We changed two of the requirements for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year. Graduating students:

  • are not required to complete the literacy graduation requirement
  • must complete a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement (reduced from 40 hours)

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 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
  • Langue des signes québécoise langue seconde

Group 2:

  • health and physical education
  • the arts
  • business studies
  • French as a second language
  • cooperative education
  • American Sign Language as a second language
  • Langue des signes québécoise langue seconde

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
  • Langue des signes québécoise langue seconde

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

  • 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, selected from any of the above three groups.

Please note that the Langue des signes québécoise langue seconde course is only available in French-language schools.

English as a second language (ESL) and English literacy development (ELD)

Students may count a maximum of 3 credits in ESL or ELD towards the 4 compulsory credits in English.

The fourth credit must be for 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 4 credits earned through approved dual credit programs.

Literacy graduation requirement

This requirement is waived for students graduating in the 2021-22 school year. This requirement will be restored for students graduating in the 2022-23 school year.

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.

Community involvement hours

For students who are graduating in the 2021-2022 school year, we reduced the graduation requirement to a minimum of 20 hours of community involvement activities. The community involvement graduation requirement of 40 hours will be restored in 2022-23. 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:

  • make sure they know which activities qualify for the community involvement requirement
  • check their school board’s website for a list of eligible and ineligible activities, as well as, resources to help them record hours and find volunteer activities
  • visit the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network to find opportunities through a centre in their community
  • browse SPARKOntario to discover volunteering opportunities, including virtual opportunities, and connect with local community organizations
  • ask their principal or guidance counsellor for more information

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, for example, walking a younger child to and from school or helping younger siblings with school work
  • duties normally performed at home, for example, helping an elderly relative with errands or providing after school care for a sibling

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.

Updated: July 22, 2021
Published: June 10, 2020