Academics & Curriculum

Collegiate Institute Vision Statement

The Collegiate Institute prepares students for a successful transition to college, careers, and responsible living by providing a balance of challenging, relevant coursework, authentic learning experiences, and strong relationships with students and families.  By actively engaging in interdisciplinary studies, leadership opportunities, and restorative practices, Collegiate Institute scholars take ownership of their learning through advocacy, choice, and increased independence, graduating with the capacity to succeed both individually and collaboratively, and practice habits of mind that support the pursuit of lifelong learning and growth.

Academic Overview

The Collegiate Institute academic program is purposefully designed to both prepare our students for success in college and to inspire a genuine interest in and love of learning. It is the goal of our academic program to bring these aspects of our mission together in the daily lives and daily learning of our students. Furthermore, it is our hope to integrate learning opportunities and field trips as well as community service experiences that promote responsible citizenship and participation by our students in their communities.

We offer a rigorous curriculum in English, Math, Spanish, Social Studies, and Science. Furthermore, we offer students courses in Physical Education, Fine Arts, Performing Arts/Music, and Computer Science as well as several electives, including Advanced Placement (AP) classes, classes at local colleges and universities, and the chance to pursue individual projects through our Senior Seminar program. All of these foundational elements prepare students to be successful in college and beyond.

Our academic program also recognizes that students possess a variety of learning styles, process information at different rates, and desire to pursue different interests. While the school addresses the needs of struggling students in a variety of ways, it also focuses on ensuring that all students are challenged to reach their fullest potential. Best practices such as differentiating instruction, leveling of courses (particularly in Spanish and in Math) and student choice provide students with opportunities to define and pursue their own interests, to learn material beyond the requirements of the curriculum, and to advance in subjects in which they are particularly talented.

Student Choice

As early as tenth grade, students begin to make choices when selecting their courses, and in every grade, within the courses students take, teachers allow for choice as students complete projects and other written assignments. A combination of papers and projects involving the use of the school building as the basis for completing a series of calculations, to re-enacting the French Revolution, to choosing a current event to write a science class report are all used to engage students in their learning.

Exhibition Night

On a grander scale, students in each grade work on one larger project each year to be shown at a Grade-Level Exhibition Night to which parents and community members are invited. At all grades, students have many choices to make regarding the focus of their project culminating in the choice as a senior to engage in a year-long multi-faceted, individually-designed research project—the Senior Project.

Each project presented at an Exhibition Night is evaluated by the faculty as well as outside judges. Judges include subject-matter experts, Trustees of the Board, and select community members. Students are evaluated according to a rubric which incorporates content measures as well as presentation skills.

College Readiness

Through both the solid foundation we require all students to obtain and the options to pursue individual interests within those requirements, our students experience a balance in education that mirrors that of a college. By the time students graduate from Prospect Hill Academy, they are not only ready for the challenges of college but have clear academic interests and passions because they have been allowed to explore on their own already.

Graduation Requirements

In order to receive a High School diploma:

  • Student must take, and pass,
    • four years (or the equivalent, with the approval of the Upper School Principal) of English, Math, and Spanish, and
    • three years of Social Studies (including one year of United States History), and Science.
  • Student must pass the Math and English Language Arts sections of the MCAS exams.
  • Beginning with the Class of 2010, students are also required to pass the 10th grade Science MCAS exam.
  • Student must complete the Community Service Graduation Requirement.

Programming Highlights


The Collegiate Institute Elective Program is designed to provide Prospect Hill Academy’s oldest students with opportunities to expand and pursue their academic interests through rigorous, year-long seminar courses. Each of the courses engages the students not only in advanced academic discourse but also in real-life applications of learning. All sophomores, juniors, and seniors are required to take one elective course per year (or the equivalent, as approved by the Upper School Principal). Electives are offered in English, Computer Science, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and the Arts.

Senior Seminar

As an integral part of Prospect Hill Academy’s Collegiate Institute, seniors choose between two seminar courses: the Advanced Humanities Seminar or the Advanced Science Seminar. Both seminars explore the same theme - Power Dynamics of Human Civilizations and Globalization – by requiring students to research and synthesize the real-world complexities of the theme and apply this learning to the completion of a real-world project to be exhibited to a public audience.

Each Seminar consists of two classroom-based lecture periods and one “Studio”, which meets once-per-week for three hours. During the Studio, students from both seminars work collaboratively, both on-and-off campus, to design and create long-term projects that address the course content in meaningful ways. Project mediums could include industrial design, performance, filmmaking, program development, digital design, construction, and community activism.

Enrichment Term

Enrichment Term is a three-week term in June that is designed to engage our 11th grade students in genuine service-learning projects, plus offer them the opportunity to take courses outside of the traditional academic curriculum. In order to successfully offer Enrichment Term, we seek out organizations that may have a specific need our students can help them meet. During Enrichment Term students work in teams, under the direction of a PHA advisor, to complete a project approved by the organization.

Junior Journey

Junior Journey is a program that integrates Spanish language instruction, cultural immersion through homestays, and community service learning for all eligible Prospect Hill Academy juniors.


Course Descriptions