The Urban Curriculum

Urban teachers challenge themselves the same way we challenge our students — by questioning conventional approaches to teaching in order to unlock something greater.”

Urban’s curriculum is rich and extensive, including core academic classes, as well as an unusually large number of specialized courses, advanced electives and creative arts courses usually found at the college level. See our 2023-24 curriculum guide here and to review our 2024-25 curriculum, please reference the menu on the left of this page.

All Urban courses share a common educational approach based on the following principles:

  • the expectation that students be active participants in their education
  • a commitment to collaboration and cooperation among students
  • building skills, knowledge, and habits of mind in order to achieve and express depth of understanding
  • an understanding and respect for the achievements, experiences and perspectives of people of diverse backgrounds and identities
  • use of the Bay Area’s rich environmental, cultural and intellectual resources to extend learning beyond the classroom.

Urban’s academic program seeks to involve students in their broader community — the school, the city, the world — and develop in them a sense of social responsibility. Beyond a core curriculum that builds a firm framework of general knowledge and conceptual understanding in each of the disciplines, the Urban program gives students the opportunity to develop deep knowledge and fluency with skills and ways of thinking across disciplines. Rather than just learning a particular set of facts, students learn how to be independent, critical thinkers. 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.

Urban Advanced Studies (UAS)

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.