I am trying to find out more about high schools that specialize in a particular area or at least allow a student to focus on a main subject overall. In tertiary education this specialization is known as an academic major, but I'm having trouble finding an equivalent term used in secondary education. I've come across "area of study" and "discipline" but neither of these appear to be used consistently across institutions.

In the US there are Magnet Schools which appear to do the above, and similarly in UK and Russia there are/were Specialist Schools and Specialized Schools respectively that seem to cater for a particular subject area. None of these though use consistent terminology as far as I could see. I myself am more familiar with the core and elective structure which doesn't allow for focusing on a specific area of study.

Is there a particular term for this or a more commonly accepted way to refer to it?

  • 1
    It would help to know why you're interested in such a term -- to help with a job search at such a school, to refer to such schools/majors in a paper/book you're writing, ...? Depending on the reason, a list of NCSSS schools might be what you want for the U.S. Jul 17 at 6:54
  • Research for a fiction piece which features such a high school, does that help?
    – FrontEnd
    Jul 17 at 7:21
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    The UK 'specialist schools' initiative wasn't really about providing a subject-targeted education program, but rather about investing in facilities & staff development. Most of the students at these schools will be there because it is their local school, not because of the 'special' status. However in the UK education system students have always studied only 3-4 subjects beyond the age of 16, which kind of acts as a 'major' in the sense of this question (e.g. one might choose math/physics/chemistry, english/history/french etc).
    – avid
    Jul 17 at 8:31
  • The UK does have (private) special schools for music, e.g. Wells or Chethams, and for ballet. No doubt there are other examples. I think the common thread is that these are all focussed on skills that require early physical development.
    – avid
    Jul 17 at 8:37
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    This seems to be outside the scope of this site - we deal with universities only.
    – Arno
    Jul 17 at 9:06

The specialized New York City high school that my kids went to has majors. This web page https://www.bths.edu/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=222176&type=d outlines how majors work at this particular high school. Other high schools are likely to be different.

They list 19 majors on their web site. The school offers many really nice elective courses, which usually are only available to students in an elligible major.

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