Baltimore city public schools and private institutions are known for providing some of the best educational opportunities for grade school students in the country. From all-girls and all-boys college preparatory academies to coeducational magnet programs and art schools, there are plenty of institutions available to fit the unique needs of the city’s students. Many programs even allow enrollees to earn college credits, certifications and even Associate degrees before graduation.
Some of the top Baltimore County schools require tuition for enrollment, many others are based on academic merit or lottery systems. For example, the city’s School Choice program allows students to select the schools the middle and high schools they are most interested in, and submit applications. Even with more Baltimore school closings reported each year due to inclement weather, students can still receive a comprehensive and well-rounded education at facilities like the ones on the following list.
Western High School
This is considered one of the leading college preparatory Baltimore public schools for girls, providing an advanced liberal arts curriculum for grades nine through 12. Ranking number 48 on the U.S. News list of Best Maryland High Schools in 2018, this school boasts a high graduation rate, as well as a college enrollment rate of 97.3 percent for its alumnae.
While enrolled, students at Western High School in Baltimore can participate in one of three educational tracks to prepare for university, including the Teacher Academy, college preparatory and accelerated college preparatory programs. In fact, the accelerated program works in partnership with Goucher College, which is considered one of the top colleges in the area.
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School for Health Professionals
Dunbar High School is a public school that is part of the city’s School Choice Program. As such, students must submit an application and fulfill certain entrance criteria in order to enroll. Those who are accepted gain access to specialized programs that can prepare them for college, and even help them begin to earn their degrees.
For example, Dunbar High School in Baltimore offers programs like Project Lead the Way and Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH). P-TECH at Dunbar is a six-year program partnered with local universities that allows students to earn a diploma and an Associate degree at no cost, all while exploring careers in health sciences. This school reports a graduation rate around 92 percent and recently ranked in the top 10 percent in Maryland based on overall test scores.
One of the few Baltimore schools open to boys only, Gilman is another college preparatory institute for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Small class sizes allow students to get individual attention as they progress. In addition, the school shares educational resources with nearby girls’ schools to ensure that each student can choose from a variety of electives.
As one of the best private schools in Baltimore, Gilman requires students to submit an application and pay tuition for kindergarten and first grade, as well as the lower, middle and upper grades. Financial aid is available and awarded to between 22.5 and 32.6 percent of students in each level of the program.
Bard High School Early College
Among the top alternative Baltimore city high schools, Bard is a public school that offers enrollees the chance to earn college credits along with their diplomas. After completing preparatory classes in grades nine and 10, students are able to participate in a free two-year liberal arts course with Bard College. Through this program, it is possible to graduate with a high school diploma, an Associate degree and up to 60 college credits that are completely transferrable. Students are taught by college-level professors, who provide challenging coursework and a supportive intellectual community.
Towson High School
Towson High is on the list of top magnet high schools in Baltimore County, offering the Towson High Law and Public Policy program for grades nine through 12. According to U.S. News, this school earned a ranking of 14 among the best Maryland high schools during 2017, and a ranking of 85 among magnet schools.
In 2018, this Baltimore school jumped up to a ranking of 9 and 81 in these respective categories, and even earned a gold medal. Reporting a graduation rate of over 95 percent, Towson allows students to develop a knowledge and appreciation regarding citizenship and the legal system to prepare for degrees and careers in this field.
Baltimore School for the Arts
Not only is this high school ranked number 21 among the greater baltimore city public schools and 28 in Maryland overall, it is also considered among the country’s top five high schools for the performing arts. Students between grades nine and 12 enroll here in order to participate in a variety of classes, from dance and music to film and stage design while earning their diplomas.
BSA also maintains partnerships in the community with museums, orchestras and other local organizations. As a result of these opportunities, the school reports a graduation rate of almost 100 percent. Even younger children can gain valuable experience through BSA, by participating in the school’s afterschool and weekend arts programs for grades two through eight. Though it is one of the Baltimore County public schools, students are required to audition in order to enroll.
Roland Park Country School
Another independent all-girls Baltimore city school, Roland Park serves girls in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Especially small class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios ensure that all enrollees receive instruction that fits their learning style. In addition, students have access to as many as 50 clubs and organizations, as well as over a dozen sports.
Foreign language, art and theater classes are also available, in order to provide a well-rounded education. Overall, Roland Park is ranked with the top 20 percent of best private schools in Maryland, for categories like lowest tuition, most sports and AP courses offered and largest student body.
Friends School of Baltimore
Another top Baltimore private school, Friends School is a private Quaker institution for pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Like Roland Park, this school is ranked in the top 20 percent for most sports offered, largest student body and also has one of the oldest founding dates. However, it is a coeducational school, serving both boys and girls in the local community. Maintaining an educational program that aligns with the Religious Society of Friends and its practices, Friends School offers an inclusive and supportive environment where students can prepare for college.
Digitial Harbor High School
This Baltimore County magnet high school is another option in the School Choice program, meaning students must submit an application and participate in a lottery to gain enrollment. Like similar programs, Digital Harbor allows students to take college credit courses to prepare for degrees and careers in technology. However, this program also provides opportunities to earn industry-level certifications, as well. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), arts and media, and human resource courses are also offered in addition to technology courses.