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Senior High School in the Philippines: An Overview

The Department of Education’s K to 12 program has already produced three batches of senior high school graduates since its initial implementation back in 2012. Despite that, many students and parents included are still not sure how senior high school works and why it has been included in our revised education system. If you happened to be one of them or know someone who is, here’s a short overview of senior high school in the Philippines that we hope can be of help.



Completion of senior high school is a requirement for college admission, so if you’re aiming to study a four or five-year degree program in college, finishing senior high school is a must.

Aside from that, senior high school also allows students to study general education subjects that they wouldn’t have otherwise studied until their first or second year in college — giving them more time to dig deeper into their chosen specialization should they eventually decide to pursue higher education.

This could play an important role if you intend to pursue jobs in countries where companies require a minimum of 16 years of formal education (as opposed to our 14 years under the old educational system) to qualify for employment. The same also goes for those interested in pursuing a master’s or doctor’s degree overseas where a lot of academic institutions also require the 16-year minimum.

If you’re thinking of skipping college and joining the workforce as soon as possible, senior high school also offers a faster way to earn Certificates of Competencies (COCs) and National Certificates (NC) from TESDA that you can use to apply for both local and overseas jobs that require a particular set of skills.

If you prefer to be your own boss instead of working for someone else, you can also use the things that you’ll learn from the TVL / TLE track to learn the basics of running a small business including but not limited to operations, financial management, and customer relations.



Senior high school stretches over two academic years — grades 11 and 12 — composed of two semesters each. Each semester is subdivided into 29 mandatory and 2 elective subjects that each take 80 hours to complete (with the exception of PE and Health which only take 20 hours each).


Career Tracks and Learning Strands

The senior high school program is broken down into career tracks and learning strands. The career tracks refer to the general categories that the different fields of study belong to while the learning strands refer to the different areas of expertise under the program. Currently, there are 4 career tracks (Academic, Arts and Design, Sports, and TVL / TLE) and 8 learning strands (ABM, STEM, HUMMS, GAS, Home Economics, ICT, Agri-fishery Arts, and Industrial Arts).


Curriculum Breakdown

The senior high school curriculum is composed of a total of 31 subjects — 15 of which are part of the core subjects that every student will take regardless of their chosen career track (with the exception of Earth Science and Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction which are only for students taking the STEM strand), 7 applied or contextualized subjects which are also taken by every student regardless of their chosen track but are slightly modified to suit individual specializations better, and 9 specialized subjects that are, for the most part, exclusively taken by students who chose that particular career track and learning strand (with the exception of subjects under the HUMSS strand which can be taken as electives by students taking other career tracks and learning strands.


Choosing a Career Track

The career track that you will be taking in senior high school can depend on the result of your NCAE and the pre-admission screening of the senior high school that you intend to enroll at.

For example, anyone can choose to pursue the ABM, HUMMS, and General Academic strands along with the various strands under the TVL / TLE tracks regardless of NCAE results; however, a final grade of 85 percent in both Math and Science is required to qualify for the STEM strand as well as a percentile rank of 86 and above in the STEM subtest of the NCAE.

For the sports and arts and design tracks, students have to score a percentile rank of 51 and above in their corresponding subtests as well as pass the skills test that will be administered by the school that they wish to enroll at.


Availability of Career Tracks and Learning Strands

Due to limited resources, not all senior high schools can offer the tracks outlined in the program.

Instead, the availability of career tracks will be determined based on the available senior high schools’ ability to provide the equipment and facilities necessary for a certain career track as well as the specific demands of the community that they are operating in.

For example, certain subjects under the STEM strand requires a science laboratory while certain subjects under the Sports track may require specific sports equipment.

Demand wise, the Agri-fishery Art strand is more likely to be offered in a senior high school operating in a coastal community or a farming area, so is the Information and Communication Technology strand in highly urbanized areas where technology companies are known to operate.


Schools That Offer Senior High School

Not all schools are allowed to offer senior high school in the Philippines. In order to be able to do so, interested schools must first get the Department of Education’s permission by meeting certain requirements.

Enrolling at a senior high school not authorized by the DepEd can result to your diploma being declared as invalid, so it’s important that you consult the list of schools authorized to offer senior high school in the Philippines before applying.


Tuition Fees

Just like in college, tuition fee for senior high school may vary per school. The Department of Education offers vouchers that incoming senior high school students can use to enroll in their public or private senior high school of choice, the value of which can range between 8,750 PHP to 22, 500 PHP per year depending on the type of junior high school that they graduated from and the area where their senior high school of choice is located.

It is worth noting, however, that while the voucher can be used to enroll in both public and private schools and is typically enough to cover a large portion of the tuition fee or even more in the former, this can only cover a small portion of the tuition fee in a lot of the latter, so you might want to do some digging around first to get an idea of exactly how much you would need to pay for before you send in your enrollment application.


Additional Concerns

Do you have any other SHS question or other concerns about senior high school in general? You may get in touch with the Department of Education by calling (02) 636 1663 | 633 1942 or (+63) 919 456 0027 or by e-mailing You can also visit them at their official website


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