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What you need to graduate

To earn a high school diploma in Ontario, students must:

Compulsory Credits

Students must earn the following 18 compulsory credits to get their Ontario Secondary School Diploma:

  • 4 credits in English (1 credit per grade)

  • 3 credits in mathematics (at least 1 credit in Grade 11 or 12)

  • 3 credits for group 1, 2 and 3 courses (1 credit in each group)

  • 2 credits in science

  • 1 credit in Canadian history (Grade 10)

  • 1 credit in Canadian geography (Grade 9)

  • 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 and citizenship

Group 1, 2 and 3 Compulsory Credits

Of the 18 compulsory credits, students must complete one from each of the following groups:

Group 1

  • English (including the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course) or French as a second language

  • Native languages

  • First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies

  • Classical studies and international languages

  • social sciences and the humanities

  • Canadian and world studies

  • Guidance and career education

  • Cooperative education

  • American Sign Language as a second language

Group 2

  • Health and physical education

  • The arts

  • Business studies

  • French as a second language

  • Cooperative education

  • American Sign Language as a second language

Group 3

  • Science (Grade 11 or 12)

  • Technological education

  • French as a second language

  • Computer studies

  • Cooperative education

  • American Sign Language as a second language


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

  • In groups 1, 2, and 3, a maximum of two 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.

    • Students who have taken Native languages in place of French as a second language in elementary school may use a Level 1 or 2 Native languages course to meet the compulsory credit requirement for French as a second language.

  • A maximum of two credits in cooperative education can count as compulsory credits, selected from any of the above three groups.

  • The Grade 11 English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices course may be used to meet the Grade 11 English compulsory credit requirement.

  • The Grade 9 Expressions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Cultures course may be used to meet the compulsory credit requirement in the arts.

English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Literacy Development (ELD)

Students who are English language learners may count up to three credits in ESL or ELD towards the four compulsory credits in English.

The fourth credit must be a Grade 12 compulsory English course.

Optional Credits

Students must earn 12 optional credits by successfully completing courses offered in their school’s program and course calendar.

Optional credits may include up to four credits earned through approved dual credit programs.

Literacy Graduation Requirement

Beginning September 2022, the literacy graduation requirement is restored and students graduating in the 2022-23 school year and beyond are required to meet this requirement.

All students must meet the secondary school literacy graduation requirement to earn their high school diploma.

For most students, this means passing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).

Students who do not successfully complete the OSSLT have other opportunities to meet the literacy graduation requirement. Students can contact their school principal to find out about these options.

Online Learning Graduation Requirement

Beginning with students that entered Grade 9 in the 2020-21 school year, students 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

Community Involvement Hours

Students are required to complete 40 hours of community involvement activities in order to earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Students working towards their OSSD should make sure they meet these graduation requirements in time for their graduating year.

Students can start accumulating their community involvement hours in the summer before entering Grade 9.

Students who are looking for community involvement opportunities should:

If approved by your school’s principal, students may count the following towards their community involvement hours: 

  • up to 10 hours of paid employment if a student is 14 years or older and completes a reflection exercise demonstrating how their work contributed to their community

  • community involvement during school time

  • duties normally performed at home

Students under 18 years old should consult with their parents to plan and select their community involvement activities, according to ministry guidelines. Students should also speak to their guidance counsellor about other ways their school could allow them to earn community involvement hours this year.

The community involvement requirement is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop awareness and understanding about civic responsibility. Students can actively participate in supporting and strengthening their communities. It also provides the opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and possible career opportunities.

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