Can You Enroll in the U.S. Army with a GED Diploma?

Learn what you have to do to join up without a high school diploma

Black soldier using computer in class
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Those seeking to join the U.S. Army must have a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate to enlist. However, that almost certainly will not be enough — the Army only allows a tiny fraction of its total enlistments each year to have a GED.

These days, the Army needs fewer soldiers overall, and the qualifications of those who are applying to enlist are higher. All but one or two percent of those enlisting in recent years hold a high school diploma, and the majority score in the 50th percentile or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Therefore, if you want to join the Army but you only have a GED, you'll face an uphill battle.

Getting Into the Army with a GED

If you hold a GED and want to join the Army, you certainly can apply and see if you get in. As with all other potential recruits, you'll need to be between the ages of 17 and 34, have no more than two dependents, and pass the Armed Services Qualification Test with a minimum score of 31.

You'll also need to have a clean record (a criminal record may disqualify you from service), and to meet Army physical requirements. Many potential recruits are passed by because of obesity or other disqualifying medical conditions.

However, even if you meet all the other requirements, in all likelihood you won't be accepted with just a GED. That's because the Army has plenty of people from which to choose these days, and can choose those with the highest qualifications.

Therefore, your best bet if you have a GED instead of a high school diploma is to earn some college credits.

If you earn 15 college credits (one semester's worth), your chances of being accepted improve dramatically. Your chances continue to rise with increasing numbers of college credits.

Army GED Plus Enlistment Program

The Army used to run a special enlistment program designed for disadvantaged youths who had neither a high school diploma or a GED.

This program, called the Army GED Plus Enlistment Program, had enabled applicants who didn't possess a high school diploma or a GED to be sponsored by the Army to obtain a GED for enlistment purposes.

The GED Plus Enlistment Program was only available in certain areas with high concentrations of disadvantaged youths, and the number of enrollees was limited. Those enrolling needed to score 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, score 46 or higher on the Assessment of Individual Motivation (AIM) test, be at least 18 years old, and be in good moral standing.

The Army actually enrolled GED candidates at two locations: at Fort Jackson in South Carolina for the regular Army, and at Camp Robinson in Arkansas for the Army National Guard. Those who passed the GED exam proceeded directly to enrollment.

However, the Army no longer needs this program, since it is enlisting fewer active-duty soldiers overall. The program closed in 2013.

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