Curriculum Overview

At Bay we build in the time for optimal teaching and learning.


5-1-5-1: The Academic Schedule

We are continually seeking ways to increase opportunities for experiential, project-based, and multidisciplinary learning, while maintaining our strengths in the acquisition of foundational skills and healthy school-life balance for students.  

Our academic year runs on a “5-1-5-1” model. During semesters, students take five classes. The courses are taught in 75-minute and 90-minute blocks, giving ample time for discussion, discovery, and collaborative work. During Immersive terms, students take one class for three weeks. Immersives are required, for-credit courses that have allowed us to fully realize our aim of offering a true experiential education.

Learn more about Immersives.

The schedule also makes time for Morning Meeting, advisory, affinity groups and clubs, tutorials, and blocks of flexible time—aka “flex.” Younger students have co-curricular classes during one flex block per week (9th Grade Seminar and 10th Grade Choices in Relationships) and monitored study hall during the other two flex periods. Upper-grade students may choose how to use their flex periods. College counseling is taught as a class during one flex block in spring of junior year and fall of senior year.

Explore Our Curriculum

View our course catalog to see what's offered this year and click the tiles below to learn more about each subject area. Our faculty members are passionate not only about their subject but also about the craft of teaching and contributing to the Bay community. 

Bay takes a mindful approach to homework. Research shows little evidence that the amount of homework assigned equates to the amount learned. Research does suggest, however, that too much homework has negative effects: not enough sleep, reduced retention levels, avoidance behaviors, and an experience of learning as a burden. That's why Bay's rotating block schedule and academic calendar are specifically designed to ensure students spend more time and accomplish more work in the classroom. 

Homework is a part of our coursework, but we have carefully established and monitored guidelines for the amount of homework that can be assigned. Ninth grade students may expect 1.5 hours of homework across each week in most courses and 2 hours per week for their humanities course. Older students are typically assigned 2 hours of homework across each week in most courses, and 2.5 hours per week for courses that carry a humanities designation. Honors courses require more homework: 1 hour per class meeting, for a total of 3 hours per week for most courses.

The Bay School offers a distinct kind of challenge in its honors courses. These classes are expressions of our depth-over-breadth approach: They are rigorous, cultivate skills of synthesis and analysis, demand authentic inquiry, and emphasize examination of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. Under the guidance of expert faculty members, students design complex, sophisticated capstone projects that reflect their particular interest in the subject matter, whether that's zoology or moral philosophy. 

Colleges and universities across the nation, including the University California, recognize that Bay's upper-division electives and honors courses present challenging, college-level material and that students who take them engage in higher-order thinking and problem-solving. Many schools give them the same weight as AP courses.

Bay does not offer Advanced Placement courses. The prescribed curricula of AP courses (which are designed by the College Board) limits the depth of exploration and creative inquiry central to the best learning, a core tenet of our educational philosophy. If they so desire, Bay students can independently prepare for and arrange to take AP exams outside of their normal coursework.