The 10 Best High Schools in New York State

It is perhaps not surprising that many of the best high schools in New York are heavily concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area. 

Ranging from public and specialized public to private, New York’s best high schools stand out via their expert faculty cohorts, city-integrated buildings and facilities, and community partnerships in STEM, business, and the arts.

Admission to the best high schools in New York is predictably competitive, and in most cases, students will apply for admission to these elite institutions. 

Tuition can exceed $60,000, while other public schools provide a totally free and exceptional four-year education. 

Experiential and work-based learning is prioritized in many of the school settings on this list. Students are also encouraged or required to engage in regular community service endeavors. 

Attending school in and around the diverse cultural hub of New York City provides more access to learning languages like Russian, German, and Japanese, all languages valued in the business and technology world.

Our selections of the best high schools in New York State were sourced from rankings lists of popular publications like Niche and the U.S. News & World Report. 

Continue reading to learn more about the exciting curriculum opportunities offered by these impressive institutions! 

Here are 10 of the best high schools in New York State.

Bronx High School of Science (Bronx, NY)

Bronx High School of Science
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

With over 2,900 students enrolled, Bronx High School of Science is one of the largest specialized public high schools on this list. 

1,800 students take nearly 5,000 AP exams annually, and the school’s alumni network includes eight Nobel laureates, eight Pulitzer Prize winners, and two recipients of the Turing Award.

The campus is brimming with opportunities for student involvement. The IDEAS Initiative challenges students to create and engineer solutions for modern-day problems in one of several Launch Labs. 

Associated program features include national site visits, access to a summer design institute, and participation in high-performing robotics teams in competitions across the country.

Bronx High School of Science is also celebrated for its debate team, consistently ranked in the top five performing debate teams by the National Speech & Debate Association. 

All students are welcome to participate, and none are turned away. Nearly 300 students make up this exciting organization each year!

The Horace Mann School (New York City, NY)

Horace Mann students are guided by five core values: “life for the mind, mature behavior, mutual respect, a secure and healthful environment, and a balance between individual achievement and a caring community.” 

These five values are woven into all realms of the independent school setting, which serves nearly 735 students in its Upper Division (grades 9-12) on an 18-acre campus situated in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

One of the most impressive components of Horace Mann’s Upper Division curriculum includes a service-learning program in which teams of 100 students engage in philanthropic pursuits at sites for youth and older adults. 

To graduate, students complete four years of physical education or team sports, obtain their CPR and First Aid certifications, and complete an 11th-grade interdisciplinary requirement.

High school tuition runs nearly $60,000 annually, and financial aid is available. The school is home to other assets, including over 100 electives for Upper Division students, a 320-acre outdoor education center in Connecticut, and a 100+-year-old award-winning weekly student news publication.

Jericho Senior High School (Jericho, NY)

Located 30 miles east of New York City, Jericho is a public high school serving 1,263 students in grades 9-12. 

It offers an array of AP courses and dual enrollment options in concert with Adelphi University, St. John’s University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and other post-secondary institutions. 

Jericho offers some intriguing, hands-on courses in a breadth of niches. In International Foods, students discuss nutrition and eating customs across different regions while preparing dishes using culinary approaches from around the world. 

In New Media Communications, the students create a new online version of the illustrious newspaper, the JerEcho.

Students can join various clubs, with the Jericho Theater Production Organization (JTPO) as one of the most popular options. 

The club is ideal for students who enjoy acting, dancing, singing, or working behind the scenes to put on an impressive theatrical production.

High School of American Studies at Lehman College (Bronx, NY)

At this specialized public high school for gifted students, the curriculum emphasizes United States history and politics. 

Students participate in all honors- or AP-level courses, and qualifying juniors and seniors may take classes at Lehman College. 

New York City 8th and 9th-grade students are eligible to take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) in a competitive admission process.

What does the HSAS curriculum look like? 

High schoolers analyze primary source documents, read biographies, visit American sites and cities of historical significance, and take levels in sub-topics like criminal law or the United States Constitution. 

All students are required to take AP exams in world history and United States history in their sophomore and/or junior years.

Outside of the emphasis on American studies, scholars complete a rich liberal arts curriculum, which includes a foreign language component. Students attend seven 55-minute periods daily and are generally out of class by 2:50 each afternoon.

Riverdale Country School (Bronx, NY)

Founded in 1907, Riverdale is an independent school serving 1,260 students in PreK through 12th grade. 

With a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Riverdale students receive significant individualized attention. Upper School students are encouraged to participate in student-led organizations, which meet once every two weeks during the school day, after school, or on weekends.

Recent offerings include Action Against the Prison Industrial Complex (AAPIC), a group dedicated to fostering discussion about the state of our current-day criminal justice system; Animania, a group in pursuit of creating a short animated film using anime and manga; and Citymeals, which provides weekend meals to homebound elderly residents in need across New York City.

Students in the Upper School have the opportunity to engage with the full-time outdoor educator via survival skills courses, recreational fitness, and research-based excursions. 

The Summer Science Research Program, for example, takes students to Alaska with the goal of conducting climate change analysis in conjunction with a wilderness camping and hiking trek!

High School of Math, Science, and Engineering at CCNY (New York City, NY)

A specialized public high school, HSMSE has been lauded for being the most diverse school in New York City. 

Its curriculum challenges students with an interdisciplinary approach to STEM and the humanities. 

The campus is located on the CCNY campus, so students gain early exposure to the realities of college living and have access to the campus facilities and equipment.

All HSMSE scholars take a minimum of five math courses and annual laboratory sciences. Most fulfill a three-year foreign language requirement in German, considered the “language of engineering.” 

In their sophomore year, students declare a concentration in one of the following: engineering, mathematics, or biomedical research.

The school’s biomedical research program was created and carried out in partnership with scientists and doctors at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

Juniors and seniors complete a research internship at one of the hospital units, where they focus their inquiries in areas like cardiology, OBGYN, or pediatrics.

Townsend Harris High School (Flushing, NY)

Townsend Harris is a public high school guided by the Ephebic Oath, inspiring community members to leave Flushing better than before they arrived there.

The school’s world languages department has an excellent reputation. Students can choose from five foreign languages: Spanish, French, Japanese, Latin, or Greek. 

100% pass the three-year comprehensive Regents examination in their language and the National Latin Exam, and 80% of students continue their foreign language study past the minimum requirement of three years.

Outside the core curriculum, students can take electives in service and activism. 9th-grade admission is open to all New York City students via a competitive screening. Application readers consider standardized test scores from 6th grade and report card grades.

Staten Island Technical High School (Staten Island, NY)

Staten Island Technical High School
Tdorante10, Staten Island Tech HS, CC BY-SA 4.0

Staten Island Tech’s specialized public high school enrolls 1,330 students in STEAM, the humanities, and work-based learning experiences per its holistic curriculum. 

Each year, more than 15,000 students apply for under 400 available spaces. 

Within the STEAM realm, students start their exploration with an introduction to AV engineering and TV studio course. They get Certiport certified in their sophomore year via the AutoCAD program. 

By junior and senior years, they are taking classes in advanced computer-aided design and career financial management. In 10th grade, sophomores take part in a job-shadowing career exploration so that they can complete internships in their junior and senior years. 

Staten Island Tech is unique in its affiliation with the Russian language. The school is one of only 30 worldwide schools to offer Russian, considered “elite” in the technology field. 50% of Staten Island Tech students go on to take Russian in college and use the language in their stimulating careers.

Trinity School (New York City, NY)

The oldest school on our list, Trinity School was established in 1709. The private school now serves just over 1,000 students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. After submitting an application, families complete a campus tour and interview. 

They will also need to share recommendations from a math teacher, English teacher, and administrator, in addition to standardized test scores, transcripts, and an essay. Tuition for grades 9-12 is $58,495.

Trinity does have an Episcopal affiliation, and Chapel engages the community in considering questions like the value of human life, the nature of the universe, and how to live a life of integrity. 

An Upper School social impact learning component places students in charge of leading philanthropic pursuits. They may assist in donation collections with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger or provide translation services, among other tasks for community partners.

Stuyvesant High School (New York City, NY)

Stuyvesant is another exceptional specialized public high school for gifted students engaging them in thrilling science, mathematics, and technology programs. Students can choose from 31 AP courses and score an average of 1510 on the SAT and 34 on the ACT composite. 

The school’s Junior Engineering and Technical Society (JETS) team regularly places in the top ten spots within the Northeast division of the competition, while the Ace Mentor Program selects 15-20 Stuyvesant students to work in teams at architecture and engineering firms under the guidance of a mentor.

The humanities are well-represented, too! Stuyvesant runs Caliper, the oldest high school literary magazine in the United States. It’s published twice annually and features numerous works by Stuyvesant students and faculty members.

Previous articleThe 10 Best Agriculture Colleges in the US
Next articleThe 10 Best High Schools in Florida