What is a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)?

An SHSM is a ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school. It also assists in their transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.

SHSMs are available within the Upper Grand District School Board in the following sectors:

  • Agrictulture
  • Arts and Culture
  • Business
  • Construction
  • Environment
  • Health and Wellness
  • Horticulture and Landscaping
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Non-Profit
  • Sports
  • Transportation.

Are there opportunities for further specialization?

An SHSM can be designed to focus on a specific area within the given sector – for example, the SHSM-Business can focus on entrepreneurship, marketing, accounting, or some other area of business. This focus is achieved through the selection of the four major credits in the bundle. Depending on local circumstances, boards may elect to offer one or more variants of the SHSM in a given sector, each with a particular area of focus. Where a choice of focus are is offered, students must select one.

What are the key benefits of an SHSM?

Pursuing an SHSM helps students to:

  • Customize their secondary school education to suit their interests and talents.
  • Develop specialized knowledge and skills.
  • Earn credits that post-secondary educational institutions and the sector recognize.
  • Gain sector-recognized certification and career-relevant training.
  • Develop essential skills and work habits documented through the Ontario Skills Passport.
  • Identify, explore, and refine career goals and make informed decisions about their future.
  • Remain flexible, with the option to shift between pathways, should their goals and plans change.

How is an SHSM recognized?

Students who successfully complete an SHSM receive:

  • an Ontario Secondary School Diploma with an embossed SHSM seal
  • an SHSM Record documenting his/her achievement
  • formal recognition on his/her Ontario Student Transcript

What are the components of an SHSM?

Each SHSM consists of five required components:

  1. Bundled Credits
    A defined bundle of credits consisting of eight to ten Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits, including cooperative education credits.
  2. Certification and training
    Sector-recognized certifications and training courses and programs
  3. Experiential learning and career exploration activities
    Experiential learning and career exploration activities within the sector
  4. Reach ahead experiences
    Learning experiences connected with the student’s post-secondary plans
  5. Essential Skills and work habits
    Development of Essential Skills and work habits required in the sector, recorded using the tools in the Ontario Skills Passport (OSP)

What can I do to prepare?

  • Plan accordingly: take the Grade 9 and Grade 10 courses that will lead you to the pathway of your choice.
  • Attend a Parent/Student School to Career Information Evening. See your guidance department for dates.
  • Visit your guidance counsellor at your home school for further information.

When can I get started?

  • Apply in your Grade 10 year.
  • If you are interested please contact your guidance counsellor or school SHSM Lead to register today!