Our Program

Upper School

Goals and Curriculum

The principal goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men and women who are creative, inventive, and discoverers, (who) have minds which can be critical, can verify (rather than) accept everything they are offered.

-Jean Piaget, To Understand is to Invent: The Future of Education, 1948

We educate so that Each Shipley Graduate Will:

  • think critically, listen intently, and express clearly his/her own ideas in speech and on paper
  • respectfully appreciate the perspectives of others
  • work with discipline and resilience, striving to be a lifelong learner
  • actively cultivate a sense of wonder and a spirit capable of exploring, creating, and expressing new ideas and possibilities
  • possess a strong sense of self in pursuing awareness, reflection, and self-sufficiency
  • continue to exercise an adventurous mind

Course & Activity Offerings

The Course Offerings Booklet gives an overview of each Upper School Course.


In active partnership, Shipley’s Upper School challenges students to explore their questions and interests and discover their intellectual, artistic, athletic, and human potential. The Upper School curriculum has three principles of design sequence and structure: Foundations, Connections, and Possibilities.

We provide students as they enter high school with foundational knowledge and frames of mind so they can investigate, articulate, test, and refine probing questions. As students grow in confidence, we actively engage them in constructing transformative learning experiences within and across disciplines and areas so they connect personally with intellectual challenges. Finally, in the upper years, students experiment creatively in problem solving by taking risks and thinking across disciplines as they collaborate, connect, and construct new possibilities for sustained inquiry and research. We encourage students, in partnership with teachers and others, to see learning as a place for passionate exploration across boundaries in order to find new possibilities, even frontiers.

Cornerstones of Shipley’s Upper School Academic Program

Foundational Knowledge and Probing Questions:

In the first two years, students acquire foundational knowledge and disciplinary frames of mind so they can investigate, articulate, test, and refine good questions.

Rigor Redefined – Seeking Challenges to Experiment and Explore:

Beginning in the junior year, our upper level honors seminars and electives actively engage students in high-level writing, reading, research, problem solving, and thinking within and across disciplines and areas so they connect personally with intellectual challenges.

College-Level Knowledge and Flexibility to Discover and Build Strengths

Our upper level courses and individualized academic course plans give students the best combination of college-level preparation with an emphasis on capturing and cultivating their talents and passions.

Connections, Confidence, Collaboration, and Community

As students prepare for the interconnected world of this century, their culminating capstone senior requirement is a student-designed service learning project with a non-profit organization that draws on their talents and synthesizes their experience.

A merely well-informed man is the most useless bore on earth.… Scraps of information” are only worth something if they are “thrown into fresh combinations. A pupil’s mind is not a box to be ruthlessly packed with alien ideas. The students are alive.

- Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education, 1929

Graduation Requirements and Recommended courses of study

Sixteen high school credits are required for graduation including:

English 4 units
History 2 units (one of which must be United States History)
Mathematics 3 units (with Algebra II as the minimum)
Science 2 units (one of which must be a life science and the other a physical science)
Performing Arts ½ credit which can be fulfilled in a variety of ways
Visual Arts ½ credit in ninth grade
World Language 3 consecutive units of one language
  • Health and Physical Activity are non-credit graduation requirements.
  • Forty hours of community service are required for graduation.
  • In keeping with the school’s goals for 21st-century education, computer education will be integrated into the larger curriculum, so there is no longer a discrete requirement.
  • The expected student load in grades nine through twelve is five major courses.
  • Though two units of history and science are required, we recommend that students take three of each.

In courses where there is a prerequisite, we have highlighted that information in the course description section. Remember that your course of study must meet all the graduation requirements and should challenge you while still allowing time for co-curricular activities.

The Shipley School

814 Yarrow Street, Bryn Mawr PA 19010
T: 610.525.4300 F: 610.525.5082
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