school-level academic skills.”

The GED opens a lot of doors for students who could not graduate from high school. However, when it comes to trying to join the military with a GED, things get a bit more complicated. Not every branch of the service will allow you to join with a GED. Let’s explore!

History of the GED

Ironically, the initial GED tests were formed to test military soldiers who joined before graduating high school.

“In November 1942, the United States Armed Forces Institute asked the American Council on Education (ACE) to develop a battery of tests to measure high school-level academic skills. These tests gave military personnel and veterans who had enrolled in the military before completing high school a way to demonstrate their knowledge. Passing these tests gave returning soldiers and sailors the academic credentials they needed to get civilian jobs and gain access to post-secondary education or training.”

Which Branches of Service Accept the GED?

Four of the five service branches do accept the GED. See below for information from each branch and links to enlistment requirements.

  1. Marine Enlistment Requirements

The Marine Corps website states that you must have a high school diploma. Contact your local recruiter to determine if you can join with a GED.

  1. Air Force Enlistment Requirements

The Air Force website states that they will accept a high school diploma, a GED with college credits, or a GED. However, you must meet certain requirements and wait for a specific GED slot to become open. Thus, there may be a waiting period if a position is not currently open when you are trying to join.

“GED holders must be at least 18 years of age to apply and obtain a 50-qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) as compared to a score of 31 required for applicants with high school diplomas. Note that if you are a GED holder, you can gain the same eligibility as a high school graduate by obtaining 15 or more semester hours of qualifying college credit.”

  1. Army Enlistment Requirements

The Army does accept a GED.

  1. Navy Enlistment Requirements

The Navy does accept a GED.

  1. Coast Guard Enlistment Requirements

GEDs are accepted in special circumstances.

Should You Get Some College or a Degree First?

Based on the information above it does seem that it would be best to get some college credits under your belt before trying to join with a GED — especially if you’re trying to join the Air Force. In an article entitled 80% of Military Recruitment Turned Down, states: “The caliber of each applicant has increased, and a GED is no longer enough to enter the military. If individuals do not have a high school diploma, they are encouraged to obtain about a semester’s-worth of college credits before reapplying.”

So, if joining the military is a goal for you, please do your research for each of the branches to see which one fits you best. If you don’t have your GED, look into getting it before trying to join. See more information at


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