Curriculum Overview

Students walking outside on the campus

The Upper School curriculum is responsive to the young adults in our community and the demanding environment in which they live. Through their coursework, they build the knowledge and skills necessary to be informed, participatory, and engaged citizens.

In addition to the wide range of courses available at Catlin Gabel, the school is a founding member of the Global Online Academy (GOA), which gives students access to classes taught by faculty at 70+ independent national and international schools similar to Catlin Gabel. Students learn with peers across the globe in mostly asynchronous work.

Course Enrollment Expectations and Graduation Requirements

Students are expected to take a minimum of five academic courses every semester, which does not include PE or Health. To graduate from Catlin Gabel, a minimum of 18 academic credits, participation in Immersive courses in 9-11th grade, and completion of a senior project are all required. Other specific graduation requirements are listed by area of study below.

The Arts

Two years or four semesters of Arts classes are required. Students can select from classes in performing, digital, and visual arts. Go to The Arts page for specific information.

Computer Science

Computer Science courses are not required. Students have the option to pursue a four-year sequence that includes foundational programming and advanced courses, along with opportunities for independent research and courses through the Global Online Academy. More information on courses at Catlin Gabel and GOA is availalbe on the Computer Science page.


Four years of English are required. English 9, English 10, English 11, or American Studies-English; year of senior honors-level electives. Students may obtain credit for their senior spring semester through interdisciplinary courses. For more information on required courses and electives at Catlin Gabel and through the GOA, go to the English page.


Successful completion of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II / Honors Algebra II is required. Electives include standard-level courses in Precalculus, Calculus, and Statistics as well as honors courses in Precalculus, Calculus, Calculus II, and Statistics, in addition to GOA courses. More information about specific classes is available on the Mathematics page.

Modern Languages

Three years of the same language (French, Mandarin, or Spanish) taken in high school or demonstrated proficiency (whichever occurs first) are required. Classes include various levels, including honors. GOA offers courses in Arabic and Japanese, which do not meet our graduation requirements. More information is available on the Modern Languages page.

Physical Education and Health

Two semesters of PE are required. Classes include tennis, lifetime fitness, and musical theater dance. Students may earn credit through participation in athletic teams,  independent PE, and outdoor education trips. Two semesters of health, including Health 9 and Health 10, taken in 9th and 10th grades, are required. The Physical Education and Health page has further details.


Three years, including Science I (physics and chemistry), Science II (chemistry and biology), and a year of electives, which may include one semester GOA science courses, are required. General electives and honors courses are available. Details can be viewed on the Science page.

Social Studies

Three years, including Human Crossroads, The Modern World, and U.S. History or American Studies-History are required. Electives include honors courses on various topics. More information is available on the Social Studies page.