Get ready for an intellectual journey

At Agnes Irwin, we know there's no one way to learn — every path is different. Our Upper School curriculum empowers students to explore their interests through tailored classes, independent research, and other opportunities to delve deep.

Our Philosophy

We like to think of our curriculum as a "choose-your-own-adventure" story. Students partner with teachers, advisors, and parents to curate their learning and uncover hidden passions along the way. Here, upper schoolers can take on classes like Astrophysics, Anatomy and Physiology, Art and Society, the Third Reich and the Holocaust, Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra, Neuropsychology, Film as History, and more.
We know that girls are more engaged in learning when it is relevant to their lives — and when their schools give them the opportunity to choose what it is they're learning.

Explore Course Offerings

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Our Program

Agnes Irwin offers a rich and diverse curriculum that provides girls with a deep foundation in the humanities, mathematics and science, wellness and athletics. Upper schoolers are required to study a wide variety of subjects, with the flexibility to pursue their individual interests.

For example: Four years of English are required in Upper School, but during senior year, students choose two semester-long courses on topics of their choosing — such as The Craft of Playwriting; Irish Literature; Exploring Mental Illness in Literature; Modernism; and Contemporary Native American Literature, among other options.

Graduation Requirements

English — 4 years
Language — 3 consecutive years of Modern Language or completion of Latin III or Greek III
History — 3 years 
Mathematics — 3 years
Science — 3 years
Arts — 2 years
Electives — Varies
Physical Education — 4 years
Senior Assembly
Community Service — 40 hours
SSP — 4 years 

Chart your own course.

Below are just a few of the courses available to students in our course booklet. And, since we are intentional about igniting curiosity in our students, we're always exploring new ideas for courses to offer.

Artist as Entrepreneur

What does it take to “make it” in the art world? Talent, sure — but a keen business sense doesn’t hurt. Students can explore the “business side of art” in The Artist as Entrepreneur. Students begin the semester researching artists and building a body of inspiration based on websites, Instagram, and podcasts. From their research they gain tools needed to promote the arts as a business. Students will form their own small business using branding boards and prototypes to design specific products they wish to market. Students will have an opportunity to meet with successful local artists and makers through a series of field trips, with a particular focus on women in the arts.

Global Health and the Girl Child

This seminar-style course explores the most pressing topics in global health issues facing girls today. Augmented with guest lectures by experts in the field, this course invites students to explore topics through discussion, research papers and solution-seeking group challenges. With a special focus on health inequities, this course discusses chronic illness, the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and human trafficking.

Independent Science Research

In Agnes Irwin’s Independent Science Research Program, students conduct an independent science project to experience how science is done in the “real world.” Students are matched with mentors who guide their research project, and typically spend 4-8 weeks working in a research laboratory before writing up their findings to be presented to the AIS community. Over the last eight years, the ISR program has given over 40 students an opportunity to see science in action as they research topics in biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science alongside our community partners, including professors at University of Pennsylvania College of Medicine, Villanova University, Ursinus College, and CHOP.

Honors History

During senior year, history students delve deeper through courses like African and African American History, International Relations, Middle Eastern History, Third Reich and the Holocaust, and History Through Fiction. Students can also elect to pursue an optional honors designation, choosing a related topic that interests them, and exploring it further through a yearlong independent research project.

Signature Programs

Every AIS upper schooler takes part in our three signature programs: our Special Studies Program, Senior Assembly, and Senior Seminars.

Special Studies Program

SSPs are our immersive learning adventures held each spring. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors can choose on-campus options or travel to far-off places to broaden their horizons and ways of thinking.
 

Learn More

Senior Assembly

By senior year, the art of public speaking is second nature to our students. Each senior prepares and presents a 10-minute speech on a topic of her choice, sharing her passion and knowledge with the entire Upper School community. 

Senior Seminars

After final exams, seniors take part in Senior Seminars: short, focused classes on thought-provoking topics including neuroscience, French culture, wellness, and AIS's College 101, a frank discussion with young alum about what to expect about life on campus.