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Occupational Course of Study
A Pathway to a North Carolina High School Diploma

The Occupational Course of Study is one of four pathways to achieve a high school diploma in North Carolina. The three other pathways are: Career, College Tech Prep, and the College/ University. When any student successfully completes a chosen course of study, a high school diploma will be awarded at the end of the senior year. For more information, contact one of the coordinators.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who can I contact about this option for my student?
What is the Occupational Course of Study?
3. How does the Occupational Course of Study differ from the other three pathways?

What if a student with a disability wants to enroll in the OCS after the 9th grade year?
What is the Career Portfolio requirement in th OCS?
What are the other requirements of the OCS?

Who can I contact about this option for my student?

Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools
Transition Office
2700 South Main Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27127
Phone: 336-771-4753  Fax: 336-771-5197


Job Coaches

Tara Santiago
Program Specialist Transition Coordinator
Debbie Manual
East Forsyth, Glenn
Tiffany McMasters
Community Based Voc. Training Coordinator
Keith Shields
Griffith, Carver, Atkins
Debbie Doub
Reagan, North Forsyth
West, Reynolds, Parkland, Kingswood
Sandra Courtner
Satellite Program, Wake Forest University

What is the Occupational Course of Study?

The State Board of Education approved the Occupational Course of Study (OCS) for selected students with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP team, which includes the student and parents, will determine if the OCS is the most appropriate pathway for the student. The OCS should only be considered if one of the other three pathways is inappropriate for the student even with the use of modifications, adaptations, supplemental aids, and services.

The OCS curriculum was designed for students with mental disabilities who function in the mild to high moderate range, and focuses on functional skills for life and work.  It is a hands-on rather than a textbook driven curriculum.  This course of study is designed for students planning to begin work immediately after high school.

Students with disabilities who do not meet the requirements for a high school diploma will receive a graduation certificate if they successfully complete the required credits and their IEP goals.

How does the Occupational Course of Study differ from the other three pathways?
The successful completion of any of the four pathways leads to NC High School Diploma. Students in the OCS are not required to take the regular state exit exams. Computer skill requirements are based on what is written in the student's IEP. Students completing the OCS pathway are prepared to enter jobs that require a high school diploma. The OCS curriculum, however, will not prepare a student for admission to a community college or a four year university. These students may be allowed to take classes at a community college, but in most cases will have to complete required remediation classes in order to participate in a degree program. What are the exit requirements for the OCS? In order to obtain a NC High School Diploma a student must complete:

*All course requirements
*A Career Portfolio and presentation
*ALL IEP Goals and Objectives
*900 Required Training Hours
What if a student with a disability wants to enroll in the OCS after the 9th grade year?
  • The IEP team would review the student's transcripts and determine which classes could be substituted for OCS course work.
  • The student must also complete all of the required coursework (see back panel).
  • The student must complete 300 hours of school based training, 240 hours of community-based vocational training, and 360 hours of paid employment.
  • The student must also satisfactorily complete the goals stated in the student's IEP.

All of the steps outlined above must be accomplished in order to receive the NC Diploma through the OCS.

What is the Career Portfolio requirement in the OCS?

Students must complete and present a portfolio to a judging panel in the final year of school. It...

  • is a visual representation of a student's abilities, skills, capabilities, & knowledge;
  • represents work and non-work related events in the student's life that contribute to the student's occupational development;
  • is a convenient place to keep a record of personal development and can assist the student in making good decisions about the future.
What are the other requirements of the OCS?
Follow the links to view the curriculum for each course below:


Social Studies:
92320 - OCS Biology

Occupational Preparation:

Required Training Hours:

PE/Health (1/2 unit of each) 
Career Technical Education (4)
Electives (1-4 including Career Training Lab)

School-Based Training is designed as a vocational assessment of student work habits,
interests, and aptitudes. Some activities that students may* participate in include:
  • School-Based Enterprise-Click here for a Guide For Starting and Managing School Based Enterprises
  • Vocational Assessment Activities-What is Vocational Assessment?
  • Student-Operated Small Businesses
  • On-Campus Jobs
  • Career Technical Education Student Organizations
  • Job Clubs
  • Leadershop in School-Sponsored Community Service Projects (e.g.Blood Mobile, Food Drive)
  • Job Fairs
  • Mock Interviews by Local Employers
  • Practical Assessment Exploration Laboratory (PAES)

240 Hours Community-Based Vocational Training

Community-Based Vocational Training provides students an opportunity to learn real work skills in a real-world business setting. It is designed to addressing the production, quality and social demands of the work environment, while introducing students to the types of jobs typically held by young adults entering the world of work. Some areas students may* explore include:

  • Stocking
  • Restaurant Cooking
  • Child Care
  • Retail
  • Cleaning
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Pet Care

360 Hours of Competitive Paid Employment

Students must obtain a paid part-time job by their final year in high school. The job must pay at least minimum wage and must be a bona fide business. Hours are verified by pay stubs. Students, parents, and teachers may find employment opportunities by visiting:
WSFCS Competitive Employment Site