Academic Information and Policies


The purpose of the Middlesex academic program is to instill a love of learning and develop the skills that are essential to education in the liberal arts, the fine arts, and the sciences. By and large, the process for developing these skills is collaborative. Learning requires a meeting of faculty and student minds. With small classes, students have the opportunity — indeed, the obligation — to participate actively in the learning process. A Middlesex education depends on each student’s presence and good citizenship in class as bedrock elements of the academic program. While at times participation may entail simply listening attentively, more often participation calls for thoughtful class preparation and active involvement in class discussion or class presentations. In such circumstances, teachers are best able to guide students in developing their strengths and strengthening their weaknesses. Students also share responsibility for monitoring their own progress and are expected to seek extra help whenever they find themselves confused or in need of further support. Toward this end, the School provides its students with small classes; a talented, dedicated, and accessible faculty; and the rich and varied curriculum described in the pages that follow.


Middlesex School encourages its students to think carefully about course selection and to create each year a course of study consistent with their interests, strengths, and background.

Each year, students will be invited to review the Curriculum and receive instructions from the Academic Office for creating a course of study.

In planning their program for the coming academic year, current students must meet with their advisors to electronically submit their course requests. Entering students receive information from the Academic Office regarding appropriate course requests and placement.

Department heads play an active role in the course selection process. In some departments, such as Mathematics, Science and in each of the languages, the department heads place students in the appropriate courses and levels each semester.

Courses at Middlesex are scheduled by time blocks, lettered A through G (these blocks are subject to change as students’ schedules are configured). Each block represents a number of class periods a week. Some courses may include extra periods, X; others may meet fewer periods a week.

The Curriculum provides the essential minimum of information necessary to request academic courses. For a full description of academic policies, refer to the Handbook. The course descriptions are accurate at the time of publication. However, the information listed is subject to revision and change from time to time including, but not limited to, course content and requirements at the discretion of the School and updated course descriptions are available on the School’s website. Although we hope to offer the courses described in this catalogue, courses that do not directly fulfill a diploma requirement will not be taught if enrollment is insufficient. It is the hope of the School to schedule each student into the courses the student has requested. However, for a variety of reasons it is not always possible to schedule each particular student into every course requested.


A course listed as Year must be taken both semesters in succession. Only in an extraordinary circumstance may a student drop a yearlong course at the end of the first semester with the permission of the Department and the Academic Office. A course listed as either Fall or Spring may be elected only in that semester. A course listed as Fall, Spring may be taken in either, but not both, semesters.


Courses at the School are offered by academic departments, such as English and Mathematics, and the departments are in turn grouped into divisions: Humanities; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); Social Sciences; and Arts. Students are expected to meet requirements set by the departments and within the four divisions.

All students are expected to take a minimum of five-and-a-half courses each semester during their Class IV (Grade 9) and Class III (Grade 10) years, and five courses each semester during their Class II (Grade 11) and Class I (Grade 12) years, unless the faculty has made a special exception. Students in Classes I and II should elect their five courses within the limits set by the distributional requirements. In extraordinary circumstances, exceptions to the distributional requirements may be granted by the Academic Office.

After their first semester at Middlesex, a student may elect to take an additional half-credit or full-credit course with the permission of their advisor and the Academic Office and the approval of the Studies Committee. If a student taking an extra course fails one of the courses in their program, that student owes the School a credit to be made up in summer school. No student will be allowed to add for credit or audit a second extra course.

Middlesex requires a student to attend 80% of scheduled classes per course to be eligible to receive credit for the course based on the student’s graded performance. If attendance is below 80%, a vote of the faculty is required for course credit represented by either a numerical grade or a P (for Pass) or NC (for No Credit). Any P or NC placed on a transcript in lieu of a numerical grade is solely at the discretion of the School. If attendance is below 75%, any vote for credit will be represented on a student’s transcript with a P, as a numerical grade cannot accurately represent a student’s mastery of the course material or by NC if no credit is given. If attendance is below 70%, no vote will be taken, and the student cannot receive credit for the course. Please see the Handbook for further information.

An essential element of Middlesex course credit is physical presence during scheduled class meetings.  Academic citizenship includes participation in daily classwork as a contributor and active listener and the experience of the Middlesex classroom relies on the collective effort of each group of students.  Electronic attendance cannot serve in lieu of presence during a class meeting.

A student may not advance to the next school year without successfully acquiring the minimum credits required for the previous academic year. No more than two course credits may be made up through summer work.

To graduate from Middlesex, a student must fulfill the School’s academic requirements, as outlined by grade, department, and number and distribution of credits in the Curriculum; carve a plaque that is acceptable to the faculty member overseeing the plaques; and meet all other School obligations, such as class attendance and athletic and arts requirements. Given our commitment to senior leadership and presence in the community, graduation also requires on-campus completion of the year in which the student is enrolled as a member of Class I.

Students who fulfill these requirements are eligible for a diploma. All Middlesex diplomas are awarded by a vote of the Middlesex faculty, with academic honors acknowledged as outlined in the Handbook. Middlesex does not grant diplomas to students who have already graduated from a secondary school or the international equivalent; such students may be eligible for a certificate of attendance, which is also awarded by vote of the faculty.


Departmental requirements consist of specific courses which aim to develop in all students such fundamental skills as insightful reading, critical thinking, coherent writing, probing research and accurate calculating – skills that will enable students to do sophisticated work at Middlesex and beyond. Because Middlesex promotes both breadth and depth of study, a student in their Class IV, Class III, or Class II year will not normally be permitted to suspend study in one department in order to take two courses in another.

In many cases, students are given credit for departmental requirements if they have previously taken courses at the high school level which are the equivalent of these requirements. For example, an entering member of Class III would not be required to take Math 22 if the student had completed geometry before coming to Middlesex.


All students must take an English course each semester. Students in Class IV must take English 10 and 11, students in Class III, English 20 and 21 and the Writing Workshop, and students in Class II, English 30 and 31. Students in Class I must select one course offered by the English Department each semester.


All students must take math through the level of Math 32 (Pre-calculus: Trigonometry) and they are expected to continue the study of mathematics through their Class I year.  Students entering Middlesex during their Class II year may be waived from completing Math 32, but must study math during each semester at Middlesex.


All students must take at least two full years of laboratory science and they are strongly advised to take three years of laboratory science. For the purpose of this requirement, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science are considered laboratory sciences.  Students hoping to take particular AP sciences during their time at Middlesex must pay careful attention to the prerequisites paired with each course and plan their science sequence accordingly.

Foreign Languages

All students must study a single foreign language through Middlesex’s third-year level or continue the study of a single foreign language through the conclusion of their Class I year. Students may not satisfy this requirement by completing two years in one language and an additional year in another. Students admitted during their Class II year who have successfully completed three years of one foreign language in high school are encouraged, but not required, to continue the study of a foreign language. The School will support the efforts of native and heritage speakers to take appropriate national standardized tests. Middlesex will not allow a member of Class III or IV who enrolls with skills sufficient to take the AP test in a language to meet the School’s language requirement in that language. Students are encouraged to continue their language study through the Class I year. A student may study two foreign languages simultaneously only if the student has reached Middlesex’s second year of study in one of the languages.


All students must take at least four semesters of high school history (any course designated as History). It is recommended that students in Class IV take The Ancient World (History 10) and a Topics in World History course (History 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15). It is strongly recommended that students in Class III take Early Modern World History (History 20) and Modern World History (History 21). Students who wish to take the Advanced Placement examination in World History should enroll in both History 20 and History 21 and attend the exam preparation workshop offered by the Department during the spring semester. All students in Class II are required to complete a full-year course in United States History. Students may only request Advanced Placement United States History (History 41) if they have completed both Early Modern World History (History 20) and Modern World History (History 21).


All students entering Class IV must take four Elements of Style courses (Art 11, 12M or 12E, 13, and 14) in their first two years, one each semester. New students entering Class III must take two Elements of Style courses, one each semester. Returning students in Class III will take those Elements of Style courses not covered the preceding year.


In addition to the departmental requirements, students are expected to meet distributional requirements during their Class II and Class I years. These are designed to provide students with a balanced exposure to the Humanities; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math); Social Sciences; and Arts. Students are expected to elect courses among the four divisions in the following ratio of semester-length courses:

HUMANITIES               7        ARTS                       1
STEM                            5        UNRESTRICTED   5

In extraordinary circumstances, exceptions to these requirements may be granted by the Academic Office, although no more than one credit will be waived. The Arts requirement will not be waived. This requirement may be fulfilled through arts courses or active participation in music lessons, chorus, or drama. Students having questions about the suitability of a particular course in meeting these requirements should seek advice from the Academic Office.


All four years of a student’s academic program are important. The School advises that all students take four years of mathematics, four years of foreign language, and three years of laboratory science.

In planning an academic program, the following curricular models for each class will be useful:

Class IV (Grade 9)

English 10 and 11; Mathematics (the level will be determined by the Department); a foreign language (the level will be determined by the Department); one course each semester from Elements of Style (Art 11, 12M or 12E, or 13); a course in Mindfulness; and Relationships and Communication in the semester each is offered, and any two other full-credit courses each semester offered to Class IV in History, Biology, Chemistry, or Computer Science. A student in Class IV may take a second foreign language only if the student has reached Middlesex’s second year of study in one of the languages.

Class III (Grade 10)

English 20 and 21 and the Writing Workshop; Mathematics (the level will be determined by the Department); a foreign language (the level will be determined by the Department); Early Modern World History in the first semester and Modern World History in the second semester. Returning members of Class III must complete the requirements in Elements of Style (Art 11, 12M, 13, or 14). Entering members of Class III must take two Elements of Style courses, one each semester; and a course in Mindfulness in the semester it is offered. In addition, all students in Class III must elect an additional full-credit course each semester offered in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Computer Science to complete their schedule. A student in Class III may take a second foreign language only if the student has reached Middlesex’s second year of study in one of the languages.

Class II (Grade 11)

English 30 and 31; Mathematics at the appropriate level; United States History (History 30 or History 41); a foreign language; and one additional full-credit course each semester from those open to members of Class II. Juniors are strongly encouraged to elect Physics, or if Biology, Chemistry and Physics have been completed, an Applied Science or Advanced Placement science course. In determining the suitability of a particular course or courses, students are required to consult with their advisors and are encouraged to seek advice from Department Heads, the College Counselors, and the Academic Office. Students should be aware of distributional requirements for Class II and Class I when planning their schedules and should consider their program for their Class II year in light of a possible program for their Class I year.

Class I (Grade 12)

A senior English course (English 40s in the fall and 50s in the spring) each semester. In addition, each student must take four more full-credit courses and the Plaque course each semester. It is strongly recommended that students continue mathematics through their Class I year. In choosing all of their courses, students are responsible for fulfilling both the departmental and the distributional requirements of the School for graduation. Once again, students are required to consult with their advisors and are encouraged to seek advice from Department Heads, the College Counselors, and the Academic Office.


Preparation for Advanced Placement examinations is offered in more than 20 subject areas. The requirements for admission to AP courses vary from department to department. For instance, admission to AP Economics is based on performance in both United States History and previous courses in mathematics; and admission to AP Art History is based on performance in United States History and English 30 and 31. Admission to all Advanced Placement courses depends on demonstrated mastery of the subject in preceding courses as well as permission of the specific Department. Students will not be allowed to audit Advanced Placement courses. Any exception to this rule must be approved by the Academic Office.

A student enrolled in a Middlesex course designated as Advanced Placement must take that designated AP examination in May. Only the Director of College Counseling, in consultation with the Academic Office, may excuse a student from an AP examination. In cases where a student does not sit for an AP exam, absent extraordinary mitigating circumstances, they will be required to take a cumulative exam to receive credit for the second semester subject to the usual grade calculations involving cumulative examinations.


Any student wishing to pursue a course of study not specifically offered in this course book may petition the Academic Office for permission to undertake a semester-length independent study option.

The Independent Study Program includes both Independent Courses and Independent Projects. In any semester, a student may only have one Independent Course or Independent Project as part of their academic program. Applications may be obtained from the Academic Office and must be submitted by the announced deadline; late applications will not normally be considered. Since the Independent Study Program is intended to allow a student to engage in study that is independent, the School will not normally allow more than two students to participate in a given Independent Course or Independent Project. (A member of the faculty may only sponsor one Independent Course or Independent Project in a semester). A student applying to the Independent Study Program must provide a written plan that clearly indicates a) their connection to the Program, b) how the student will spend their time, c) a clear objective for the Program, and d) an explanation of what will be produced during the Program (journals, papers, reports, presentations, etc.). This plan must demonstrate that the amount of time invested in the Program is the equivalent of the amount of time spent in the class(es) dropped. In consultation with advisors and the Academic Office, the Studies Committee will evaluate and approve all petitions to the Independent Study Program.

An Independent Course is a course of study not specifically offered in the Curriculum and sponsored by a teaching member of the Middlesex faculty. Independent Courses are linked to an academic department at Middlesex and must align with that department’s standards for a full credit course. In addition to independent work, a student is expected to meet no fewer than two academic periods per week with the faculty sponsor and to produce regular papers, reports, or other suitable academic materials. While Independent Courses are usually taken for a grade, members of Class I may take an Independent Course under the PASS/GRADE system.

For the spring semester, a member of Class I may pursue a part-time or full-time Independent Project, on or off campus. Independent Projects, unlike Independent Courses, do not meet the standards of a Middlesex academic department and do not have to be taught by a teaching member of the faculty. In rare cases involving an off campus or unusual program, an Independent Project may not confer academic credit, even though it may involve academic or intellectual activity. In this second case, an Independent Project may stand in lieu of one or more courses or in lieu of distributional requirements, but not departmental ones. Independent Projects receive a grade of P on the Middlesex transcript.


Any student may audit an academic course, but only with the permission of the instructor and a properly completed and approved audit form. Course audit forms are available in the Academic Office. A student may not audit any course that is designated as an AP or any course that is fully enrolled, and students wishing to take a course for credit will be enrolled prior to students planning to audit. Regular attendance and completion of a minimum of 80% of the work is required before the School will note the audit on a student’s transcript. The student must join the class during the drop/add period at the beginning of the semester and continue through the end of the semester in order to be granted formal recognition of the audit. A student enrolled in an extra course may not audit an additional course. The student or instructor may end the audit at any point during the semester by instructing the Academic Office to remove the course from the student’s transcript. A student who audits a course for the complete semester will be included on class lists and will receive written quarterly comments and a notation of “audit” on their transcript. A student may not request an audit after completion of a course, nor use an audit to fulfill a department or distribution requirement, nor receive a grade or credit for the course.


Middlesex expects honesty of all its students at all times. It is assumed that each Middlesex student will be responsible for their own work in accordance with the principles teachers establish for each course. Students must understand that, should they hand in work that is for any reason not substantially their own, they may be accused of academic dishonesty. Please see the Handbook for full details regarding Middlesex’s integrity policies and procedures.

Any Middlesex student who is guilty of academic dishonesty including plagiarism, unauthorized use of AI, cheating, etc., places their Middlesex career in jeopardy and may be dismissed.