High school graduation requirements

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) requirements

To earn an OSSD, a student must complete three required components: 30 credits, community involvement hours, and a literacy requirement.

30 credits

Students must earn a minimum of 30 credits, including 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits. The combination of compulsory and optional courses is designed to provide all students with the essential knowledge and skills they will need to function effectively in any area of activity, as well as the opportunities to acquire the specialized knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in their chosen post-secondary endeavours.

Community involvement

Students must complete 40 hours of community involvement, which encourages students to develop awareness and understanding of civic responsibility and of the role they can play and the contributions they can make in supporting and strengthening their communities. Student community involvement activities may take place in a variety of settings, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, public sector institutions (including hospitals), and information settings.

Grade 10 literacy requirement

In Grade 10, students take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), which determines whether or not they are meeting the minimum standard for literacy across all subjects. If students don’t succeed the first time the test is written, they will have another opportunity. Schools also have the option of offering students a course in place of the test after the first attempt. Read more at ocsb.ca/assessment

OSSD requirements (30 total credits)
English (4)
Mathematics (3)
Science (2)
Canadian Geography (1)
Canadian History (1)
Arts (1)
Health and Physical Education (1)
French as a Second Language (FSL) (1)
Career Studies (0.5)
Civics (0.5)
1 Credit in any of the following Group 1 credits:
English or French as a Second Language (FSL); Native Language; Classical or International Language; Social sciences and the Humanities; Canadian and World Studies; Guidance and Career Education; or Cooperative Education
1 Credit in any of the following Group 2 credits:
Health and Physical Education; Arts; Business Studies; French as a Second Language (FSL); or Cooperative Education
1 Credit in any of the following Group 3 credits:
Science (Grade 11 or 12); Technological Education; Computer Studies; French as a Second Language (FSL); or Cooperative Education
Optional credits (12)

Notes regarding OSSD credit achievement

  • Contemporary Aboriginal Voices (NBE3E, NBE3C, or NBE3U) can count as a grade 11 compulsory English credit.
  • A maximum of 3 credits in English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Literacy Development (ELD) may be counted towards the 4 compulsory credits in English, but the fourth must be a credit earned for a Grade 12 compulsory English course
  • The Grade 9 Expressions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Cultures course may be used to meet the compulsory requirement in Arts
  • A maximum of 2 credits in Cooperative Education can count as compulsory credits
  • in Groups 1, 2 and 3, a maximum of 2 credits in French as a Second Language (FSL) can count as compulsory credits, one from Group 1 and one from either Group 2 or Group 3
  • The 12 optional credits may include up to 4 credits earned through approved dual credit courses, dual credits cannot be used as substitutions for compulsory credit requirements

Additional certifications along with your OSSD

Our high school students have the opportunity to earn a number of different certifications when they graduate. Students should keep these certification requirements in mind when choosing electives. See your school’s guidance counsellor for more information.

Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Diploma

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) encourages students to focus their secondary school education toward a career area of their choice. Students can earn a SHSM program creditation no matter what their postsecondary plans — work, apprenticeship, or college/university. Students who successfully complete an SHSM receive:

  • An Ontario Secondary School Diploma with an embossed SHSM seal
  • SHSM Record documenting student achievement
  • Formal recognition on the Ontario Student Transcript

This formal recognition lets employers and postsecondary education know that the student has knowledge, skills, and industry-recognized qualifications related to a particular career field.

French as a Second Language (Core or Immersion) Certificate

Two separate French as a Second Language (FSL) programs are available for students — Core French or Immersion French. Both programs aim to foster an interest in French language learning that will continue throughout the student’s life. An FSL certificate is awarded to students who have pursued a concentrated study in French.

A Core French Certificate includes successfully completing 4 French language courses, including the Grade 11 and 12 Core French courses.

An Immersion French Certificate includes successfully completing 10 courses — 4 French language courses and 6 additional courses taught in French. A cooperative education placement, linked to a French credit, may be included toward the 6 additional credits.

Business Studies Certificate

Business Studies Certificate is awarded to students who have pursued a concentrated study in business by completing a minimum number of Business Studies credits. Students are required to complete a minimum of five (5) credits, either through Business Studies courses (‘B’ codes), CIC3E, CIE3M, CIA4U (Economics), or cooperative education credits tied to Business courses. See your guidance counsellor for more information.

Technological Education Certificate

Students can earn a Technological Education certificate by completing a minimum of 5 credits, either through Technological Education courses (‘T’ codes), or cooperative education credits tied to Technological Education courses. See a guidance counsellor for more information.

Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC) requirements

An OSSC will be granted upon request to students who have earned a minimum of 14 credits distributed as outlined here:

OSSC requirements (14 total credits)
Compulsory credits (7)
English (2)
Canadian Geography or Canadian History (1)
Mathematics (1)
Science (1)
Health and Physical Education (1)
Arts or Technological Education (1)
Optional credits (7)

Certificate of Accomplishment requirements

Students who do not fulfill the requirements for the OSSD or the OSSC may be granted a Certificate of Accomplishment. The Certificate of Accomplishment may be a useful means of recognizing achievement for students who plan to continue with vocational programs, other training opportunities and/or employment after leaving school.

Substitutions for compulsory credit requirements

In order to provide the flexibility to tailor individual student’s courses to program and need and to support a student’s progress through secondary school, principals may substitute up to three compulsory credits with courses from other subject areas specified in the list of compulsory credit requirements (including Groups 1, 2 and 3).