A Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a Ministry of Education approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school. Students enrolled in a SHSM experience a range of customized, career-focused learning opportunities while working towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Programs are also designed to assist students in their transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.

Currently, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board offers 52 SHSM programs across eleven economic sectors.

  1. Arts and Culture
  2. Business
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Energy
  5. Non-profit
  6. Health and Wellness
  7. Sports
  8. Hospitality and Tourism
  9. Information and Communications Technology 
  10. Transportation
  11. Construction

SHSM is a two-year program available to all students in Grades 11 and 12. Students in Grade 10 should begin learning about and contemplating a SHSM as they make their course selections for the next school year.

SHSM provides students with an opportunity to:
  • Customize their secondary school education to suit their strengths, interests and abilities;
  • Develop specialized knowledge and skills;
  • Earn postsecondary and sector recognized credits;
  • Gain sector-recognized certification and career-relevant training (e.g. CPR and First Aid);
  • Develop valuable transferable skills;
  • Identify, explore and refine career goals and make informed decisions about their future; and,
  • Remain flexible, with the option to shift between pathways, should their goals and plans change.

All students who participate in a SHSM receive an official SHSM Record documenting the credits earned and the certifications and training received as a part of their program.

Students who successfully complete a SHSM will have a SHSM Red Seal embossed on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and will be formally recognized at graduation ceremonies.


Curious how a SHSM program will fit into your schedule? Access your myBlueprint account to build sample schedules with actual courses available at your secondary school. Courses you have already completed will automatically be displayed in the schedules, making this a great way to map out your unique specialist plan!  

For more information or to enroll in a SHSM, please contact your school SHSM Teacher or Guidance Counsellor.

For program details including specific school SHSM offerings, please view the HWCDSB SHSM Brochure.