Curriculum Overview

Catlin Gabel Palma Scholars Program Seminar with teacher Dave Whitson November 2021

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 also has a partnership with the Global Online Academy (GOA), which gives students access to more classes available at more than 70 independent national and international schools.

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 is required. Specific graduation requirements are listed by area of study below.

The Arts

Required. Two years (four semesters). Honors courses and Global Online Academy courses are available (the latter do not grant credit toward graduation requirements.) Students can select from classes in performing and visual arts, including music, voice, podcasting and recording; performance, musical theater, and theater tech; ceramics, drawing, photography, and woodworking. Go to The Arts page for more information.

Computer Science

Optional. Programming and honors courses, as well as independent research and courses through the Global Online Academy. Details regarding specific classes are listed on the Computer Science page.


Required. Four years. English 9, English 10, English 11 or American Studies and a year of senior honors-level electives. For more information on required courses and electives at Catlin Gabel and through the GOA, visit the English page.


Required. Successful completion of geometry and algebra II / Honors Algebra II. Electives in general and honors courses in precalculus, calculus, calculus II, and statistics. More information on these classes and GOA courses are on the Mathematics page.

Modern Languages

Required. Three years of the same language (French, Mandarin, or Spanish) or demonstrated proficiency, whichever occurs first. Classes include various language levels and an honors program. GOA offers courses in Arabic and Japanese. More information is available on the Modern Languages page.

Physical Education and Health

Required. Two semesters of PE. Classes include tennis, lifetime fitness, independent PE, and outdoor ed programming. Two semesters of health, including Health 9 and Health 10, taken in 9th and 10th grades, respectively. The Physical Education and Health page has further details.


Required. Three years, including Science I (physics and chemistry), Science II (chemistry and biology), and a year of electives, which may include a semester-long GOA science course. General electives and honors courses available. Details are available on the Science page.

Social Studies

Required. Three years, including Human Crossroads, The Modern World, and U.S. History or American Studies. Electives and honors classes on topics such as economics, philosophy, Latin American History and Modern Middle East. More information is available on the Social Studies page.