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Specialist High Skills Major

Limestone Learning Foundation

Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs are Ministry-approved, specialized, career-focused programs that allow students to acquire technical knowledge and skills in specific economic sectors while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

A school approved to offer an SHSM program will offer the program in all four pathways: apprenticeship training, college, university, and the workplace. SHSM programs may be connected to a
Focus Program or Dual Credit Program offered in the Limestone District School Board.

Students earning SHSM will be able to make more informed career decisions and ultimately be better prepared for their post-secondary destination of choice. Students who have earned the SHSM can provide evidence of their achievement of sector-recognized certifications and training programs to prospective employers and postsecondary educational or training institutions.

To learn more about SHSM, please contact your school's Student Services Department.

What are the components of SHSM?

The components of the SHSM as defined in the document Specialist High Skills Majors: Policy and Implementation are as follows:

  • a defined bundle of credits consisting of 8 to 10 Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits, including 2 cooperative education credits;
  • up to 7 certifications and recognized within the sector, including Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) training;
  • experiential learning and career exploration activities or projects related to the sector;
    reach-ahead experiences or events connected to the student's post-secondary plans; and
  • Essential Skills and work habits required in the sector and recorded in the Ontario Skills Passport (OSP).

Students who complete the requirements for the OSSD and for an SHSM will receive an OSSD embossed with a red "Specialist High Skills Major" seal. Credits earned towards an SHSM are indicated on the Provincial Report Card, and completion of an SHSM program is recorded on the Ontario Student Transcript. In addition, students receive an SHSM Record card outlining their achievement with respect to the five required components, and a copy of that record is filed in the student's Ontario Student Record (OSR).

Students who do not complete all the requirements for an SHSM or who transfer to another school before completing the SHSM program should receive a copy of their SHSM Record Card with the notation "Partially Completed." A copy will also be filed in the student's OSR. Specialist High Skills Major programs must be developed and implemented in accordance with the requirements outlined in Specialist High Skills Majors: Policy and Implementation Document.

What is classified as other required credits?

For the "other required credits" in the bundle of credits, students in a Specialist High Skills Major program must complete learning activities that are contextualized to the knowledge and skills relevant to the economic sector of the SHSM. Contextualized learning activities (CLAs) address curriculum expectations in these courses. Typically CLAs will take a minimum of 6 hours to complete.

The CLAs are available to teachers on the e-Community site . If you require a login or instructions for the e-Community site please contact the LDSB eLearining Coordinator.

How do students get started?

Students in Grade 10 interested in an SHSM sector should speak to a guidance counsellor or subject teacher in their school related to the SHSM sector offered at their location. Students in Grade 10 can pre-identify as an SHSM participant in their school by completing the school specific application form.

Students in Grade 11 will identify to their guidance counselor but it will require the student and the parent to understand the SHSM program does have an added level of rigor applied over a two year period, not always suited to all students.

Students in Grade 12 can identify typically in circumstances where many of the components are already in place and the student is aware of the elements still to be completed before graduation.

SHSM student participants must be entered in the Student Management System (Trillium) in order to track all of the components of the SHSM.


The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.