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Diploma Requirements

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) Requirements

In order to earn the OSSD, a student must:

  • Earn 18 compulsory credits
  • Earn 12 optional credits
  • Complete 40 hours of community service activities
  • Successfully complete the Ontario secondary school literacy test

18 compulsory credits

Students must earn the following compulsory credits to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma:

  • 4 credits in English (1 credit per grade)*
  • 3 credits in mathematics (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
  • 1 credit in health and physical education
  • 1 credit in French as a second language
  • 0.5 credit in career studies
  • 0.5 credit in civics

Plus one credit from each of the following groups:

Group 1:

  • English or French as a second language**
  • a Native language
  • a classical or an international language
  • social sciences and the humanities
  • Canadian and world studies
  • guidance and career education
  • cooperative education***

Group 2:

  • health and physical education
  • the arts
  • business studies
  • French as a second language**
  • cooperative education***

Group 3:

  • science (Grade 11 or 12)
  • technological education
  • French as a second language**
  • computer studies
  • cooperative education***

*A maximum of 3 credits in ESL or ELD may be counted towards the OSSD.  The fourth English must be a grade 12 compulsory English.

** In groups 1, 2 and 3, a maximum of 2 credits in French as a second language can count as compulsory credits, one from group 1 and one from either group 2 or group 3.

*** A maximum of 2 credits in cooperative education can count as compulsory credits. † The 12 optional credits may include up to 4 credits earned through approved dual credit courses.

12 optional credits

In addition to the 18 Compulsory Credits, students must earn 12 optional credits. Selection of optional courses will be determined by students’ planned career destination. Consultation with parents, classroom teachers and guidance teachers will help students determine the best optional courses for their educational program. To ensure thorough academic preparation, students are encouraged to explore a wide variety of optional courses and may choose to stay in Secondary School beyond four years.

40 hours of community service

Students must complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement as a requirement of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. These 40 hours may be completed at any time during the student’s high school years and may take place in a variety of settings, including not-for-profit organizations, businesses, public sector institutions, and informal settings. Students, in collaboration with their parents will decide how they will complete the community involvement requirement. Students may complete any number of eligible activities as outlined in the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board Community Involvement pamphlet available from the school’s guidance department. Activities must be completed outside of normal instructional school hours, may not be a part of a credit program and students may not receive pay for their community involvement activities. Students will maintain a record of their community involvement activities on their Community Involvement Completion Form. The purpose of community involvement is to encourage students to develop an awareness and understanding of civic responsibility and – of the role they can play to contribute to their communities. Examples of community involvement activities include: activities within the school such as Student Council committee work, helping an elderly neighbour, volunteering at a local hospital, helping a community event and tutoring an elementary school student.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test

The successful completion of the Grade 10 Literacy Test is required for graduation. The test will be administered in the spring of the student’s grade 10 school year. This test will measure how well students are meeting the reading and writing expectations across all subjects in the provincial curriculum up to the end of grade 9. Students who are not successful will be provided with remedial assistance and given the opportunity to rewrite the test.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course

The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course has been developed to provide students who have been unsuccessful on the Grade Ten Literacy Test with intensive support in achieving the required reading and writing skills, and with an alternative means of demonstrating acquisition of those skills. Students eligible to take this course are those who have had an opportunity to write the Literacy Test and who have been unsuccessful. Students who successfully complete this course will have met the provincial requirement for graduation and will earn one credit. The credit earned may be used to meet either the Grade 12 English compulsory credit requirement or the Group 1 additional compulsory credit requirement.

Online learning graduation requirement

Beginning with students who entered Grade 9 in teh 2020-21 school year, studetns must earn at least two online learning credits to get their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.  The online learning graduation requirement also applies to adult learners that will be entering the Ontario secondary school system starting in 2023-24 school year.

Credits earned during COVID-19

Students can count one secondary school credit that was earned during the province wide school closures (from April 2021 to June 2021) towards the two online learning credits that they need to graduate. This applies to all Grade 9 students who were learning remotely due to the province wide school closures.

Opting out

Parents who wish to opt out or exempt their child from the online graduation requirement must complete the opt-out form available from their child’s school board. Exemption from the online learning graduation requirements may be requested by:

  • the parent or guardian of the secondary student
  • students who are 18 years of age or older
  • students who are 16 or 17 years of age and have withdrawn from parental control


Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC) Requirements

The Ontario Secondary School Certificate will be granted on request to students who leave school before earning the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, provided they have earned a minimum of 14 credits distributed as follows:

Compulsory Credits (total of 7)

  • 2 credits in English
  • 1 credit in Canadian Geography or Canadian History
  • 1 credit in Mathematics
  • 1 credit in Science
  • 1 credit in Health and Physical Education
  • 1 credit in the Arts or Technological Education

Optional Credits (total of 7)


Certificate of Accomplishment Requirements

The Certificate of Accomplishment may be granted on request to students who leave school before earning the Ontario Secondary School Diploma or the Ontario Secondary School Certificate.  There are no compulsory courses required for this certificate.


Types of Courses

Grades 9 & 10:

Academic Courses

Academic courses emphasize essential concepts in a subject and the theory related to these concepts. These courses are required preparation for university/college and college level courses in the senior grades.

Applied Courses

Applied courses focus on developing knowledge and skills by emphasizing practical, concrete application of the concepts being taught. These courses lead to workplace and college level courses in senior grades.

Open Courses

Open courses are suitable for all students, regardless of their post secondary destination. They are offered in non-compulsory subjects and contain course expectations suitable for all students at a given grade level.

Locally Developed Courses

Locally developed courses are designed to accommodate students who experience difficulty with the provincial curriculum. Placement is determined through the I.P.R.C. process or at the recommendation of teachers and counsellors. These courses are available in English, Math and Science in Grade 9 and English, Math and History in Grade 10.

Crossover Courses

Students wishing to move from Grade 9 Applied to Grade 10 Academic or Grade 9 Academic to Grade 10 Applied are permitted to complete crossover course material. It is provided through the Independent Learning Centre website at www.ilc.org. No credits are offered for students completing crossover material.

Grades 11 & 12:

University Preparation Courses

University preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for university programs.

University/College Preparation Courses

University/college preparation courses include content that is relevant for both university and college programs. These courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for specific university and college programs.

College Preparation Courses

College preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for college programs.

Workplace Preparation Courses

Workplace preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need for direct entry into the workplace or for admission to apprenticeship programs and other training programs offered in the community.

Open Courses

In Grades 11 & 12, Open Courses allow students at a given grade to broaden their knowledge and skills in a particular subject that is related primarily to their interests and which may or may not be related to their post secondary goals.


Description of 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 for a full credit or 55 hours for a half credit. Each credit has been developed according to the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Course Codes are used to record the credit in the Ontario Student transcript.  Course Codes reflect government stipulations across the province. All courses have the first five characters mandated by the Ministry of Education and the sixth character indicates credit value.


Policies on Substitutions for Compulsory Courses

Up to 3 compulsory courses may be substituted at the discretion of the principal in order to meet the needs of individual students. The total number of credits required for a diploma remains at 30.


Alternate Ways of Earning Credits

While the majority of students will earn credits in the school, some may consider alternative ways. These include correspondence through the Independent Learning Centre, independent study,  continuing education and summer school. See a guidance counsellor or administrator to find out about the availability and accessibility of these courses in our school area.

Eastside students have the option of learning at one of two alternative sites:  

  • SHAPE in Belleville
  • HOPE in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

PLAR - Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) for Mature students Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) for Mature Students is the formal evaluation and credit granting process through which mature students, who are enrolled in a secondary school course, may obtain credits for prior learning. Mature students may obtain credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) for knowledge and skills that they have acquired, in both formal and informal ways, outside secondary school. The PLAR process involves:

1. Grade 9 and 10 individual assessment/equivalency process

2. Grade 11 and 12 equivalency process

3. Grade 11 and 12 challenge process

In all cases, the knowledge and skills gained through education, work experience, and training must be directly related to the provincial curriculum expectations. By using this process, mature students may be granted up to 26 credits towards their OSSD by the Principal. For more information and details about how to apply, or to obtain a brochure on the PLAR Process for Mature Students and Fact Sheets on each PLAR process, please go to the Student Services Office.