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The Urban School
of San Francisco
1563 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 626 2919

The Urban Curriculum

Urban’s curriculum is rich and broad, including core academic classes common to most high schools, as well as an unusually large number of specialized courses, advanced electives and creative arts courses usually found at the college level. 

All Urban courses share a common pedagogical approach based on the following principles: the expectation that students be active participants in their education; a commitment to cooperative learning and collaboration among students; an understanding and respect for the achievements, experiences and perspectives of various peoples, cultures and races; and the use of the Bay Area’s environmental, cultural and intellectual resources to extend learning beyond the classroom.

Urban’s program seeks to involve students in their broader community — the school, the city, the world — and develop in them a sense of social responsibility. Urban classes are characterized by the enthusiastic engagement of both students and teachers in the learning process. The nature and quality of classes result in part from the school’s block schedule and longer class periods, which allow for more intense and focused study of the material.

Beyond a core curriculum that builds a firm framework of general knowledge and conceptual understanding in each of the disciplines, the Urban academic program gives students the opportunity to develop deep knowledge and understanding of chosen topics beyond the core, where they delve deeply into specific historical eras, focus on one author in an English class or pursue a unique theoretical question in mathematics. At each stage of their learning, the Urban curriculum anchors students in habits of mind that support successful achievement in high school and beyond and create a context for lifelong intellectual enrichment.


The Urban School curriculum provides an exceptionally strong foundation in college preparatory subjects. Many of our classes have distinctive features that set them apart as particularly challenging and comparable to college level work. These classes, designated as UAS (Urban Advanced Studies), are developed by the Urban faculty and comprise the school's most rigorous coursework. UAS classes are offered in every subject area and most are recognized by colleges (including the University of California) as honors level courses. Many Urban students choose to take Advanced Placement subject exams after taking these courses.

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