Academic Areas of Study

Click below to learn more about the Academic Areas of Study at Professional Children’s School.


The English Department focuses on developing responsive readers and self-directed writers.

Middle School: From 6th through 8th grade, English is part of the Middle School Humanities program. With opportunities to engage in storytelling, embrace various historic cultures, and build skills in diverse writing styles, Middle School students build upon the fundamental skills necessary to be successful in high school level courses.

Upper School: During four years, students study a wide variety of styles and voices within the Western and non-Western literary traditions, from preliterate narrative through Shakespeare, up to contemporary literature, reflecting the diversity of experiences in American life. Writing assignments range from expository essays and short fiction to research projects in the senior year. Throughout the four years, teachers stress the revision process as well as both the analytic and aesthetic exploration of literature.

For a more in depth look at the English course offerings, see the Curriculum Guide.

English as a New Language (ENL)

Students identified as possibly needing English language support are assessed upon matriculation through placement testing. The Division Head and English as a New Language teacher then make individualized course recommendations based on the intensive English and academic language development that they need to master their academic and artistic disciplines. Students needing English support generally take two periods of ENL instruction daily.

Whether or not they are in ENL classes, most new students enroll in Math, Science, and Physical Education. Students also have the option of studying Music; drama or Studio Art and are required to take a Health course before graduation.  Any student exiting the ENL Program at PCS is required to take only 3 years of history.  Former ENL students are encouraged to take U.S. Government but are not required to take it to graduate. Any English Language Learner taking mainstream English by senior year must take Research and Media Literacy to graduate.  Students who have been in the ENL Program are welcome to take another world language class but are exempt from this graduation requirement as well.


The primary mission of the History Department is to develop students’ critical thinking skills through the teaching of history and to endow our students with a critical understanding and appreciation of the past.

Middle School: From 6th through 8th grade, Social Studies is part of the Middle School Humanities program. Students develop skills in historical thinking and analysis, critical thinking, and expository writing. Students especially focus on history of the United States from 1619 through to the Civil Rights era of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Students will learn about the American government, the various wars and eras that have evolved this country, and the impact of this history on our contemporary society.

Upper School: The department emphasizes the use of primary source materials. Students learn to analyze primary and secondary source materials and to distinguish between statements of fact and opinion. Students are introduced to the basic concepts of the social sciences. Our history courses seek to hone students’ writing skills, and students are required to prepare individual research projects over the course of their high school curriculum. Extensive use is made of library resources in physical and digital formats. 

For a more in depth look at the History course offerings, see the Curriculum Guide.


Middle School: Middle School Science students embrace science as more than a school subject, but rather as a way of thinking. Students build skills in experimentation, writing lab reports, and evaluating results. Areas of focus can include Life Science, Evolution, Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering, as well as Chemistry and Human Biology.

Upper School: Upper School students can experience a wide range of scientific study throughout their time at PCS. Students can study various Science courses including Physics, Environmental Science, Biology, and Chemistry. Advanced courses are available for students who are able to meet the pre-requisites.

For a more in depth look at the Science course offerings, see the Curriculum Guide.


Middle School: New middle school students take placement tests prior to the beginning of the school year to determine which math course is appropriate for them based on math ability and proficiency. Mathematics classes for Middle School students are Concepts in Math, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra.

Upper School: These courses provide students with experiences that encourage and enable them to value mathematics, become skilled problem solvers, and learn to reason and think critically. The curriculum recognizes that students will spend their adult lives in a society increasingly dominated by quantitative reasoning and technology. Course offerings include the traditional college preparatory sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. Topics in Math and Applications of Math are offered in alternating years, and may be taken to strengthen skills before studying Algebra II. Topics in Math and Applications of Math may also be taken as a year-long course after Algebra II, Pre-Calculus or Calculus. 

For a more in depth look at the Mathematics course offerings, see the Curriculum Guide.

World Languages

In the World Languages program, we enjoy our role as purveyor of other cultures and languages. Our goals are to teach students to communicate in another language, learn about and appreciate other cultures, acquire information and connect with other disciplines, and thus develop insight into their own language and culture. Spanish and French courses are offered to Middle and Upper School students from level I through Advanced level V. Students new to Professional Children’s School are required to take a placement examination to determine their course level. Returning students who receive a grade of 73 or better may proceed to the next level of the language they are studying. 

For a more in depth look at the World Language course offerings, see the Curriculum Guide.

The Arts

The Arts Program provides students with opportunities to participate in multiple forms of artistic expression. The goal is to supplement, enhance and expand on the rich experiences our students engage in outside of school. It is our hope that the students will come to discover and appreciate how exposure to diverse art forms serves to enrich their understanding of the human condition in general and to deepen their approach to their chosen professions in particular. The overarching goal is to help students to find their voices and to develop the confidence and skill to express their unique perspectives.

Students have the opportunity to study Drama, Music, and Visual Arts. For more information on the Arts Courses, please see the Curriculum Guide.

Physical Education

Physical Education introduces students to proper lifetime fitness skills. Sports fitness and game activities are used to help increase self-esteem as well as social skills. Sportsmanship, solving differences, and building healthy daily relationships are important aspects of the class. Cooperative games help to build peer relationships. These skills are important to develop early on as students become introduced to competitive team situations. The program results in students being well-rounded both physically and emotionally. All students must wear comfortable clothing and appropriate athletic shoes. 

All students are required by New York State law to take Physical Education each year. There is a minimum requirement of two hours a week. Students must wear athletic footwear and appropriate clothing for physical activity. Physical Education exemptions may be granted to students who are regularly engaged in supervised physical training outside of school for at least two full hours weekly. Exemptions are commonly granted for students taking dance classes and training in competitive sports.

Other Areas of Study

In addition to the core areas of study, PCS offers a wide range of unique classes in technology and computer science, health, research, and humanities. 

See the full course catalog in the Curriculum Guide here.

Upper School Graduation & Credit Requirements

A minimum of eighteen credits are required for graduation. Professional Children’s School’s curriculum is based on a four-year program, and it is recommended that college-bound students graduate with credits beyond the minimum, especially in sequential courses.

Students generally carry five credits per year. Courses that meet five times per week receive one credit per year or one-half credit for semester offerings. Courses that meet less frequently receive less credit.

Credit Requirements:

Each student is required to take the following courses:

English 4 credits; including Senior English for all. ENL courses can be taken for equivalent credits.
History 3 1/2 credits; including U.S. History and U.S. Government. ENL students: 3 credits.
World Languages 2 credits; must be taken for two consecutive years/levels; ENL students exempt.
Mathematics 2 credits
Science 2 credits
The Arts 1 credit
Health (Grades 9/10) 1/2 credit
Research & Information Literacy 1/2 credit online course; must be taken before Senior year.
Physical Education Must be taken each year unless an exemption is granted.

In addition to the above, students must fulfill a three-year sequence in at least one of the following: World Languages, Mathematics, or Science.


Once students have completed course requirements, the additional credits required for graduation may be taken from the sequences or in history, English, Math, Science, or the Arts.