High School Guide: The specialized Elite 8


New York City’s eight specialized high schools consistently rank among the best-performing secondary schools in the nation. Each year, around 25,000 of the city’s top students sit for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), the standardized test that is the sole criterion for admission to these “elite eight.” Offers are extended to the 4,798 of them who score highest.


75 West 205th St., The Bronx
Enrollment: 2,936
Four-year graduation rate: 100%

With a world-record eight Nobel Prize winners among its illustrious alumni, this legendary high school’s designation as a “Historic Physics Site” by the American Physical Society is well-earned. Top students flock to Bronx Science for its 26 AP courses, but that’s just the beginning: An extensive slate of “post-AP” classes like advanced genetics, games development, actuarial mathematics, and quantitative analysis is waiting for highly accomplished students. Independent research in all disciplines is encouraged via a three-year sequence of courses that support students as they formulate, develop and publish original projects in sociology, economics, psychology, engineering, astrophysics and other social and physical science disciplines. A huge array of extracurriculars include some that would be unimaginable anywhere else, like clubs dedicated to parthenogenesis research and topological crochet. More than 40 sports teams, including volleyball, fencing, and girls’ flag football, keep students’ bodies as active as their minds.


223 Graham Ave., Brooklyn
Enrollment: 808
Four-year graduation rate: 97%

The Brooklyn Latin School stands apart as the only one of the “elite eight” that requires uniforms (khaki pants or skirts, white shirts, and striped purple neckties), and the only one that mandates four years of Latin as part of a classical curriculum rooted in declamation and rhetoric. Only Brooklyn Latin students call one another “discipulus” and call out greetings of “salve!” as they walk through the atria (not the hallways) to get to their next class. And only Brooklyn Latin skips AP courses altogether in favor of the challenging International Baccalaureate program, which all students — sorry, discipuli — follow. In 2019, 49 percent of graduating seniors earned an IB diploma after completing hours of community service and a capstone project or research paper. After class, kids compete on nine sports teams, including intramural badminton and PSAL volleyball, and participate in clubs like Stoked, which sponsors skateboarding and snowboarding activities and helps members build their own hand-tooled skateboards.

Brooklyn Technical High School
Brooklyn Technical High School is the nation’s largest specialized high school for STEM education.
J.C. Rice


29 Ft. Greene Pl., Brooklyn
Enrollment: 5,921
Four-year graduation rate: 96%

The nation’s largest specialized high school for STEM education celebrates its centennial in 2022. Nearly 6,000 gifted students pack the halls of Brooklyn Tech’s massive nine-story building, which occupies most of a full city block in downtown Brooklyn. Almost all of them participate in the school’s extensive AP program — billed as the world’s largest — which offers 30 different classes. A unique college-like system guides sophomores to choose one of 19 majors, each with a demanding list of required courses, that helps them earn special certifications in fields like mechatronics and robotics, law, architecture and media. Specialty classrooms, including a fully functioning mock-trial courtroom and an aerospace lab equipped with flight simulators, cater to these academic concentrations. Kids are just as active after school, with 187 clubs and activities — everything from anatomy to ukulele, aerospace to yoga — to choose from. Cricket, stunt (competitive cheerleading), golf and swimming (which takes advantage of the in-house four-lane pool) are just a few of the school’s 37 PSAL sports teams.


2925 Goulden Ave., The Bronx
Enrollment: 382
Four-year graduation rate: 100%

The smallest of the city’s specialized high schools is the only one dedicated to the study of history, and it’s one of the toughest to enter. In 2019, nearly 16,800 eighth-graders applied for HSAS’s 124 seats, a staggering 135-to-1 ratio. Once they arrive at the cozy school building at the edge of CUNY’s Lehman College campus, students find an atmosphere that’s more cooperative than competitive, where no one goes unnoticed. HSAS scholars devote three years to an intense chronological study of American history, culminating in the AP US History test, as well as two years of AP World History and required courses in government and economics. Throughout, they rely on primary source documents (often drawn from Lehman’s Leonard Lief Library, to which they have free access) to understand history from multiple points of view. The result: College-level skills in research and analysis. Regular trips to key historical sites in NYC and throughout the northeast enrich their writing and research. Juniors and seniors can take credit-bearing college classes and seminars at Lehman College.


240 Convent Ave., Manhattan
Enrollment: 496
Four-year graduation rate: 100%

Students at tight-knit HSMSE tackle a challenging math-based curriculum within the imposing stone walls of Baskerville Hall, a castle-like fortress of learning at the edge of the City College campus in Harlem. All freshmen and sophomores take the first two years of the school’s nationally validated preengineering program, which encompasses design and drawing, civil engineering and architecture; most take German, the language of science, to fulfill their four-year foreign language requirement. Sophomores choose a major concentration — higher mathematics, biomedical research or advanced engineering — as their area of focus for their last two years. The selective biomedical program leads some students to internships in cardiology, oncology, obstetrics or the autopsy suite at Mount Sinai Hospital; engineering majors can snag paid research slots at CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering. Running is the sport of choice: The “Flying Dragons” cross-country and track team attracts more than 10 percent of the student body, making it the school’s top extracurricular activity. Two dozen clubs, including groups devoted to chess, baking, photography and Rubik’s Cube, also keep kids busy.

The Post's guide to the best public high schools in the city.
The Post’s guide to the best elite high schools in the city.


94-50 159th St., Queens
Enrollment: 511
Four-year graduation rate: 100%

Students have the run of CUNY’s York College campus when they attend this Jamaica school, with access to its food court, pool, library, gym, theater, labs and College Now courses in psychology, sociology, genetics and more. The close relationship also gives QHSS students the chance to assist York College professors with research projects. The science- and math-heavy curriculum of QHSS aims to prepare students for college and career in a small setting where no one is lost in the crowd; it boasts a 100 percent AP participation rate, with 17 AP classes on offer. Most students here are bilingual, the children of recent immigrants from more than a dozen countries, including India, Korea, China, Russia and Pakistan. The school’s 31 clubs reflect that diversity: Groups like the K-pop Club, 1000 for Yemen, and QHSS Taalam encourage students to share their cultures with one another. PSAL sports include swimming, handball and bowling.


485 Clawson St., Staten Island
Enrollment: 1,336
Four-year graduation rate: 100%

Bright minds from Staten Island, south Brooklyn and beyond are drawn to this lively, crowded New Dorp school, where kids pursue both the arts and the sciences with a passion. About a third of the student body joins one or more of the school’s seven music ensembles, and nearly half of the entire school typically participates in SING, the annual student-run musical theater project. The challenging college prep curriculum is centered on math — everyone takes four years of it, including calculus, plus two years of preengineering coursework — and applied science, with a full roster of AP classes in physics, biology and more. Uniquely, the school offers only Russian as its foreign language, making it one of the largest secondary Russian language programs in the nation. With a commitment to work-based, hands-on learning, Tech makes extensive use of its makerspace/business incubator lab and forges community partnerships that give students real-world experience. This fall, students investigated actual unsolved cold cases with the Staten Island District Attorney’s office.

Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant High School is the nation’s best-known specialized high school.
Helayne Seidman


345 Chambers St., Manhattan
Enrollment: 3,342
Four-year graduation rate: 99%

The nation’s best-known specialized high school resides in a 10-story building overlooking the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. Founded in 1904, Stuyvesant is dedicated to the formation of the nation’s up-and-coming engineers, mathematicians and research scientists, but doesn’t skimp on the humanities. The 27 AP classes on offer cover subjects like music theory and studio art, as well as advanced physics and calculus. New this year is a reduced homework policy designed to ease stress within the high-achieving student body as kids return from a strained year of remote learning. With a 30-minute daily assignment limit for each class, they now have more time to compete on Stuyvesant’s 42 PSAL sports teams — from badminton to volleyball and everything in between — and to dive into its impressive array of 200-plus extracurricular activities, including unusual choices like paper craft, henna, entomology and true crime clubs. Stuy students frequently win honors of all sorts: Last year, one senior won the national Genes in Space contest with his proposal for a medical experiment to be run on the International Space Station.

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