The desire to serve your country and the potential for career development offered by the US Army attracts many young individuals. However, eligibility can be a concern for those who have yet to complete high school or earn a GED (General Educational Development) credential.

As of April 2024, the landscape for joining the Army without a diploma is complex. Let’s explore the current situation and alternative paths to achieve your goal.

The Traditional Requirement: Diploma or GED Preferred

Historically, a high school diploma or GED has been a mandatory requirement for enlistment in the Army as this ensures a baseline level of academic achievement and indicates the ability to grasp technical concepts that may be crucial in military training.

Earning a GED demonstrates initiative and the capacity to learn independently, qualities valued by the Army.

Military Entrance
During a recent Military Entrance Processing Station on Fort Gregg-Adams (Image source: DVIDS)

A Brief Window of Opportunity in 2022

In mid-2022, the Army briefly waived the diploma/GED requirement in an effort to address recruiting challenges, allowing aspiring Soldiers to enlist without formal education credentials under specific circumstances.

However, the program was short-lived and suspended a week later, as reported back in June 2022, as “the move was met with some mockery online and accusations of it being a desperate measure, lowering standards […]

The Navy’s Approach in 2024

While the Army no longer offers enlistment without a diploma or GED in 2024, the Navy has implemented a similar waiver program.

They’re seeking to expand their applicant pool and are currently accepting individuals who meet a minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) even without a formal education credential.