Understanding types of courses and credits

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High School Graduation Requirements, Assessments and Expectations

Courses use a six-character course code for identification. The first five characters of the course code are set out by the Ministry of Education. The sixth character is used by school boards to identify a specific characteristic of the course.



These three letters identify the subject, such as English, Arts, Business etc.


This indicator is used to distinguish the grade level (or the level of English language proficiency for ESL and EDL students):

  • 1 = Grade 9
  • 2 = Grade 10
  • 3 = Grade 11
  • 4 = Grade 12
  • A,B,C,D,E = level of English proficiency

This letter identifies the course type:

Grades 9-10:

  • D = Academic
  • L = Locally developed
  • P = Applied
  • O = Open
  • W = Destreamed

Grades 11-12:

  • C = College
  • E = Workplace
  • M = University/College
  • O = Open
  • U = University

This sixth character is sometimes added to identify a specific characteristic of the course:

  • F = Female
  • I = Immersion
  • M = Male
  • R = Regular
  • J or V = E-learning

Prerequisite course

Prerequisite refers to a course that must be successfully completed in order to be eligible to enrol in another course at the next grade level.

Defining credit types

A credit is granted in recognition of successful completion of a course for which a minimum of 110 hours of learning time has been scheduled.

Compulsory credit

There is a set of 18 compulsory (mandatory) credits that students must successfully complete in order to meet the requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Optional credit

Students must successfully complete 12 optional (additional) credits from areas of interest and/or pathways. These credits will contribute to the 30-credit requirement for an OSSD.

Defining course types

There are several different course types in Grades 9-12. In grades 11 and 12, students will focus more on individual interests and identify and prepare for initial post-secondary goals.

Grade 9 and 10 course types

Academic courses (D)

Academic courses focus on the essential concepts of the discipline and additional materials. They develop students’ knowledge and skills by emphasizing theoretical and abstract thinking while incorporating practical applications as a basis for future learning and problem-solving.

Locally developed course (L)

Locally developed compulsory credit courses are intended for students who require a measure of flexibility and support in order to meet the compulsory credit requirements in English, mathematics, and science for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC). These types of courses help prepare students for further study in courses from the curriculum policy documents for these disciplines.

Applied courses (P)

Applied courses in Grades 9 and 10 focus on the essential concepts of the discipline. They develop students’ knowledge and skills by emphasizing practical, concrete applications of the essential concepts while incorporating theoretical elements as appropriate. Familiar, real-life situations are used to illustrate ideas, along with more opportunities to experience practical applications of the concepts they study.

Open courses (O)

Open courses in Grades 9 and 10 are offered in all subjects other than those offered as academic, applied and locally developed. For example, open courses are offered in visual arts, music and health and physical education, but not in English, mathematics, science, French as a second language, history or geography. An open course comprises a set of expectations that is suitable for all students and is not linked to any specific post-secondary destination. These courses are designed to provide students with a broad educational base that will prepare them for their studies in Grades 11 and 12 and for productive participation in society.

De-streamed courses (W)

De-streamed courses develop students’ knowledge and skills by helping them understand the theory behind concepts, and identify practical applications of concepts.

Grade 11 and 12 course types

College (C) Grades 11-12

College preparation courses provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the entrance requirements for most college programs and possible apprenticeships. Courses focus on practical applications and also examine underlying theories.

Workplace (E) Grades 11-12

Workplace preparation courses prepare students to move directly into the workplace after high school or to be admitted into select apprenticeship programs or other training programs in the community. Courses focus on employment skills and on practical workplace applications of the subject content. Many workplace preparation courses involve cooperative education and work experience placements, which allow students to get practical experience in a workplace.

University/College (M) Grades 11-12

University/College preparation courses are offered to prepare students to meet the entrance requirements of certain university and college programs. They focus on both theory and practical applications.

Open courses (O) Grades 11-12

Open courses in Grades 11 and 12 are appropriate for all students. These courses allow students to broaden their knowledge and skills in a particular subject that may or may not be directly related to their post-secondary goals, but that reflect their interests.

University (U) Grades 11-12

University preparation courses provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet university entrance requirements. Courses emphasize theoretical aspects of the subject and also consider related applications.

Other course types

K Courses

K courses consist of alternative expectations that are developed to help students with special education needs acquire knowledge and skills that are not represented in the Ontario curriculum. Because they are not part of a subject or course outlined in the provincial curriculum documents, alternative expectations are considered to constitute alternative programs or alternative courses.

Some students may remain in secondary school for up to 7 years, with a planned Community Living pathway. Students may experience a specific K course subject area twice in one year and several times over many years. Each experience will be unique, with its own K course code and learning goals consistent with those recorded on the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). The student will not be granted a credit for the successful completion of a K course that consists of alternative expectations.

Selecting courses using myBlueprint

All of the course offerings at the OCSB are connected to the mobile-friendly myBlueprint Education Planner. All of the course descriptions for courses offered at your school are available once logged in to your myBlueprint account. 

Students are required to use this online tool to make their course selections. By assigning specific tasks to complete at each grade level, the tool takes a step-by-step approach to helping students reflect upon their skills, explore their interests, and set their goals. Students should use it often to explore the options available to them at each stage of their educational journey.

So log in and get started designing your future!

Create a parent account

Parents are welcome to create an account to explore the features of myBlueprint. Once you login, you can review the tool’s features, and can even link to your child’s account to view their planning progress.

Do you need information in an alternate format?

Call us at 613-224-4455 Ext 2306 if you are having trouble viewing information on our website. Email us at Accessibility@ocsb.ca if you need information presented to you in an alternate format. Tell us your name, what you are looking for, and how to get it to you.

Course Descriptions

Set aside some dedicated time to review the course offerings, course descriptions, and prerequisites outlined in our online course descriptions pages, found in the table below.

Please remember that not all courses are offered at every OCSB high school. Consult your myBlueprint account for the courses offerings at your school.