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A Guide to NYC’s Specialized High Schools

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Students in New York City have many options when it comes to where they can attend high school. Those who are academically or artistically talented may want to consider NYC’s specialized high schools. The city’s nine magnet schools are open to current residents of any of New York’s five boroughs, including students who are English Language Learners and those with an IEP or 504 plan.


Here’s a complete overview of NYC’s magnet schools and how to get into them.


Overview of NYC’s Specialized High Schools





Bronx High School of Science

Bedford Park


Brooklyn Latin School



Brooklyn Technical High School

Fort Greene


High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College of New York



High School of American Studies at Lehman College

Bedford Park


Laguardia High School

Lincoln Square


Queens High School for the Sciences at York College



Staten Island Technical High School

New Dorp


Stuyvesant High School

Lower Manhattan



1. Bronx High School of Science

Neighborhood: Bedford Park

Enrollment: 2,997

Specialty: Science/math


Bronx Science, as the famed high school is known, boasts graduates who include Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, Nobel Laureates, and other renowned leaders in fields including government, education, medicine, and business. The school offers far more than science, with exemplary teachers in a wide range of subjects.


2. Brooklyn Latin School

Neighborhood: Bushwick/Williamsburg

Enrollment: 681

Specialty: Humanities/classics


New York’s newest specialized high school, Brooklyn Latin is also unique for its emphasis on humanities and the classics, rather than STEM subjects or performing arts. Brooklyn was modeled after Boston Latin, with a curricular focus on English, History, Latin, and foreign languages.


3. Brooklyn Technical High School

Neighborhood: Fort Greene

Enrollment: 5,837

Specialty: STEM


Brooklyn Tech boasts cutting-edge facilities including labs, computer rooms, and more, designed to educate students in a wide array of STEM topics. A central feature of the program is the major, which students declare in their junior year. Examples include aerospace, chemistry, industrial design, media, mechatronics & robotics, and software engineering, among others.


4. High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College of New York

Neighborhood: Manhattanville

Enrollment: 500

Specialty: STEM


This school was founded as a joint initiative of New York City Schools’ Chancellor Harold O. Levy, and Dr. Mathew Goldstein, the Chancellor of The City University of New York. HSMSE is a STEM-focused high school that offers a comprehensive curriculum to talented students. Starting in their junior year, students may choose from three concentrations: Higher Mathematics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Biomedical Research Program, or Advanced Engineering.


5. High School of American Studies at Lehman College

Neighborhood: Bedford Park

Enrollment: 399

Specialty: American history/politics


Another school situated on a CUNY campus, HSAS offers a curriculum focused on United States history and politics, although students complete a curriculum that includes courses in subjects like English, the arts, mathematics, foreign languages, health, and physical education. Once they reach their junior or senior year, students may be eligible to take courses at Lehman College and get a taste of real college coursework.


6. Laguardia High School

Neighborhood: Lincoln Square

Enrollment: 2,819

Specialty: Arts


Laguardia is the only specialized NYC high school in the arts, as well as the first public high school in the country to be dedicated to the arts. Students complete academic courses while majoring in a “studio,” such as art, dance, drama, instrumental music, technical theater, and vocal music. Because of its unique focus, it has an admissions process that differs from New York’s other specialized schools (see below for more information).

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7. Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

Neighborhood: Jamaica

Enrollment: 475

Specialty: Science/math


With a mission “to nurture and develop a community of learners that possess strong character and contribute to society,” QHSSYC provides a challenging curriculum that emphasizes science and math. A collaboration between York College/CUNY, the school offers AP and honors courses in English Literature, US History, and others, along with its STEM curriculum.


8. Staten Island Technical High School

Neighborhood: New Dorp

Enrollment: 1,332

Specialty: STEM


STHS has a liberal arts curriculum that spans science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), along with additional courses. In an effort to equip students with career-readiness skills, the school has a Pre-Engineering Career & Technical Education (CTE) program, along with additional initiatives and programs. Students also have the option of participating in the school’s Science & Engineering Research Program.


9. Stuyvesant High School

Neighborhood: Lower Manhattan

Enrollment: 3,335

Specialty: STEM


Stuyvesant is well-known for its rigorous STEM program, which includes courses in science research, genetics, engineering, existentialism, multivariate calculus, organic chemistry, and many other topics. It also offers plenty of top courses in humanities and social sciences topics. Like its peers, the school is home to many extracurricular opportunities like Science Olympiad, Model UN, musical ensembles, and the Stuyvesant Theater Community.


How to Get Into NYC’s Magnet Schools




The Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT) is the only admission criterion used for all of the schools on this list aside from Laguardia. Eighth-grade and first-time ninth-grade students should register for the exam by January 15, 2021. As part of your registration, you’ll rank your schools in order of preference.


In 2021, testing begins on January 27. (Note that the full timeline for this year’s SHSAT hasn’t yet been released.) After the tests have been scored, you’ll receive offers based on your preferences, scores, and the number of seats each school has. Students with higher scores are more likely to receive offers from their first-choice schools, because each school will determine a qualifying score based on the results and number of candidates who rank them highly.




Laguardia has a separate admissions process. Instead of taking the SHSAT, students audition for one or more of the school’s six studios outlined above. In 2021, students must register to audition virtually by February 22. (Learn more about the audition process.)


Will Going to a Specialized High School Help My College Chances?


Snagging a spot at one of NYC’s magnet schools is highly-coveted; these schools provide top-notch teachers and educational resources. Students who maximize these resources and thrive in challenging classes, all while developing strong extracurriculars, will certainly be strong candidates for top colleges. In fact, these schools are “feeders” into Ivies and other prestigious colleges.


Keep in mind, however, that colleges evaluate students in the context of their high school. It’s not the end of the world if you’re not accepted to a specialized high school. If you maximize the resources you do have, that’s all that colleges can ask.


Whether or not you attend a specialized high school, the college process starts as soon as you begin ninth grade. Check out our ninth grade guide to learn more about planning for college and what you can do to maximize your chances.

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.