Harvard-Westlake’s curriculum is built around a core of requirements in English, mathematics, history, science, foreign languages and the arts. It is supplemented by a smorgasbord of courses in a wide range of subjects at different levels of difficulty, including a strong Advanced Placement program across the curriculum. As students progress through the school, more options become available to them.
English is required every year. An honors track becomes available in the eleventh and twelfth grades. Elective courses are offered in creative writing and Shakespeare.
Mathematics is required in the seventh through eleventh grade and is recommended in the twelfth grade. In every grade, a wide range of programs caters to students’ different ability levels. All levels give students the option to take AP courses in their senior year or earlier, including courses in computer science and economics.
History is required in the seventh through eleventh grades and is optional in the twelfth grade. All students take the same courses together through the tenth grade. More than a dozen different history, social studies and interdisciplinary studies and independent research courses are available for junior and seniors.
Science is required in the seventh through tenth grades, and students must take at least one other laboratory-based course in the eleventh or twelfth grade. Juniors and seniors can choose between 18 different courses in integrated science, biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space sciences.
Foreign Language is required in the seventh through tenth grades, and available through the twelfth grade. Spanish, French, Chinese and Latin are offered at many levels of difficulty. All students should complete one language through at least level three, or two languages through at least level two.
Visual and Performing Arts are required for a total of two and a half years. In the middle school, students must take a semester of each, plus an additional semester of either. In the upper school, students must take a year of either visual arts or performing arts. Students are encouraged to go beyond the minimum requirements through a wide range of courses in music, dance, theater, film, drawing and painting, sculpture, animation, photography and video.
Physical Education is required in the seventh and eighth grades, and for six trimesters in the ninth through twelfth grades. Students are encouraged to take more than the minimum requirement. After the eighth grade, dance programs and interscholastic sports can fulfill PE requirements.
Other required courses extend the curriculum to include age-appropriate skills and knowledge. In the seventh grade, students take Library and Technology; in the eighth grade they take Human Development and either Public Speaking or Debate. In the tenth grade students take a year of Choices and Challenges. Community service is required of all students every year.