COHS Student FAQs

Career Online High School graduates show off their diplomas as the sun sets and the sonic runway flashes neon lights behind them

What is Career Online High School (COHS)?

Career Online High School (COHS) is an accredited online high school diploma and career certification program available through the San José Public Library. The library offers scholarships (free enrollment) to a limited number of qualified, motivated students. Learn more

Who can apply to Career Online High School?

Adults (18 and over) who live in San José, have a current library card in good standing, and want to earn a high school diploma can apply. You must have completed at least the 8th grade. Students 18 and under should continue their high school education through their school district. Because all instruction is in English, you must be comfortable reading, writing, and speaking in English. All instruction is offered online, so you must be comfortable using technology or at least familiar with how to use it, including sending and receiving emails regularly and troubleshooting technology problems.

What if I don't have a library card or my card has fines?

To get a library card, visit a library branch with your picture ID that has your current address on it and a bill in your name with your current address. If you have a card with fines, learn more about paying off your fines or volunteering to reduce the amount that you owe with our Access Programs. For example, with Volunteer Away Your Fines, you can sign up and volunteer for an event. For every hour you volunteer, you can reduce the amount you owe by $20. You can also go online to get an elibrary card.

How will people be selected for the program?

Applicants will be required to take an online survey and successfully pass (70% or higher) the prerequisite course to qualify for an interview. If prospective students pass the interview (70% or higher) they will be invited to an orientation, where they will learn details about the program and available resources. When scholarships become available, qualified students will be considered for a free scholarship. Enrollment is limited and demand is high. Time management and self-motivation are essential elements for success. All phases of the program require a passing score of 70% or higher.

When can I start my coursework?

If you successfully complete the selection process above, San José Public Library may award you a free scholarship valued at $1,500 to continue in the program. At that time, a library representative will speak with you about your commitment and provide you with all of the information you need to get started. If awarded a scholarship, you will be on probation for 30 days while completing at least two more semesters. If you do not pass probation, you will not be offered another opportunity to enroll.

How long will it take me to complete the program?

Depending on whether you have qualified academic credits to transfer and how much time you spend in the program each week, you can earn your high school diploma and your career certificate in as few as 5 months. You will be given no more than 18 months to complete the program. On average, people who stay ahead of pace complete the program in about 12 months.

How much does it cost?

Career Online High School is a program offered through San José Public Library as a free service to the community and to fulfill its mission of supporting lifelong learning, community outreach, and local economic development. The San Jose Public Library foundation awards free scholarships for enrollment into COHS to adults who want a second chance to earn an accredited high school diploma and a career certificate. Students should demonstrate their commitment to completing the program through their effort and time spent on coursework. Scholarships are limited. Successful completion of the prerequisite course does not guarantee a scholarship will be awarded. If you request a transcript from one or more of your U. S. high schools or colleges, there will probably be a fee of around $5 to $15 that is your responsibility to pay.

What if I don't qualify for a scholarship?

There may be other options available to you. Please contact for more information.

Will there be a wait list?

Yes. Qualified new students who do not receive a scholarship this time may be placed on a wait list. More scholarships may be offered in the future.

I dropped out my senior year of high school. Will all of the courses I completed count toward this diploma?

Once you have completed the qualification process and have passed probation, a COHS representative will analyze your transcripts and apply credits for any coursework you completed that fulfills the credit transfer requirements. Only academic semesters will transfer. A maximum of 14 credits (English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Health, and Personal Fitness) can be transferred. There may be a fee that you must pay to send your transcript directly from your high school in the U. S. to COHS to be evaluated. A processing fee of around $5 to $15 is to send the transcript from your previous school to COHS. The COHS evaluation is free if you went to school in the U. S. If you went to school outside the U. S., you will need to pay to have your foreign school transcript evaluated and then sent to COHS. If you successfully passed some of the GED subject tests, you can request that your records are sent to COHS to be evaluated after you pass the COHS probation period.

How many credits will I need to graduate?

Students will be given up to 18 months to complete the program, which consists of 36 semesters (18 credits). Students accepted into the program can transfer up to 14 credits of Math, Social Studies, Science, English, Health, and Personal Fitness from their former school(s) if they went to school in the U. S. Students who went to school in other countries will have to either take all the coursework or have their school transcript evaluated at their own cost. Depending on how many credits the student is able to transfer, the program can be completed in as few as 5 months, but the average is 12 months. You will need to complete at least 2 semesters per month to fulfill minimum program requirements and graduate on time, but it is recommended that students complete 3 or more semesters each month..

How much time will I need to dedicate to my coursework?

The Library recommends that you spend at least 10 hours per week (minimum) on your coursework. You are expected to maintain the recommended pace completing your coursework, and your academic coach will help keep you on track! Since this program is self-paced, it is recommended that you move faster and complete more than one semester every two weeks.

Is the coursework available in languages other than English?

No. All coursework is in English and students should be comfortable listening, reading, and understanding English.

When can I work on my courses?

Courses are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with internet access.

What if I need help with my coursework?

Your academic coach will connect you with a certified instructor, who will provide you with additional academic support when needed. San José Public Library offers resources to help you stay on pace. Please call our office for more information.

What is the career portfolio?

To give you the tools you need to find a job, COHS will teach you to create essential documents, such as your resume and a cover letter.

What type of career certification will be offered?

Through COHS, students may earn a career certificate in one of the following nine areas:

  • Child Care 
  • Commercial Driving
  • Food and Hospitality
  • General Career Preparation
  • Home Care Professional
  • Hospitality and Leisure
  • Office Management
  • Retail/Customer Service
  • Security Professional

Students and community members can learn more about the Career Certificates.

If I choose an area such as child care, how will I train to work with children?

COHS provides you with all of the coursework you need in order to qualify for a child care certification. You will need to find a local agency to fulfill the hands-on training hours required.

Will students receive their General Educational Development (GED) Certificate?

No. This is not a GED program. Successful graduates will earn an accredited high school diploma and a career certificate. However, if you have already passed part of the GED you can send in your records directly to COHS after you pass probation.

What is the difference between a GED and a high school diploma?

While both the GED and the high school diploma are important, there are several differences between them; among the most significant is the fact that some colleges, institutions and organizations require a high school diploma and may not accept the GED. In addition to providing a high school diploma, COHS gives students the benefit of earning a career certificate and completing additional job preparation documents and training. The GED consists of four tests offered on a computer. Contact the Santa Clara County Office of Education to find testing centers near San José. Visit the GED website to learn more about the tests. The San José Public Library has GED preparation materials available.

What if I completed all my high school requirements and courses except passing the CAHSEE tests in math and English?

If you completed 12th grade and all high school credits between the years 2003 and 2015 but didn’t pass the CAHSEE exams, you may be eligible to receive your high school diploma now. Contact your most recent high school or school district regarding your eligibility.

What if I don't have a computer or internet access?

Please contact the San José Public Library to discuss your options. Students will need to complete at least 10 hours of coursework per week on a computer with internet access. If computer access is a problem, we will work with you to identify a library or community location where you might be able to complete your work. You may also be able to check out a laptop from the San Jose Public Library. Please visit our technology access page to check on availability. 

Students must check to confirm that a computer meets the system requirements here: Read all of the technology requirements and click on Technology System Check link.

Will I need to buy textbooks?

No; however, the English coursework may require novels, which you can buy or check out of the San José Public Library.

Is Career Online High School accredited?

Yes. Career Online High School is accredited (or licensed) by Cognia/SACS/NCA/NWAC. Cognia is the national commission that confers the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) accreditation seal.

Cognia provides nationally recognized accreditation for school districts and individual schools and represents 36,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and in 80 countries around the world, educating 25 million students. Learn more about the District Accreditation Process at

Does the Library offer other resources for adult education and job preparation?

The San José Public Library (SJPL) is committed to helping people meet their education and job preparation needs. We offer job search programs and computer assistance at library branches. SJPL Works is based on the third floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. Staff there can help with everything from searching for a job to starting a small business.

The San José Public Library Partners in Reading adult literacy program also offers one-to-one and small group tutoring for adults who want to build basic reading, writing, and technology skills. Partners in Reading can help prepare students who may want to earn a diploma or GED in the future after building their basic skills. You can also use online learning programs through the San José Public Library's website to study more and brush up on your basic skills.

What do successful COHS students need to do in order to graduate?

Students who have been successful in the program study every day. They make getting their high school diploma a priority, even though they are very busy and have a lot going on in their lives. They commit to improving time management and organizational skills so they can complete their coursework efficiently and learn as much as possible. They communicate regularly with Partners in Reading staff and with their COHS academic coach. They ask for help when needed, but they are also self-motivated and comfortable working independently. Most of all, they are determined and able to finish something they start. COHS students at the San José Public Library have been extremely successful. They have a 70% graduation rate, and more than 115 students have graduated since the program began in February 2016.