Public Schools

New York City Public High Schools

There are no zoned high schools, grades 9-12, in Manhattan. Every student must fill out a standardized application listing high school choices for which they wish to apply. Although there are some district and borough restrictions for certain schools in New York City, overall the choices vary widely at the high school level. The high school application process is the same throughout the city, consisting of one application, usually due in early December, for all public high schools. Application due dates, testing dates, admission notification dates, and tour and open house dates can vary from year to year and school to school.

Specialized High Schools

Nine high schools within the five boroughs are designated as "specialized high schools", which are open for application citywide. The following eight of these schools require the specialized high schools exam:

This exam is given in October or November of the 8th grade year. Exam admission tickets are provided to students by their middle school guidance counselors or by visiting any Family Welcome Center

The Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts requires an audition (in dance, voice, instrumental music, drama, technical theater or a portfolio in studio art) in November and December.

Specialized High School Admissions for Newcomers

If you are an incoming 9th or 10th grader new to the city, you are eligible to take the exam for the eight specialized exam high schools or audition for two arts schools:

The exam is traditionally given in late August; the auditions are held on another date.

Selective Schools

Other selective schools include:

"New York City's Best Public High Schools" by Clara Hemphill (available in local NYC bookstores or online) is a helpful resource for learning more about good schools.

The Application Process

The high school application process is the same throughout the city, consisting of one application, usually due in early December, for all public high schools. Application due dates, testing dates, admission notification dates, and tour and open house dates can vary from year to year and school to school.

Some schools administer their own admissions exam, and others may not require an entrance exam, but weigh such factors as academic performance, standardized test scores, attendance records, essays, interviews, and portfolio submission.

  • You may apply to a maximum of 12 high schools in addition to the nine specialized exam and audition high schools. Apply only to those schools you are willing to attend.
  • Rank the schools in order of your choice. Schools won't see the order in which you rank them.
  • You will be matched with your highest ranked school that accepts you. You will only receive one offer, unless you are accepted at one of the specialized high schools, in which case you will have a choice.

Timeline

September (year prior to fall entry)

  • Register for high school tours/open houses, which take place from September through November in many schools. To find tour/open house schedules, call the individual schools of interest, visit their websites, or visit Inside Schools for a listing of schedules. Register early, as these fill up quickly. There is also a citywide high school fair held every fall where you can meet representatives from all city high schools, as well as smaller fairs in each borough.
  • Obtain a ticket for the Specialized High Schools exam/LaGuardia audition ticket from your child's middle school guidance counselor or district office.
  • If interested, register to take the Bard High School Entrance Exam.

October/November

  • School tours/open houses continue.
  • Specialized high schools exam takes place.

December

  • High School applications due in early December.

February-May

If you move to New York City during the school year or summer and need to find a high school:

  • Applications cannot be accepted for submission until official NYC residence has been established. If this has been obtained during the school year but your child is still attending school in another area, eligibility cannot be established until the summer (residence cannot be in two places for NYC public school consideration).
  • Identify schools that interest you. "New York City's Best Public High Schools" by Clara Hemphill (available in local NYC bookstores or online) is a helpful resource for learning more about good schools.
  • Contact the schools to try to find out your chances of acceptances. They might be willing to meet with you outside of the official process.
  • Go to the enrollment office. That way they will be less likely to place you in just any school -- although there are no guarantees.
  • If you move to New York after the end of the school year, you'll probably have to wait until late August, when special enrollment centers open up in every borough to register students new to the city or new to public school.