Graduation Requirements

High School Graduation Requirements and Considerations

What is a credit? - A credit is granted in recognition of the successful completion of a course that has been scheduled for a minimum of 110 hours, and has been developed from a Ministry of Education curriculum guideline or has been approved by the Ministry.

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)

This diploma is granted, on the recommendation of the principal of the secondary school last attended, to a student who has accumulated a minimum of thirty credits. This includes 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits. Forty hours of community involvement and successful completion of the literacy requirement must also be achieved.

Compulsory Credits (total of 18)

  • 4 credits in English (1 credit per grade)
    • The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC) may be used to meet the Grade 11 or 12 English compulsory credit requirement
    • The Grade 11 Contemporary Aboriginal Voices course may be used to meet the Grade 11 English compulsory credit requirement
  • 3 credits in mathematics (at least 1 credit in Grade 11 or 12)
  • 2 credits in science
  • 1 credit in Canadian history
  • 1 credit in Canadian geography
  • 1 credit in the arts (music, art, drama, or dance)
  • 1 credit in health and physical education
  • 1 credit in French as a second language
  • 1/2 credit in civics and
  • 1/2 credit in career studies


  • Group 1: English (including the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course), French as a second language, classical languages, international languages, Native languages, Canadian and world studies, Native studies, social sciences and humanities, guidance and career education, co-operative education
  • Group 2: French as a second language, the arts, business studies, health and physical education, co-operative education
  • Group 3: French as a second language, science (Grade 11 or 12), computer studies, technological education, co-operative education

Note: The following conditions apply to selections from the above three groups:

  • A maximum of 2 credits in French as a second language may count as additional compulsory credits, 1 credit from Group 1, and 1 credit from either Group 2 or Group 3.
  • A maximum of 2 credits in co-operative education may count as additional compulsory credits, selected from any of Groups 1, 2, or 3.

12 Optional Credits

In addition to the 18 compulsory credits, students have to earn 12 optional credits in courses of their choice, selected from the full list of courses available in the school. Optional credits allow students to build an educational program that suits their individual interests and meets university, college, apprenticeship or work requirements.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)

All students must successfully complete the literacy requirement to earn a Secondary School Graduation Diploma. For most students this requirement will be met through the administration of the Literacy Test in the spring of Grade 10.

The test is based on Ontario curriculum expectations for language and communication, particularly reading and writing, up to and including Grade 9. The test will identify areas for remediation for students who are unsuccessful in completing the test.

Students who write the test but do not succeed may retake the test and must successfully complete both the reading and writing components to pass. There is no limit to the number of times the test may be taken.


Students who are receiving Special Education programs and services that have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may receive the accommodations that are set out in the students' IEP.


Deferral of the test may occur for students who might benefit. This would include students who have been identified as exceptional and students registered in English as a second language/English Literacy Development courses who have not yet acquired the level of proficiency in English required for successfully completing the test.

The principal determines if a deferral should be granted and time period for the deferral.


Students whose IEP indicates that the student is not working towards the attainment of a Secondary School Graduation Diploma or Ontario Secondary School Diploma may, with parental consent and approval of the principal, be exempted from participating in the Literacy Test.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC)

Students may also meet the literacy requirements for graduation by successfully completing the OSSLC. This course is designed to help students acquire and demonstrate the cross-curricular literacy skills that are evaluated by the test. Students will read a variety of informational, narrative, and graphic texts and will produce a variety of forms of writing, including summaries, information paragraphs, opinion pieces, and news reports. Students will also maintain and manage a portfolio containing a record of their reading experiences and samples of their writing.

To be eligible to take the course, students must have attempted the OSSLT at least once and been unsuccessful in that attempt. This course can also be used to count as the Grade 11 or Grade 12 English compulsory course.

Literacy Adjudication Process

At the end of the school year, a school board adjudication panel may provide certain students with an additional opportunity to meet the literacy graduation requirement. These students include those who would otherwise be eligible to graduate but, through no fault of their own, have not been able to take advantage of the normal opportunities to write the OSSLT and/or have not been able to enrol in or complete the OSSLC, owing to unforeseen circumstances.

Also eligible for the adjudication process are students who were receiving special education programs or services, and who had an IEP documenting required accommodations, but, owing to unforeseen circumstances, did not have access to these accommodations when they were taking the OSSLT.

Community Service Requirements

Visit community service requirements for additional information.