All 12 Northern Ireland schools which were competing to become specialist schools have been given the green light from the government.
Science is one of the areas of specialism
The schools will be given extra funding to concentrate on specific subjects.
Speaking at a visit to St Louise's College in Belfast, Education Minister Angela Smith said the schools would have specialist status from September.
"The schools will help raise standards not just in the specialist area but across the whole curriculum," she said.
Business, science, information technology, music and languages are among the specialisms chosen by the other schools.
St Louise's is one of the schools which has been granted the status and will specialise in the performing arts.
Ashfield Girls High School, Belfast
Belfast Model School for Girls
Glengormley High School
Ballyclare High School
St Cecilia's College - Londonderry
St Louise's College - Belfast
Limavady High School
St John's High School - Dromore
St Mary's College - Derry
Lumen Christi College - Derry
St Malachy's College - Belfast
Shimna Integrated College - Newcastle
Carmel McCartan, the principal, said it was a "tremendous privilege and a tremendous pleasure" for the school to become one of the first specialist schools.
"It was a lot of hard work but it has been worth it in terms of the four year whole school development plan and the community plan," she said.
"We certainly worked hard to develop this dream."
She said the extra funding would make a difference.
"It is really about improving the quality of teaching and learning for all our young people," she said.
"It is a recognition of the fact that all young people deserve to be valued equally and enjoy excellence in teaching and learning."
The idea of schools specialising in subjects was suggested in 2004. At that time 46 schools applied for the scheme.
The applications from the 12 successful schools included four year school and community development plans, a bid for a one-off £100,000 capital grant and unconditional private sponsorship of £25,000.
Specialist schools will receive £100 per pupil for the four years of designation and the £100,000 capital grant to support development of the specialism.