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Off-Campus Learning

Upper School students have many opportunities to pursue their interests beyond the regular curriculum, with a wide range of programs and exchanges available both during the academic year and over the summer. Some class trips are related to the curriculum, while others are designed to expand students’ experience of community. Many Upper School students enroll in expanded programs and advanced classes held after school elsewhere in the city or join a community service project; they may also apply to participate in a school exchange or to spend a summer, a semester or a full year in a program of study, travel and/or service. Any of these activities in the wider world off-campus can allow students to stretch their academic and creative capabilities as well as hone their skills in communication as a representative of the school.

Summer Programs

Through the Dean of Students Office, students can learn about a variety of summer programs in the US and abroad. Students will have the opportunity to apply for the following two scholarships for independent summer travel and study: 

• The MacDonald Scholarship for Study and Travel in England

• The Kathryn Schaefler Pershan ’49 Scholarship for Study and Travel

Class Trips in New York State

Special trips in the Upper School are designed to extend classroom learning through exploration of the world outside Brearley and through working cooperatively as a group. At the beginning of the school year, Class XII travels to an outdoor campground in the tristate area for canoeing and hiking. In late January, Class X joins the other Interschool schools for an overnight trip to Frost Valley, NY, where they participate in outdoor activities and work in groups to solve simulated social problems. The Science, History, Modern Languages and Drama Departments also take students on trips that are directly related to their courses in biology (IX), history (IX and X), Spanish, French, Mandarin and classics (IX-XII), and drama (IX and X).

Curriculum-Related Overnight Trips

Class IX Washington, DC, Trip

In order to enrich the Class IX curriculum of world history, the IXs visit the Holocaust Museum for one day of this required trip. That museum visit is supplemented with a visit to another museum of choice the following day, as well as the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The history teachers prepare activities to engage students at each of these sites and debrief with them afterward to further enhance the learning experience for them.

Class X Washington, DC, Trip

Our three-day visit to the nation’s capital acquaints students with the practical workings of the government and encourages them to think of public service as a profession. We meet with officials who work in or interact with the US government to hear (and see) firsthand how the government works. Typically, our trips have included visits to a US Supreme Court justice’s chambers, seats in the Senate Gallery during a live hearing or congressional debate, any number of talks with the ambassadors to foreign embassies worldwide, and an audience with the attorney general of the United States, among others.


Through the Interschool consortium, Upper School students may participate in a variety of programs and activities with seven other Manhattan schools: Browning, Chapin, Collegiate, Dalton, Nightingale-Bamford, Spence and Trinity.

Columbia Science Honors Program
Through this program, sophomores, juniors and seniors may take advanced science classes at Columbia University on Saturday mornings. (Students take a qualifying examination; the number of places available is limited.)

Gilder-Lehrman Institute Saturday Academy
This program offers courses in US history. (Students must take a qualifying examination.)

Barnard S3 Saturday Science Seminar
Juniors may attend a series of six Saturday seminars on various scientific topics. (Students are admitted by recommendation of the Science Department; the number of places available is limited.)

Travel Study

Each year, Brearley offers students a selection of trips as a part of the Travel Study Program. These experiences are designed to present students with an opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and engage with a new culture, foster learning that enhances and transcends the classroom, achieve cross-cultural dialogue and foster a habit of reflection.

Students should expect to prepare for the trips by participating in a series of orientation sessions with their chaperones prior to departure. The trips typically include study, language and cultural immersion, observation, and/or service. All trips must meet a minimum enrollment in order to run and most of them take a group of eight to ten students, selected through an application process. The selection of trips offered varies from year to year, most of them rotating on an alternate year schedule. The school has a generous, but limited, pool of financial assistance for these trips. In the recent past students have traveled to such destinations as:

• India

• France (for French students)

• National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) trip

• Peru (for Spanish students)

• Roman Italy (for Latin Students)

• Taiwan (for Mandarin students)

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