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Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM)

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a specialized program that allows students to focus on a career path that matches their skills, interests, and talents while working towards their high school diploma. The program also help students transition into their chosen path once they graduate. By taking a specific cluster of courses, students gain specific skills and knowledge related to their chosen field. SHSMs encourage 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 will gain:


  • a customized high school education suited to student interests and talents
  • the development of specialized knowledge and skills
  • targeted training and certifications relevant to a chosen career
  • experience documented through the Ontario Skills Passport

SHSMs at the OCSB

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Required SHSM components

Students enrolled in a SHSM must complete five components:

  • specified number of high school courses
  • specified sector-recognized certification and training courses
  • experiential learning and career exploration activities
  • “reach ahead” experiences
  • a Sector Partnered Contextualized Component (SPCC)

The experiential learning opportunities must be connected to the student’s post-secondary pathway, and range from several hours to full courses. An experiential (exploring) learning activity connected with the student’s post-secondary pathway can be considered a “reach ahead” (focusing) experience. The activity can be recorded only once on the student’s SHSM record as either an experiential learning activity or a “reach ahead” experience.

The Sector Partnered Contextualized Component (SPCC) component includes one of the following options: Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) training; sector-delivered contextualized coding; or, sector-delivered mathematical literacy. The SPCC will require an approximately 6 hour activity, delivered with a sector partner and have an experiential and an assessment component.

Explore 13 SHSM programs at the OCSB

High school diploma with a “Specialist” designation

Students who successfully complete an SHSM will receive a high school diploma with a “specialist” designation. The Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) will include an embossed seal, along with formal recognition on his/her Ontario Student Transcript (OST). This recognition lets employers and postsecondary education know that the student has knowledge, skills, and industry-recognized qualifications related to a particular career field.

Arts & Culture

Offered at All Saints and St. Peter High School


Offered at St. Mother Teresa High School

Health & Wellness

Offered at Holy Trinity, St. Matthew, All Saints, and St. Patrick’s High Schools

Justice, Community Safety & Emergency Services

Offered at Lester B. Pearson, St. Pius X, and St. Francis Xavier High Schools


Offered at Holy Trinity and St. Mark High Schools


Offered at St. Mark and St. Peter High Schools

Hospitality & Tourism

Offered at St. Patrick’s High School


Offered at Sacred Heart and St. Matthew High Schools


Offered at Lester B. Pearson, St. Francis Xavier, St. Matthew, and St. Paul High Schools


Offered at Lester B. Pearson High School


Offered at Notre Dame, Sacred Heart, and St. Mark High Schools

Information & Communications Technology

Offered at All Saints, Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Mother Teresa, and St. Patrick’s, and St. Paul High Schools


Offered at All Saints and Notre Dame High Schools