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Office of College, Career and Technical Education


An Introduction to Your School's Career and Technical Education Offerings


All schools and districts that offer five or more State-Approved (Chapter 74) classes will provide students with an introductory course called Exploratory. This is a great opportunity for students to learn about a variety of career fields before choosing a specific program to focus on.

In Exploratory, ninth graders are divided into groups that rotate through a few days or weeks of hands-on experiences in each of the programs offered at the school. For example, a student might go through a two-week introduction to biotechnology and then move with their group to a two-week introduction to cosmetology, before moving on to two weeks of engineering, and so on. Teachers emphasize safety standards while designing hands-on activities that provide a good introduction to what each career field is like. At the end of this process, students will have a better understanding of which career fields would be the best fit for them.

Exploratory classes are typically offered as a 1-semester/half-year course. The structure can vary from school to school.

  • In many schools, the course is required. At the end of the course, students apply to the programs they are most interested in.
  • Some schools that offer Exploratory do not require students to take it. Students would be allowed to enroll or apply to a State-Approved (Chapter 74) program without completing this class.
  • Other schools are not required to offer Exploratory and do not offer it. Students simply enroll or apply to the program they are interested in.

The best way to learn more about Exploratory is to contact the school or schools you are interested in directly. To find the schools closest to you, check out Massachusetts School Finder.

Families and students who are interested in a program that is not available within their home school district can read about the role of Exploratory in the non-resident student tuition program.

Last Updated: September 14, 2022

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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