Course Catalog & Academic Departments
For information on our courses, use the drop down menu above to explore course offerings or refer to the printed PDF version of the course catalogue.
Two interwoven priorities define the Choate Rosemary Hall experience: a rigorous academic curriculum and an emphasis on the formation of character in a residential setting that allows for teachers and students to live with, and learn from, each other in important ways.
The curriculum inspires students to:
- think critically and to communicate clearly;
- understand various methods of intellectual inquiry and their connections to each other;
- recognize the interconnections of learning;
- work independently and in partnership with others;
- develop a global perspective on cultural, social, political, and environmental issues;
- appreciate the importance of beauty and grace in their lives; and
- achieve distinction in accordance with their individual interests and talents.
In these ways, students are prepared to seek knowledge for its own sake and to pursue further study at the finest colleges and universities.
The development of character is a responsibility that rests with every member of the community. In classrooms, on playing fields, in residential houses, students grow in confidence and self-esteem, and are instilled with such fundamental values as honesty, integrity, teamwork, generosity, and compassion toward others. Choate Rosemary Hall also fosters community involvement and service as it prepares students to assume leadership roles in an ever-changing world. As part of its commitment to character formation, the school offers regular community-wide reflections on moral and spiritual issues, as well as exposure to various religious traditions.
Choate Rosemary Hall attracts intellectually gifted and motivated students from diverse backgrounds whose commitment to serious study is enhanced in this personally supportive and academically challenging setting. On a campus that inspires a particular sensitivity to beauty, teachers–who share genuine respect and affection for young people–impart an enthusiasm for life and for learning.
Choate Rosemary Hall is confident that its graduates will go forth from a school that values each of them for their particular talents and enthusiasms; that affirms the importance of personal integrity and a sense of self-worth; that inspires and nourishes joy in learning and love of truth; and that provides the intellectual stimulation to generate independent thought, confident expression, and a commitment to improve the welfare of others.
Choate Rosemary Hall's comprehensive curriculum fosters broad exposure in all disciplines, while also offering students an opportunity to discover and pursue special areas of interest. We expect students to avail themselves of the richness of our academic program; nonetheless, they need to understand that they can't do everything; they must learn to make choices. As they make these choices, students are expected to enter fully into the educational process by making academic responsibilities their first commitment. Thus, as students plan their time at Choate, in consultation with their parents, an adviser, a dean, and, at the appropriate time, a college counselor, discussions must include considerations of balance and quality as well as adventure. We encourage students to pursue their passions in a manner that helps them to manage all of their commitments here in a successful, rewarding manner.
Each of our six academic departments offers traditional core courses as well as a variety of electives. All departments also offer honors and advanced placement courses, as well as opportunities for Directed Studies. Course levels are determined on the basis of academic preparedness, ability, and talent in each subject area, not necessarily by age or grade levels.
Among the features of our curriculum are:
- the first teaching, research, and residential environmental center in U.S. secondary education that provides an interdisciplinary immersion program in environmental studies;.
- language immersion programs in China, France, and Spain as well as a cultural immersion program in Rome, Italy;
- the Arts Concentration Program, designed to provide passionate and dedicated students the opportunity for serious study and performance in music, theater and visual arts;
- the Capstone Program, an opportunity for talented sixth form students to explore an area of study in depth;
- an economics program that features eight courses, and the opportunity to participate in outside competitions, such as the Economics Challenge;
- the Science Research Program, an opportunity for motivated and independent science students to practice true laboratory science;
- an Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Program, which marries intensive linguistic study of Modern Standard Arabic with courses on the literature and cultures of the Middle East;
- an array of interdisciplinary and science courses focusing on the environment;
- a two-term creative writing seminar for qualified sixth formers;
- an interdepartmental course in American Studies taught by the English and history departments;
- a Senior Project Program in the spring term that allows qualified sixth formers to work either on or off campus in various internships, to serve as research assistants, or to participate in academic study opportunities or creative projects in music, theater, and visual arts;
- courses in psychology, philosophy, and religion;
- demonstrated proficiency testing in English, language, and mathematics;
- full integration of computer education into the academic curriculum;
- the Teaching and Learning Center, providing both students and faculty with resources designed to strengthen their learning and teaching; and
- an on-campus nursery school and day care program that serves Wallingford and surrounding communities and is a laboratory school for our child development courses.
Students work closely with their advisers and form deans to plan their academic program. To get an overview of what their entire career may look like, an overview that will obviously change as students’ interests change, students may find helpful the four-year planning sheet located on the Registrar’s Office web site or on Choate’s intranet site CHIP. Advisers and form deans assist students not only in selecting courses but also in making decisions about participating in extracurricular activities, Summer Programs, Directed Studies, Study Abroad opportunities (academic term and summer), and Senior Projects.
The department head, in consultation with the Registrar or Dean of Academic Affairs as appropriate, determines course placement for new students. These decisions are based upon standardized test scores, teacher recommendations from the previous school, previous grades in the discipline, the submission of graded papers, and in some cases, a placement examination (language and mathematics).
Although every effort is made to offer the courses during the terms indicated in this Course Catalogue, there are times when low enrollment and/or available resources do not allow a course to run. In those instances, the student and his or her dean are notified as quickly as possible so that adjustments can be made to the student’s program.
Note: Choate Rosemary Hall uses “form” in referring to grade level. Third form is grade 9; fourth form is grade 10; fifth form is grade 11; and sixth form is grade 12.
Questions regarding diploma requirements may be directed to the Registrar, the student’s form dean, the department head, or the Dean of Academic Affairs.
Overall Graduation Requirements
To receive a Choate Rosemary Hall diploma, a student must:
- satisfactorily complete the required courses listed below;
- complete the course load requirement of five full-credit courses each term as explained below;
- receive passing term grades for all courses taken spring term of the sixth form year;
- fulfill the athletic requirements; and
- fulfill the Community Service requirement.
Note 1: Questions involving a requirement waiver or establishing a special program for a student with unusual interests or talents should be referred to the Dean of Academic Affairs. Only the Dean of Academic Affairs has the authority to grant exceptions to the basic diploma and course load requirements.
Note 2: Course level designations follow the course numbers:
- AD - Advanced
- AP - Advanced Placement
- HO - Honors
Diplomas are granted only to those who have successfully fulfilled the graduation requirements and have completed their credits for senior year. While one-year seniors usually remain on campus for three terms, there are situations when it is appropriate for them to participate in a Study Abroad Program. One-year seniors are expected to fulfill all credit and course load requirements. As stated above, all sixth form students must receive passing term grades for all courses taken in the spring term to graduate.
Note: If a student withdraws from school to avoid being expelled, the student loses the privilege of receiving a diploma.
Certificate of Study
Postgraduate students, those holding diplomas from other secondary schools, are eligible for a Certificate of Study. The certificate states that they have completed an approved course of study at Choate Rosemary Hall. Such students are considered sixth formers and must meet all expectations of credits, course load, and program balance. This means their program of study must include three terms of English, unless exempted in the spring by the department, and one term of art.
Required: Three terms of arts (one in the third form, one in the fourth or fifth form, and one in the sixth form) from two areas: music, dance, theater or visual arts.
- A student receives one credit for these ensemble courses—Dance Ensemble, Festival Chorus, String Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and Wind Ensemble—if he or she takes the course all year. (One year = one credit.) A student in a Study Abroad Program who takes the course two of the three terms that year is granted the full credit.
- A student who participates in Chamber Chorus or in Symphony Orchestra receives one credit per term or three for the year.
- A student who participates in a Choate Study Abroad Program in France, Spain, Rome, or China earns one visual arts credit. A student who participates in the Choate Summer Program in France earns one visual arts credit.
- The Humanities interdisciplinary sequence Romanticism (ID416HO), Modernism (ID417HO), and Post-Modernism (ID418HO) earns no arts credit, but if a senior already has three arts credits, this year-long sequence exempts this student from the sixth form arts requirement.
- The interdisciplinary course, Seminar in Art History (ID625HO), earns one visual arts credit.
- A student must have permission from the Arts department head to take two or more full credit arts courses in a single term.
- A student who enters in the fifth form is exempted from taking arts classes from two areas. Arts Concentration students who enter the program in the fifth form have a similar exemption, though they are encouraged to take classes in two areas if their overall program permits.
Required: Four years of English (one course each term at Choate).
- A new fifth form international student for whom English is not the first language will sometimes be placed in Composition and Literature (EN200) for the fifth form year and a sixth form English course the following year.
- Sixth form spring exemption: Sixth form students (with the exception of those who have been away from campus for a term) maintaining an A- average in a regular section or a B+ in an honors section through the winter midterm of their sixth form year may apply for an exemption from English during their spring term if they have successfully completed 11 terms of English. This exemption must be approved by the current sixth form teacher, the department head, and the student’s college counselor and will be revoked if the winter term grade falls below an A- in a regular section or a B+ in an honors section.
- A student can be exempted from English once in his or her career: when he or she participates in a Study Abroad Program or if he or she qualifies for the sixth form spring exemption.
- A student recommended for honors English who has the permission of the teacher and English department head and who commits to taking all three courses in the Humanities interdisciplinary sequence—Romanticism (ID416HO), Modernism (ID417HO), and Post-Modernism (ID418HO)—may fulfill the three terms of the sixth form English requirement with this year-long sequence.
History, Philosophy, Religion and Social Sciences
Required: One year of World History, usually fulfilled in the fourth form year; one year of United States History, usually fulfilled in the fifth form year; one term of philosophy or religion.
- World History is open to the rare third former who is identified for placement in the course via self-nomination (expressed interest and documented passion in history), the recommendation of a previous history or social studies teacher, appropriate standardized test scores, and any other information gathered that would serve as an accurate indicator of both interest and potential success in the course.
- A fourth former who has completed World History may take United States History with permission of the department.
- A variety of religion courses fulfill the philosophy/religion requirement, including doctrinal courses taken in high school.
- A student who has taken a high school-level World History or United States History course in elementary or middle school has not fulfilled the graduation requirement, even if the course was taken at a high school. Instead, the student is granted placement into a more advanced course in that discipline to complete the requirement.
Required: Three years (through the 300 or 350 level) of Chinese, French, Latin or Spanish or completion of our Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Program. These are our diploma languages.
- If a new student's transcript reads "level 3" or its equivalent in a diploma language and the student requests to continue in that language, he or she must take the placement test. If, on the basis of that test, the student is placed into the second year level, only one year of the language graduation requirement has been fulfilled.
- If a new fifth or sixth form student’s transcript reads “level 3” or its equivalent in a diploma language and the student does not want to continue in that language, the graduation requirement is fulfilled. (Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis when the “level 3” language is not a diploma language.) Such an exemption is possible for a new third or fourth form student, depending on his or her overall academic program, with permission from the Dean of Academic Affairs.
- One-year seniors wishing to participate in a Study Abroad Program may petition to be absent from campus for one term.
- The language requirement is considered fulfilled for those new fifth and sixth form students who enter Choate Rosemary Hall with English as their second language if they have studied a language other than English at their previous high schools.
- A student must have permission from the Language department head to take two language courses at the 100 level concurrently.
Required: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II
- A new student’s graduation requirement in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II is fulfilled on the basis of the math placement, unless stated otherwise by the department head.
Required: One year of a laboratory course in physical science, either physics or chemistry; and one year of a laboratory course in biology, in this order. This sequence does not apply to students who have completed biology before entering Choate Rosemary Hall.
- The science department recommends that students take physics, chemistry, and biology courses in this order.
- A new student who took Earth Science or Physical Science at his or her previous school has not fulfilled any part of the graduation requirement in science.
- UK-type school systems (Canada, Europe, and Bermuda) usually follow an integrated science curriculum in which they study biology, chemistry, and physics each year. In these circumstances, the department head determines if the student should receive the physical science and/or biology credit.
- A student who has taken a high school-level science course in elementary or middle school has not fulfilled the graduation requirement, even if the course was taken at a high school. Instead, the student is granted placement into a more advanced course in that discipline to complete the requirement. For example, an 8th grade student is bussed to the high school for biology: Choate’s graduation requirement is not waived. That student must still take three terms of biology but he or she can now select from the advanced electives in biology to fulfill the requirement.
Required: 14 terms in secondary school of a Quantitative course, otherwise known as the Q credit.
- The quantitative requirement is inclusive of the mathematics requirement. Q credits are fulfilled by the following courses: all mathematics and computer science courses (identified by MA and CS prefixes); Microeconomics (EC550AP); and all physics and chemistry courses (identified by PH and CH prefixes) except Astronomy (PH320 and PH330), Chemistry of Food and Drugs (CH430HO), and Advanced Organic Chemistry (CH652HO). One Q credit is also earned in the year-long Ecology course (ES437HO) that is part of the Environmental Immersion Program at the Kohler Environmental Center.
- When calculating Q credits, a year-long two-semester course at a previous school will equal three Q credits, not two, since we have trimesters, not semesters.
- A student cannot receive Q credit twice for the same course.
- A student who drops a year-long course that would have earned three Q credits will still earn one Q credit for each term of the course that was completed. For example, a student who drops CH300 after completing the fall receives one course load credit, no chemistry credit, no physical science credit, and one Q credit.
- The Choate Summer Programs' Immersion Geometry course earns a student three Q credits, the Summer Programs’ Introduction to Algebra II and Special Topics in Algebra II earn a student one Q credit each.
- A new student who enters Choate and repeats 9th grade receives quantitative credit for courses taken in the 9th grade elsewhere.
Contemporary Global Studies
Required: One term of a course deemed to fulfill the requirement for three- and four-year students.
- Current courses that fulfill this requirement are Current Topics in Biology (BI410AD); International Economics (EC455HO); Development Economics (EC575HO); Arabic Literature: The Passion of Arabs (EN402); Reading Beyond the Headlines: Contemporary International Voices (EN435); Global Scientific Issues (ES220); Sustainable International Development: Food for Thought (ID403AD); French in a Global Context (FR404AD, FR405AD, or FR406AD); Contemporary Issues (HI205); The Modern Middle East (HI459HO); Women’s Studies in a Global Perspective (HI460HO); and Spain: Connections for the World (SPS47AD), a course offered as part of the Spain Study Abroad Program. In addition, the Environmental Immersion Program at the Kohler Environmental Center fulfills this requirement.
Additional Notes on Our Requirements
Note 1: No graduation requirement can be taken on a pass/fail basis.
Note 2: Usually, no more than two courses in any one department can be part of a normal course load; however, a student must have permission from the Arts department head to take two or more full credit arts courses in a single term.
Note 3: A graduation requirement is considered fulfilled – rather than actual credit awarded – for students who have taken courses while attending another secondary school when an official transcript has been received. A student may not repeat a course for which the diploma requirement has been deemed fulfilled unless, as sometimes happens with new students in mathematics and language study, the student must "repeat" the course level to gain a stronger foundation in the course as evidenced by his or her performance on the placement test.
Note 4: Students who fail a term course that is a graduation requirement must repeat that course or an equivalent course. Students who fail one term of a multi-term or year-long course that is a graduation requirement but who nevertheless pass the course have fulfilled the graduation requirement.
Note 5: On rare occasions a student may propose accelerating his or her studies in a particular discipline by doing summer work. There are specific policies, procedures and permissions governing such requests, but, in general, year-long graduation requirements cannot be completed over the course of a summer. A student should begin a discussion about acceleration with the department head as much in advance as possible of the proposed work.
Note 6: We require all fourth form students to enroll in our two-term Sophomore Seminar. The seminar is designed to educate and facilitate discussion as students transition from adolescence to young adulthood. The course has pass/fail status and meets one period per week.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth Form Athletic Requirements
Students must take three terms of athletics or two terms of athletics and one term of an alternate activity. Alternate activity options for third, fourth and fifth formers follow:
- an approved project* (winter or spring)
- faculty-directed theatrical production
- an approved project*
- Community Service
- Debate Team (fall term; for returning fourth formers only who are active competitors on the team)
- faculty-directed theatrical production
- an approved project*
- Community Service
- Debate Team (fall term; for returning fifth formers only who are active competitors on the team)
- faculty-directed theatrical production
- a sixth course
Sixth Form Athletic Requirement
Students must be enrolled in an afternoon activity each term, at least one of which must be athletics. Alternate activities for sixth formers are:
- an approved internship
- an approved project*
- a Senior Project (approved by the Dean of Academic Affairs)
- Community Service
- faculty-directed theatrical production
- a sixth course
Note 1: An approved project* (For example, preparation for a solo recital or participation in a sport not offered at Choate, such as horseback riding or figure skating, requires a commitment of at least five hours per week, including weekly contact with the project adviser. Applications are available in the Athletics Office. All projects must have the approval of the student’s form dean and the Registrar, who will consult with the Athletics Department.)
Note 2: Students who are cast in the spring musical receive an athletic credit.
Community Service: HOPE Requirement
(Helping Other People Everywhere)
The graduation requirement, which begins once a student has matriculated at Choate, is defined as:
- entering third or fourth formers: 30 hours total;
- entering fifth formers: 20 hours total; and
- entering sixth formers or post-graduates: no requirement.
This requirement may be fulfilled in the following ways:
- participation in a long-term, documented community service activity (Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Teach Wallingford, or leadership of student organizations in service);
- combined hours of service from after-school and weekend events sponsored by Choate Rosemary Hall (Blood Drives, Hands for Cans, Adaptive Swim and Skate Programs, Salvation Army Bell-Ringing, hosting Curtis Home children, Habitat for Humanity days);
- participation in volunteer activities beyond Choate Rosemary Hall (volunteering within one's community or elsewhere during school vacations); or
- participation in a student-designed personal program.
All projects and credit are approved by the Director of Community Service and must have the proper supporting documentation.
Choate operates on a trimester system. Courses are granted credit as follows:
- one-term courses receive one course credit;
- two-term courses receive two course credits; and
- three-term courses receive three course credits.
To earn a diploma, a four-year student must have a total of 60 course credits (or 60 terms-worth of trimester-length courses), without ever falling below a total of 58 course credits. Three-, two- and one-year students are to have equivalent course loads. Only the Dean of Academic Affairs can approve those special cases of students with 58 or 59 course credits.
Note: Three-term ensemble courses and Debate (ID410) do not count towards this course credit count; they receive one course credit upon completion of all three terms. Grades for these courses are not included in a student’s GPA.
Students are expected to carry 15 course credits a year or five courses each term. Any student who wishes to drop below five courses in a term must obtain permission from the Dean of Academic Affairs (DOAA). A form dean must also have approval from the DOAA when a student initiates such a request through the Deans’ Office. If a student should take only four course credits one term, the student would be expected to carry six course credits another term. Additionally, if a student drops down to four courses during a term, the student will automatically be placed on Academic Warning.
A student short of credits could take a pre-approved course during the summer to make up the missing course credit. However, a summer school course would not appear on the student’s transcript and the grade would not be factored into the student’s GPA. The College Counseling Office, however, will recognize in the student’s college admission materials that the student did participate in summer academic coursework.
With permission from his or her form dean, a student may carry six courses one or more terms, with these exceptions: the Dean of Academic Affairs must also approve the programs of all new students who request six courses in the fall term and sixth formers who request six courses in the spring.
Fifth and sixth form students may audit a course that is over and above the normal course load with the approval of the teacher, form dean, adviser, department head, college counselor (if applicable), and Dean of Academic Affairs. The student must audit all terms of the course, attend all classes, participate actively in class discussions, and complete all homework assignments. The student has all the responsibilities of a regular student except for tests, papers, and final examinations. Although the course appears on the student’s transcript, credit is not awarded for the course and no report is written. The deadline for applying for the audit option is the end of the first week of classes in a term course and no later than one week after the first midterm in a two-term or year-long course.
Auditing a course for no credit has limited advantage to the vast majority of our students, so we want to give such a request very serious thought before encouraging it. A student who is thinking about auditing a course should consider the pass/fail option before making a final decision.
Changing, Adding, and Dropping Classes
Students who wish to change, add, or drop a class should first see their form dean as there are very specific policies that govern these procedures, which vary depending on the term and on whether the course is a one-term, two-term, or year-long course. The procedures include: when/if such modifications to a student’s program can happen, who must approve them, what is recorded on the transcript, what credit is awarded (if any), and who is notified. Often the Dean of Academic Affairs or Registrar will be consulted by the form dean in these matters.
If a student were to drop down to four courses during a term, that student is automatically placed on Academic Warning.
Note: The procedures that govern the changing, adding and dropping of classes are in the Student Handbook.
Grades, Reports, and Examinations
Grades are given on an A through F scale with (+) and (-) indicators. D- is the lowest passing grade. Grades and term reports written by teachers, advisers, and coaches are shared with families three times a year, with a report from the form dean at least once a year. These final grades and reports are accessible via the Parents Portal page of our web site at specific points in the academic cycle. Midterm grades are available there as well shortly after their posting. Letters from the deans for students on Academic Warning are sent home at midterm.
Note: Criteria for placement on Deans’ List and Academic Warning are included in the Student Handbook.
Term examinations are given three times a year. Except in the case of conflict with other examinations, students are expected to take their examinations at the regularly scheduled times and may not leave campus until their last examination is over.
Fourth, fifth, and sixth form students in good academic standing may, with the approval of the teacher, department head, form dean (in consultation with the adviser), college counselor, and Dean of Academic Affairs (DOAA), take a course on a pass/fail basis. A student taking a course pass/fail assumes all the normal responsibilities of a class (attendance, assignments, testing) but receives a grade of either pass (P) or fail (F). Taking a course pass/fail is based on the following criteria:
- No graduation requirement may be taken on a P/F basis; however, a course which counts towards fulfilling the quantitative requirement may be taken P/F.
- A student may take no more than one P/F course per term.
- A student taking a fifth course on a P/F basis is ineligible for Deans’ List; a student taking a sixth course on a P/F basis is eligible for Deans’ List.
- The deadline for applying for P/F is no later than one week after the midterm for a term course and no later than one week after the first midterm in a two-term or year-long course.
- A student who has a course designated P/F before the midterm may change the designation of that course back to non-P/F status up until the last meeting of the class in question in the first term of the course. To do this the form dean sends an email to everyone involved in the original decision stating that the student wishes to revert from P/F status to full grade status.
The pass/fail option is intended to encourage students to broaden their intellectual horizons into areas in which they lack either experience or confidence by assuring them that if their aptitude and achievement should be less than their proficiency, their academic record would not be jeopardized. A change to P/F status is not intended nor should a student interpret it as approval to work less diligently in any class. A student considering P/F should understand that a P on a transcript is rarely optimal when it is one of five courses; thus, for a student to take a fifth class P/F, it truly needs to be a special case.
Discussion of changing to P/F status begins with the form dean who discusses with the student the intent of the policy as well as the student’s reasons for considering changing status to P/F in a given course. If the dean determines this is a legitimate request, he or she contacts via email the teacher of the course in which P/F is being considered, the department head, the adviser, the college counselor (if applicable) and the DOAA explaining the reason for the request and asking for input from all. (The form dean communicates appropriately with the parents about this matter and shares their thinking as well.) The DOAA makes a decision when all pertinent information has been collected and reviewed, and the dean informs the student of that decision. The student making the request must understand that this process can take some time.
For a sixth form student who has not indicated P/F status on the Secondary School Report: After the DOAA approves the change in status to P/F, it is the student's responsibility to share this information with the appropriate colleges. The student making the request should be aware of the fact that occasionally a college that has accepted a student does not support the change in status to P/F. Any exception to this policy must be approved by the Dean of Academic Affairs.