Curriculum Overview

When you know how to think, you can approach any problem.


Bay’s curriculum and course offerings reflect our commitment to depth over breadth and the value we place on both content and skill mastery. The coursework begins from a skills- and inquiry-based approach in the 9th and 10th grades, creating the foundation for continued deep learning. In 11th and 12th grades, the work becomes increasingly more rigorous, and our graduation requirements allow students to exceed admission requirements for the University of California and all other colleges and universities they may consider.

The 2024–2025 course catalog has landed! We have so many exciting new classes for next year, with expanded offerings in every subject area. A few highlights:

  • Quantum Mechanics (honors, science)
  • Earthquakes and Volcanoes (science)
  • Linear Algebra (honors, math)
  • Middle Eastern Studies (social studies)
  • Cybersecurity (interdisciplinary computer science and social studies) 
  • The Genesis of Modern Art (social studies/art history)

Honors Courses

Available to 11th and 12th graders, honors courses allow students who are academically ready for college-level work to pursue particular areas of interest. These classes require students to engage in high-level reasoning, research, analysis, and extensive writing or, in the visual arts, documentation of their work. To take honors courses, students need approval from teachers. Honors courses earn their designation from the University of California’s course review process.

In the 2023–2024 school year, we have 19 honors courses across all disciplines.

Advanced Drama

Advanced Drawing and Painting

Advanced Projects in Digital Arts

Essay and Memoir

Gothic Literature

Russian Literature


Group Theory


Comparative Philosophy

Biology 2

Chemistry 2

Physics 2

U.S. Foreign Policy

Mandarin 5

Advanced Topics in Mandarin

Advanced Topics in Spanish

Spanish for Spanish Speakers 3

Bay Requirements

The Bay School’s course content and teaching philosophy lead our students to attain meaningful engagement with ideas, and several of our required courses are intentionally designed to develop them as ethical thinkers and creative problem-solvers: 

  • All 9th graders take Creative Process, in which they learn how to generate ideas and iterate solutions through research, feedback, and prototyping. They experience the value of failure and learn how to think their way out of problems. This course is the start of a four-year project-oriented learning arc.
  • All 10th graders take Civics, helping them to recognize their agency and responsibility as members of society.
  • Every Bay student must take a religion or philosophy course to graduate.
  • Seniors design and complete their Senior Project over two semesters. This course is the culmination of the project arc begun in Creative Process. From proposal to final product, students apply the problem-solving and project-management skills they’ve developed over their time at Bay.


Teaching and Learning 

The Bay classroom experience is marked by two features: an approach to learning that builds on itself and a focus on transferable skills—abilities that apply regardless of subject matter or context, which are described below. Bay’s academic structure supports this unique approach. The school year is divided into four terms: fall semester, winter Immersive, spring semester, and spring Immersive. During semester terms, students take five classes and participate in Activities (our version of PE); during Immersive terms, students take one intensive class for three weeks.

Our students constantly apply their learning. In a semester-term literature class, this might look like a panel discussion in which audience members select topics and the students address relevant themes within the works they’ve studied. Conceptual Physics, required for all 9th graders, begins with first-person experimentation in collaborative lab work. From this direct experience, they learn to describe their observations, collect empirical data, and make predictions. Finally, they will learn to convert what they’ve seen into algebraic formulas and learn the scientific vocabulary to describe it. 

During Immersive terms students dig more deeply into iterative learning and the practice of transferable skills. The single-subject focus for three weeks and full-day class blocks allow for multifaceted teaching and learning. Our project-driven approach is seen during the culminating exhibition, during which each class publicly presents their final projects to the community. These projects range from short films to presentations of scientific findings to an adaptation of a Shakespeare play. 

Transferable Skills

Right away, we begin to build and reinforce the essentials for effective learning: organization and time management, asking for help, communicating, and participating fully in class. Through October conferences and 9th Grade Seminar, our first-year students also begin gaining skills in metacognition, understanding one’s own learning.

The skills of creating careful and informed arguments; clear and accurate graphics; and compelling, logical written work and media are consistently taught and reinforced throughout all disciplines. 

Bay teachers in every discipline carefully lay paths for students to work effectively together, build mutual understanding, own their roles in group work, seek diverse perspectives, and listen and respond with respect.

Students learn to interpret and evaluate information, reflecting on and refining their reasoning as they gather multiple points of view from multiple sources. This skill also builds their ability to create ethical frameworks and engage in productive, fair-minded debate. 

Our students are not only allowed to go out on a limb to solve a problem, they are encouraged to do so. In the process, they learn to build on existing ideas and generate new ones. 

Ownership of learning is more than taking responsibility for completing tasks; it ultimately means that a student is motivated by curiosity and the desire for understanding. These qualities are self-perpetuating and drive deep learning.