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. 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 receive a Curriculum book along with 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 submit electronically 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 H, and L (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 an extra period; others may meet only three periods a week.

The course descriptions in this book are accurate at the time of publication. However, the information listed is subject to revision and change 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 he or she 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.


Once a student has finalized a course of study and submitted his or her program to the Academic Office, he or she may drop or add courses only with the approval of his or her advisor and permission of the Academic Office. Normally, students will not be allowed to drop or add courses later than the second week of each semester. A course listed as Year may only be added or dropped during the period of the fall semester when changes are allowed.


Courses at the School are offered by academic departments, such as English and Mathematics, and the departments are in turn grouped into divisions: Humanities; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); 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. Exceptions to the distributional requirements may be granted by the Academic Office.

After his or her first semester at Middlesex, a student may elect to take an additional half-credit or full-credit course with the permission of his or her 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 his or her 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.

At an absolute minimum, Middlesex requires a student to attend 80% of the 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.

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 School, 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 Curriculum. 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.


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; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Social Sciences; and Arts. Students are expected to elect courses among the four divisions in the following ratio of semester-length courses:

HUMANITIES                       7
STEM                                        5
SOCIAL SCIENCES             2
ARTS                                         1
UNRESTRICTED                5

Exceptions to these requirements may be granted by the Academic Office to students pursuing advanced academic programs, 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. Students should take the most demanding courses consistent with their abilities and interests. 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, 12, 13, or 14); a semester course in Mindfulness; 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 he or she 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); Modern World History in the second semester and either Early Modern World History or The Ancient World in the first semester. Returning members of Class III must complete the requirements in Elements of Style (Art 11, 12, 13, or 14). Entering members of Class III must take Art 11 during one semester and Art 12, 13, or 14 during the other semester. In addition, students in Class III must elect an additional full-credit course each semester offered in Biology, Chemistry, or Computer Science to complete their schedule. A student in Class III may take a second foreign language only if he or she 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 Advanced Topics 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)

An English elective each semester. In addition, each student must take four more full-credit courses 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 Art 11, 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.


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 his or her 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) how he or she will spend his or her time, b) a clear objective for the Program, and c) 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 to 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 this curriculum book and sponsored by teaching members of the Middlesex faculty. In addition to independent work, a student is expected to meet no fewer than two academic periods per week with his or her 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 confer academic credit, even though they may involve academic or intellectual activity, and they do not receive a grade. An Independent Project may stand in lieu of one or more courses. Independent Projects may serve in lieu of distributional requirements, but not departmental ones.


Any student may audit an academic course, but only with the permission of the instructor. No vote of the Studies Committee is required. Course audit forms are available in the Academic Office. A student may not audit 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 his or her 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.


Designated restricted assessment weeks are in effect several times during the academic year. Full-period tests (and the submission of major papers) are restricted during the weeks that conclude the four marking periods or occur just prior to long vacations. Teaching faculty will make every effort to observe both the letter and the spirit of this protocol. Major graded work should be assigned, and tests announced, well in advance (5 days) of the due date. Tests spread over two blocks, or double assignments – a paper and a test – should be avoided during restricted assessment weeks.

During restricted assessment weeks, any teacher planning to use more than one block for an assessment must get prior approval from the Academic Office. Any teacher assigning work outside a test block that takes longer than a regular night of homework or is worth more than a regular night of homework in a student’s grade must get prior approval from the Academic Office.


Academic assignments over the Thanksgiving break, winter holiday and spring vacation are limited to one regular (nightly) homework assignment due on the first day of classes following the break.


Comprehensive exams are administered during two weeklong periods in the fall and spring: preceding the December break and at the end of the second semester. Students in Class I will only be required to take a spring exam in a departmental required course outside of English and in Latin 62. A comprehensive exam counts 25% of the corresponding class’ final semester average.

A student may not receive a numerical grade for a course in which he or she does not take the comprehensive exam. Absent extraordinary mitigating circumstances, all comprehensive exams must be taken on the Middlesex School campus.

In the case of a comprehensive exam that is postponed for reasons of prolonged illness or injury, a student will be expected to make up the exam as soon as he or she is physically able. In the case of the fall semester, comprehensive exams must be completed before the end of the first week of the School’s March Break and in the case of the spring semester, comprehensive exams must be completed prior to the first day of classes in September.


Letter grades are given to all students at the end of each quarter, and numerical grades are given for examinations and at the end of each semester using the following format:

A+ = 97-100           A = 93-96                A- = 90-92

B+ = 87-89             B = 83-86                B- = 80-82

C+ = 77-79             C = 73-76                C- = 70-72

D+ = 67-69             D = 63-66                D- = 60-62

F = 50-59


A passing grade is D- (60) or above. A semester grade lower than 60 constitutes a failure and must be made up by taking an approved course of study over the summer in the area of the failed course. The Academic Office approves courses for summer study.

Once grades have been entered at the conclusion of a quarter, these grades will be computed in determining final semester averages, even if the student switches sections before the end of the semester.

Academic credits are awarded by semester, and not by the year. Therefore, a failing grade in a fall semester course cannot be averaged against a passing grade in the spring semester of the same course.

Grades and academic comments will be published four times a year. Advisors will review grades with their advisees and will publish a letter each semester. Once grades have been reviewed by teachers and advisors and shared with parents, they will not normally be subject to change.


Academic honors are awarded in the following two categories according to grade point average:

Honors                   85.00 – 89.99

High Honors         90.00 and above


Upon completion of each semester, students achieving Honors receive a certificate; students earning High Honors are presented with a certificate and an engraved bowl which remains on display while the student is at Middlesex. Any student who receives more than one P as a semester grade or who has taken fewer than the usual credits in any given semester will be ineligible to receive honors or high honors during that semester.

A regular Middlesex Diploma is awarded to each student whose lifetime average at Middlesex School is below 85.00.

A Middlesex Diploma with Credit is awarded to each student whose lifetime average at Middlesex School is between 85.00 and 89.99.

A Middlesex Diploma with High Credit is awarded to each student whose lifetime average at Middlesex School is between 90.00 and 92.99.

A Middlesex Diploma with Highest Credit is awarded to each student whose lifetime average at Middlesex School is 93.00 or above. A student on whose transcript more than one P shows in a semester or who has taken fewer than the usual credits in any given semester is not eligible to receive a Diploma with Highest Credit.


In addition to honors, students in Classes I, II, and III are eligible to receive improvement awards if their semester averages are substantially above their previous best achievements while at Middlesex. The faculty has devised a formula which compares each student’s current average with his or her previous best average. If the increase is substantial enough, an improvement award is given.


A student is placed on Academic Probation if, at the end of any semester except the first semester of the Class IV year, the student’s grades include one of the following:

1. a failing grade in any course;

2. two or more courses with final semester averages below 70;

3. an overall semester average below 75.


If a student falls into any of these three situations, the School feels there is substantial cause for concern.

When a student is placed on Academic Probation for the first time, the Academic Office will send a letter to the parents expressing concern. In addition, the student will consult with his or her advisor and meet with the Director of Studies. An appropriate set of remedial measures, such as tutorials, regular counseling, study hall attendance both during the class day and in the evenings, a reduction in extracurricular commitments, and changes in living and study habits will be implemented, to be supervised by the student’s advisor. While a member of Class IV in his or her first semester will not be placed formally on Academic Probation, he or she will be subject to similar supportive measures.

Should a student be placed on Academic Probation two consecutive semesters, he or she will then meet with the Director of Studies and the student’s advisor to review the student’s academic situation in depth. This meeting is intended to reinforce, in the mind of both student and parents, the increasing seriousness of the situation. At this time a student may be asked to leave the School if it is determined that the student has failed to adhere to the recommendations of the School concerning action necessary to improve his or her academic standing.

Any student who is placed on Academic Probation for three consecutive semesters will not be permitted to return to School the following semester, subject to Academic Council review and recommendation and with the approval of the Head of School.

A student who is removed from Academic Probation after a single semester reverts to the status of all other students. However, a student who sustains two consecutive semesters on Academic Probation and whose performance the third semester improves enough to remove that student from Academic Probation may still be dismissed at the conclusion of the following semester if his or her performance falls back into the Academic Probation category. This does not apply, however, to seniors in their last semester at the School.

A student, who accumulates three academic failures, either at the conclusion of the first semester or by the end of the academic year, cannot be promoted to the next semester. For that reason, the student will be dismissed from the School, subject to the approval of the Head of School.


During the fall and spring semesters of a student’s Class I year, the Director of College Counseling in consultation with the Director of Studies may determine whether to place a number grade or a P on the report card and transcript of a member of Class I based on which grade best represents the student and the School in the college process.

A P may be substituted for a grade subject to the following conditions:

  • No course taken to fulfill a specific departmental requirement may be selected.
  • Advanced Placement courses cannot be taken PASS/GRADE.
  • If the final grade in the course is below 70, the numerical grade stands and is counted in the student’s semester average.
  • Except when an approved Senior Project takes the place of more than one academic course, a minimum of four grades must appear on a transcript.  That is, absent extraordinary mitigating circumstances, a member of Class I’s transcript will report no more than one P in each semester.
  • The Director of College Counseling in consultation with the Director of Studies will determine whether to place a number grade or a P on a member of Class I’s report card and transcript based on which grade best represents the student and the School in the college process (a grade of 80 or higher is almost never replaced by a P). A grade of P will not be used solely to inflate a student’s grade point average for Middlesex School academic honors and awards.


All teachers expect to see students outside class for extra help sessions – both those who are succeeding and those who are struggling with class material. After attending regular extra help with his or her teacher and taking advantage of the School’s Peer Tutors, any student who is still experiencing academic difficulty in a course may arrange for tutoring with permission of the Academic Office. The student’s advisor, after consulting with parents, the teacher, the Head of the Department, and the Academic Office, works with the student and the tutor to schedule meetings.

If a student and his or her advisor feel that additional help is needed in study skills, organizational skills, time management, reading comprehension, or language skills, the advisor should contact the Academic Office after a conversation with the parents of the advisee. The Academic Office will help coordinate arrangements as appropriate.

All tutoring sessions must be arranged so as not to conflict with the School’s evening study hours.

As a matter of law, all persons who work with students on the Middlesex campus must be subject to a Criminal Office Records Investigation (CORI) background check.

When it is necessary, Middlesex may suggest that a family contact a neuropsychologist for diagnostic testing. The advisor and the parents engage this process along with the Academic Office. The Academic Office can advise families of the types of testing available and can recommend professional testers. Student academic testing is kept on file in the Academic Office. The Testing Committee reviews all academic testing and distributes recommendations to a student’s teachers as appropriate. Middlesex School’s internal review of testing is independent from any national testing board’s determination regarding accommodation.


Middlesex expects honesty of all its students at all times. It is assumed that each Middlesex student will be responsible for his or her 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.

Any Middlesex student who is guilty of academic dishonesty (that is, plagiarism or cheating) places his or her Middlesex career in jeopardy and may be dismissed.