Located on the east coast, nestled between New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, the state of New Jersey is home to a total of 2,565 public high schools.
This places the state tenth in the United States in terms of most public schools, as of the 2020-2021 academic year.
New Jersey is also home to an additional 1,296 private schools — the eighth most of any state in the country.
The abundance of high schools in Jersey may come as a surprise, given the fact that the state is the fifth smallest in the country in terms of land size.
However, the state’s large number of schools can be explained by the state’s relatively large population.
In fact, New Jersey is ranked 11th in the country in terms of population size, making it the single most densely populated state. As a result, students in the area have a wealth of options to choose from when selecting a high school to attend.
With so many different options out there, narrowing down the possibilities into a concise, manageable list of top schools can take time and effort. We are here to help ease the stress.
Here, we have gathered some information about 10 of New Jersey’s best high schools.
All of the schools in the following list were chosen from various high school ranking lists published by well-respected publications, such as US News and World Report, Niche, and others.
Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School (Jersey City, NJ)
Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School is a highly-acclaimed magnet public school. It is a part of the Jersey City Public Schools District.
As of the 2020-21 academic year, McNair HS had a total enrollment of 713 students. With 51 teachers on faculty, the school had a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1.
According to US News and World Report, Dr. Ronald E. McNair is ranked fifth best in the state of New Jersey among all high schools.
Looking at high schools within the Hudson County area, McNair is ranked 1st in several regards. In terms of public high schools, these include the best school overall, the best teachers, and the best college prep.
Princeton International School of Math and Science High (Princeton, NJ)
Commonly known as PRISMS, Princeton International School of Math and Science High is a highly selective, co-educational private school serving students in grades nine through 12.
Founded in 2013, the school has quickly established itself with an excellent reputation.
According to Niche, PRISMS is the #1 private high school in the state of New Jersey. It is also #1 in the state in terms of boarding high schools.
PRISMS uses an educational model that blends the most substantial aspects of education theory from China and the US, allowing the school to provide students with a forward-thinking, intercultural education of world-class quality.
Although the school does offer campus housing for all students, those who prefer to live at home are free to attend the school during the academic day.
The Pingry School (Basking Ridge, NJ)
An independent, coeducational day school that prepares students for college, the Pingry School has provided excellent quality education to students in grades K-12 since 1861.
According to a 2023 ranked list published by Niche, the Pingry School is ranked third best among the 122 private high schools in the state of New Jersey.
Niche also named the Pingry School as the #1 private K-12 school in the state, showing that Pingry is an exceptionally well-rounded institution with lots to offer students of all ages.
Pingry’s reputation can be credited, in part, to its highly experienced teaching faculty. There are 19 current faculty members who have been at the school for at least 25 years.
The school is now home to around 1,100 students across all grade levels, with well over 100 students per grade. In the graduating class of 2022, for instance, there were a total of 143 senior students.
Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies (Edison, NJ)
Located in Edison, NJ, the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies is among the top high schools in the state and the entire nation.
In fact, according to US News and World Report, Middlesex is ranked #1 in the state of New Jersey and #23 in the United States in terms of best high schools in 2022.
The academy places a heavy emphasis on career preparation, aiming to provide students with the knowledge they need to succeed in engineering.
Middlesex is relatively small compared to most other high schools, with only about 40-45 students in each grade. This gives the school a total enrollment of approximately 170 students.
Bergen County Academies (Hackensack, NJ)
A public magnet high school in Hackensack, NJ, Bergen County Academies is a unique educational institution for several reasons.
For one, Bergen does not charge its students tuition fees for attending the school, despite the highly selective nature of their admissions process as well as the widely-desired, world-class education they are known to offer.
Second, Bergen takes an unusual approach to secondary education in which students choose one of seven specialized academic programs, each of which is designed to emphasize a different career path.
According to Niche, Bergen County Academies is ranked #1 in New Jersey in terms of best college preparation offered at a public high school.
High Technology High School (Lincroft, NJ)
High Technology High School is an excellent, engineering-focused career preparation academy serving high school students.
As the school’s name suggests, High Technology High School strongly focuses on the interconnected nature of the sciences, mathematics, technology, and the humanities, aiming to provide students with a well-rounded STEM education.
According to Niche, High Technology High School is the #1 public high school in the state.
Other areas in which High Tech is ranked remarkably well at the state level include second places in the following respects: best teaching faculty among public schools, best college preparation offerings among public high schools, and best STEM offerings among all high schools, both public and private.
At the national level, High Technology High School is ranked third in terms of best college preparation offered by a public high school.
The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, NJ)
A private, coeducational, preparatory secondary school serving boarding and day students, the Lawrenceville School is another of New Jersey’s premier high schools.
In fact, according to Niche, in terms of how well private schools prepare their students for college, the Lawrenceville School is #1 in the state.
Lawrenceville is also the #2 private school in the state overall, coming in second place among the 11 New Jersey boarding high schools considered in the site’s rankings as well.
The school uses an unconventional educational theory called Harkness learning, an innovative approach that replaces the conventional lecture- and memorization-based educational model with a more collaborative, participatory classroom experience.
Through Harkness learning, Lawrenceville students are prepared to become engaged, knowledgeable members of society and of the workforce.
Union County Magnet High School (Scotch Plains, NJ)
A part of the Union County Vocational Technical Schools Campus in Scotch Plains, NJ, Union County Magnet High School is a magnet public school serving students in grades 9 through 12.
Union County Magnet High School is home to a total of 297 students. The relatively modest student student size allows the school to maintain a student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1.
Union County Magnet HS is a highly well-respected secondary school not just in the local Union County area, but also in the state of New Jersey as a whole and the greater New York City area.
Whether looking at magnet high schools or public schools more generally, you will find Union County Magnet High School among the top 10 in the NYC area, coming in third place in the former and ninth in the latter.
Newark Academy (Livingston, NJ)
Located in Essex County, Newark Academy is a private day school serving students in sixth through twelfth grade.
Established in 1774, the school has more than two centuries of experience providing a world-class education to all its students.
At Newark Academy, students at the Upper School — meaning those in ninth through twelfth grade — receive numerous fantastic opportunities to take part in unique and enriching academic adventures.
For example, prior to graduating, all Newark students must complete the immersion experience requirement.
There are three kinds of immersion experiences: wilderness, cultural/linguistic, and cultural/service, each of which entails an off-campus trip of at least ten days.
The immersion experience requirement is evidence of the school’s heavy focus on preparing their students for success during college through intensive, sometimes unconventional learning experiences.
Glen Ridge High School (Glen Ridge, NJ)
Also located in Essex Country, Glen Ridge High School is a six-year public middle and high school that is among the finest in the state of New Jersey.
Among the Glen Ridge Public Schools, Glen Ridge High School is the only secondary school, making it an important educational institution for the local area.
Students at Glen Ridge can join any of the wide range of clubs, athletic teams, and other extracurricular organizations the school offers. Some of the plethora of options include the gardening club, robotics, the math honors society, a student-led literary magazine, and so many others.
According to Public School Review, Glen Ridge is ranked within the top 10% of all schools in New Jersey in terms of reading and math proficiency, as reflected by standardized test scores.