• 20 March 2019
Specialized High Schools: Exceptional Programs for NYC’s Exceptional Students

Specialized High Schools: Exceptional Programs for NYC’s Exceptional Students

Feb 26, 2018

A guide to NYC’s nine selective high schools, from their latest admissions numbers to what each school offers its hardworking scholars.

The New York City public high school system is huge. With more than 400 high schools and over 230,000 high schoolers, the application process for rising high school freshmen can be daunting for students and their parents.

For the City’s nine selective high schools, the process is even more grueling. Eight require students to sit the Specialized High School Admissions Test, or SHSAT the Fall prior to their freshman year. Applicants for Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts must audition for their spots.

So what are the main differences between NYC’s nine specialized high schools?

1. The Bronx High School of Science

2017 Admissions: 941 offers, with 19,198 students listing Bronx Science as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: Bronx Science is a dedicated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) high school, with 30 Advanced Placement courses, a range of post-AP advanced courses, and a pedigree of producing quality students, including eight Nobel Prize laureates and six Pulitzer Prize winners.

Extracurriculars: Bronx Science boasts 43 athletic teams and over 70 after-school clubs, including an internationally recognized speech and debate team (for those children who are born arguers).

2. The Brooklyn Latin School

2017 Admissions: 425 offers, with 16,621 students listing Brooklyn Latin as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: Brooklyn Latin offers their uniformed discipuli—that’s Latin for students—a liberal arts curriculum grounded in Classical and Latin instruction, as well as coursework through the International Baccalaureate program. As part of their liberal arts education, students must complete four years of Latin, history, math, English, and science, in addition to at least two years of a foreign language and one year of art history.

Extracurriculars: Brooklyn Latin has over 40 after-school activities and athletics programs, including Stoked, a program in which students build (and ride) their own skateboards, and Public Declamation, where students memorize a classical piece of literature and recite it aloud.

3. Brooklyn Technical High School

2017 Admissions: 1,923 offers, with 23,329 students listing Brooklyn Technical as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: Brooklyn Technical is the largest of the specialized high schools, with over 5,500 students enrolled, and is another STEM school, offering students a state-of-the-art 3D animation and robotics lab, two woodworking shops, and a scholarly tradition that has produced Nobel laureates.

Extracurriculars: Brooklyn Technical’s more than 120 after-school activities and 43 athletics teams give students a cornucopia of extracurriculars to choose from.

4. High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York

Admissions 2017: 199 offers, with 18,863 students listing HSMSE as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: One of NYC’s most diverse schools, with around 450 students HSMSE is also one of the smallest specialized high schools. Students take four years of math and science classes, with access to AP and City University of New York classes. In the Spring of their sophomore year, students choose one of three tracks: mathematics, Mount Sinai Medical Biomedical Research Program, or engineering.

Extracurriculars: Like its fellow specialized high schools, HSMSE offers students a range of extracurriculars. German is one of the language options for students (who must complete at least three years of a foreign language) and also an opportunity to compete and study abroad, thanks to collaborations with the Goethe Institute and the American Association of Teachers of German.

5. High School of American Studies at Lehman College

Admissions 2017: 146 offers, with 16,737 students listing HSAS as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: HSAS requires its students to take three years of American History, taught chronologically and with an emphasis on using primary documents and resources. Students attend field trips, including a trip to Hyde Park upstate to visit FDR’s home and learn about the New Deal. Students have access to post-AP coursework at Lehman College, which also provides students with access to its library and athletic facilities.

Extracurriculars: HSAS’s extracurriculars include the mock trial and moot court teams, which have regularly won citywide competitions.

6. Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

Admissions 2017: 179 offers, with 16,402 students listing Queens High School as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: Students at Queens High School enjoy a range of science and math AP courses, as well as access to coursework through York College and CUNY. Fifty percent of students are Chinese language learners, and all students enjoy small class sizes and take at least two periods of science each year.

Extracurriculars: Queens High School students have access to York College’s facilities, in addition to opportunities for research and internships through Brooklyn Academy of Music, the 92nd Street Y, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

7. Staten Island Technical High School

Admissions 2017: 339 offers, with 15,278 students listing Staten Island Technical as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: In addition to its liberal arts program, Staten Island Technical students participate in the school’s unique Digital Education Initiative, and can take a wide range of AP, STEAM, and Career and Technical Education courses. All students finish with at least two AP Social Studies courses and three years of Russian language. Partnerships with CUNY, SUNY University in the High School, and St. John’s University College Advantage, and the College of St. Rose give students the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credits as well.

Extracurriculars: Staten Island Technical offers students more than 100 after-school activities and 46 athletics teams, including nine musical bands and multiple theater companies.

8. Stuyvesant High School

Admissions 2017: 926 offers, with 22,393 students listing Stuyvesant as a choice on the SHSAT

What’s so special: One of NYC’s most prestigious high schools, Stuyvesant students are often bound for the Ivy Schools and specialize in math, science, and technology, with a slew of college-preparatory courses and internship opportunities around New York City.

Extracurriculars: Stuyvesant students are spoiled for choice in after-school activities, with more than 190 student clubs and 45 sports teams, including the Stuyvesant Theater Community, which puts on three annual performances with a musical, comedy, and drama.

9. Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Admissions 2017: 1,285 offers, with 10,849 students registered for an audition

What’s so special: As the only specialized high school requiring an audition (and not the SHSAT), LaGuardia High School allows students to specialize in Dance, the Fine Arts, Technical Theater, Instrumental Music, or Vocal Music. Students can also take CUNY coursework and choose from over 23 AP classes.

Extracurriculars: In addition to their studio time, students can participate in LaGuardia High School’s 23 sports teams and its over 50 student-run clubs.


To learn more about NYC’s specialized high schools, the SHSAT, and the application process, check out the 2017-2018 Specialized High School Student Handbook.

For more information generally about NYC high schools, see the 2018 High School Directory.

Students planning to sit the SHSAT, and the tutors who will help them, can read more about preparing for the revised exam and recent changes to the English Language Arts section for the Fall 2018 exam.

About The Author

Clark

Clark