Earning an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)

Peak Academy is a Ministry of Education accredited private high school. A student can accumulate credits towards an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), just like students at any Ontario high school.

What You Need: OSSD Requirements

The credits needed for graduation with an OSSD are different depending on when a student first enrolled in high school. But all diplomas require that students have a minimum amount of study in English, Mathematics, Science and other subject areas. Adult students (18 and over) may be able to receive credits for courses and training programs they took outside of secondary school.

Credit for Learning Outside High School

Get the credit you deserve. Students over 18 may be able to get a maximum of 12 credits for learning outside of Ontario high schools. You may be eligible for either maturity equivalent credits, or for Prior Learning Assessment (PLAR).

What You Need to Graduate

The credits and other diploma requirements you need to graduate depend on when you first enrolled in high school in Ontario.

Before September 1, 1999

OSSD requirements if you started Grade 9 before September 1, 1999
After September 1, 1999

OSSD requirements if you started Grade 9 on or after September 1, 1999
1. 4 senior credits, including Grade 12 English 1. 18 compulsory credits (courses you must take
2. 12 optional credits (courses you get to choose)
3. 40 hours of community involvement activities
4. the provincial secondary school literacy requirement
To graduate with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) you must earn credits, participate in community involvement activities, and complete the provincial secondary school literacy requirement. Students must earn the following compulsory credits to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

18 compulsory credits

4 English (1 credit per grade)*
3 Mathematics (at least 1 credit in Grade 11 or 12)
2 Science
1 French as a Second Language
1 Canadian History
1 Canadian Geography
1 The Arts
1 Health and Physical Education
5 Civics
5 Career Studies

Plus ONE credit from each of these three groups:

1 Group 1: 1 additional credit in English or French as a Second Language**, or a Native language, or a classical or an international language, or social sciences and the humanities (family studies, philosophy, world religions), or Canadian and world studies, or guidance and career education, or cooperative education***
1 Group 2: 1 additional credit in health and physical education, or the arts, or business studies, or French as a Second Language**, or cooperative education***
1 Group 3: 1 additional credit in science (Grade 11 or 12) or technological education (Grades 9 to 12), or French as a Second Language**, or computer studies, or cooperative education***

In addition to the compulsory credits, students must:

earn 12 optional credits (courses you get to choose)†

Community involvement and literacy requirements

complete 40 hours of community involvement activities
complete the provincial literacy requirement
* A maximum of 3 credits in English as a Second Language (ESL) or English literacy development (ELD) may be counted towards the 4 compulsory credits in English, but the fourth must be a credit earned for a Grade 12 compulsory English course. ** 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. 2010

The 40-hour Community Involvement Requirement

As part of the diploma requirements, you must complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement activities. These activities may be completed at any time while you earn your secondary school credits.
If you first enrolled in Grade 9 before September 1, 1999, you get your OSSD by completing the requirements that were in effect at that time. (The curriculum changed in 1999.) To find out what you require to earn your high school diploma, obtain a copy of your Ontario Student Transcript from your last high school.

16 compulsory credits

5 English/français (at least 2 Senior Division*)
1 French/anglais
2 Mathematics
2 Science
1 Canadian History
1 Canadian Geography
1 Arts
1 Physical and Health Education
1 Business/Technology Studies
1 Additional Credit in Social Science**
(Senior Division*)
16 Total Compulsory Credits
14 Elective Credits
30 Total Credits
* Senior Division: Grade 11, Grade 12, and OAC
**Social Science: Geography, History and Contemporary Studies, Personal Life Management, Family Studies, and Economics. Principal may substitute up to two credits for compulsory courses

If you entered Grade 9 in the 1999 - 2000 school year or in subsequent years, you must successfully complete the Provincial Secondary School Literacy Requirement.

The test determines whether you have acquired the reading and writing skills considered essential for literacy. It is based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for language and communication, particularly reading and writing, up to and including Grade 9.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is the formal evaluation and credit granting process whereby students may obtain credits for prior learning. Prior learning includes the knowledge and skills that you have acquired, in both formal and informal ways, outside of secondary school. You may have your knowledge and skills evaluated against the expectations outlined in Provincial curriculum policy documents in order to earn credits towards the Secondary School Diploma. All credits granted through the PLAR process must represent the same standards of achievement as credits granted to students who have taken the courses.

Request for a PLAR Assessment

  • You may ask for an assessment of your diploma requirements after you have successfully completed one course with Peak Academy and submitted an original student transcript.
  • If you have completed the eligibility requirements outlined on the PLAR Fact Sheet, you will be asked to complete Peak Centre Academy PLAR Application Package.
If you are a mature student, you may be able to receive Maturity or Prior Learning credits depending on when you first entered secondary school.

Who is a Mature Student?

A mature student is someone who:

  • is at least 18 years old
  • has not attended a traditional school (i.e. Day School) for at least one year
  • is enrolled in a secondary school credit program for the purpose of obtaining an OSSD

Two Routes to Credits

Maturity Credits PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition) for Mature Students
You may be eligible for Maturity Credits if you:
a. Started high school in Ontario before September 1, 1999, or
b. Enrolled in an Ontario secondary school as an adult (18+) before February 1, 2004
You may be eligible for PLAR credits if you:
a. Started high school in Ontario after September 1, 1999, or
b. First enrolled in an Ontario secondary school after February 1, 2004

How many maturity credits can a student earn?

A student may be recommended for up to 12 maturity credits for:

  • life and work experience since leaving secondary school
  • successful completion of courses not usually considered secondary school subjects (this could be certification or designation in a specific program that required a minimum of 110 hours of instruction or training)
  • successful completion of each period of an apprenticeship program (for example, electrician, hairdresser or mechanic)

How can a student apply for Maturity Credits?

After a student has completed one full credit course, they may submit a request to the attention of the Guidance Counsellor for an official diploma assessment. They will need to submit their original secondary school transcript, a current resume and (if applicable) original documentation of courses and training completed outside of secondary school.

If all documentation is in order, they will receive a one-page diploma assessment outlining your diploma requirements and the number of maturity credits you have been granted.

Can a student earn their diploma with maturity credits?

No, a mature student must still complete a minimum of four Grade 11 or Grade 12 credits after becoming a mature student. These credits must include Grade 11 or 12 English.

Prior Learning Assessment AND Recognition (PLAR) For Mature Students

What is Plar for Mature Students?

1. PLAR is the formal evaluation and credit-granting process whereby mature students may obtain credits for prior learning. Prior learning includes the knowledge and skills that mature students have acquired, in both formal and informal ways, outside secondary school.

2. Mature students may have their knowledge and skills evaluated against the expectations outlined in the provincial curriculum documents published in 2000 and later in order to be granted up to ten senior “equivalency” credits towards the OSSD (Ontario Secondary School Diploma). All credits granted through the PLAR process must represent the same standards of achievement as credits granted to students who have taken the courses.

3. The process for obtaining equivalency credits involves an evaluation of a mature student’s education and/or training credentials and/or other appropriate documentation of learning gained from other programs, courses, or work experiences. These credentials and documents must show evidence of learning that relates directly to the Ontario curriculum expectations for a specific course.

4. Students may review the Ontario Curriculum expectations for Grade 11 and 12 courses at: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/index.html

5. The Ontario Ministry of Education Policy Program Memoranda No. 132 outlines in detail the PLAR Policy and requirements for mature students. We strongly recommend that you review this document: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/132.html

6. The cost for the PLAR assessment is $100, no matter how many equivalency credits you are requesting. The fee for this service must be paid by certified cheque, money order, or credit card. It is a non-refundable fee charged at the time the application is received.

Students must meet all five criteria to apply for PLAR

1. Mature student status: is at least 18 years old and has not attended a day school for at least one year and is enrolled at Peak Centre Academy to obtain an OSSD.

2. Started secondary school in Ontario after September 1, 1999 or first enrolled in a secondary course or program in Ontario after February 1, 2004.

3. Previously completed fewer than 26 credits; students who have acquired 26 or more credits must complete the required number of courses to bring their total to the 30 credits required for the OSSD.

4. Is an active student with Peak Centre Academy and has completed at least one credit.

5. Requested and received an official assessment of diploma requirements from the Peak Academy Guidance Counselor showing completion of the following four Gr. 11-12 compulsory credits:

  • Grade 11 English at any level: student can complete the course or provide a formal transcript for an equivalency assessment.
  • Grade 12 English at any level: student must complete the course; no substitution is permitted. Completion of the Gr. 12 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OLC4O) satisfies the Gr. 12 English credit requirement and can be used to meet the OSSLT – Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test – graduation requirement.
  • Grade 11 or 12 Mathematics at any level: student can complete the course; provide a formal transcript for an equivalency evaluation; or ask to substitute any course that meets a compulsory credit requirement for the OSSD.
  • Grade 11 or 12 Science at any level: student can complete the course; provide a formal transcript for an equivalency evaluation; or ask to substitute any Grade 9-12 course that meets a compulsory credit requirement for the OSSD.

The PLAR Process

1. Submission of the completed PLAR Application Package
2. Assessment and Recordkeeping by the Peak Centre Academy PLAR committee