MacDuffie’s curriculum spans seven academic departments: Arts, English, Physical and Health Education, History, Mathematics, Science, and World Languages. An ELL program is available to assist non-native speakers with English proficiency.

In order to receive a MacDuffie diploma, students must accumulate the following fifteen (15) core credits while enrolled in the Upper School:

• English 4 credits (excluding electives)
• Mathematics 3 credits (Algebra 1 or higher)
• World Language 2 credits (taken in the same language for consecutive years)
• Science 2 credits (two lab sciences)
• History 2 credits (excluding electives; including U.S. History)
• Art 2 credits (either visual or performing arts)

We encourage students to go beyond the minimum requirements for graduation – indeed, nearly all students do. Such explorations help our students expand the skills they need to analyze problems logically and creatively, to develop appropriate problem-solving strategies, and to apply those strategies confidently and effectively—whether in academics, the arts, or athletics. The School’s integrated and interdisciplinary approach to learning helps students comprehend the broad connections among subjects, at the same time they are learning discrete information in each academic discipline.


The MacDuffie Arts Department offers courses in dance, music, theater, and visual arts, each with the aim of facilitating self-expression, building confidence, and enhancing the student’s life. We offer courses in dance, music, theater, and visual arts.

The Middle School Arts Program reinforces the integrated Middle School Curriculum. Students not only use the skills developed in the other classes, but they also learn to appreciate the relationships between visual and performing arts.

Students in the Upper School are required to take a minimum of two years (2 credits) of art for graduation. The art credit (s) may be in visual or performing arts or a combination of the two.

Please visit the Arts section of the website for an in-depth description of our philosophy and course offerings as well as links to our performing arts photo galleries.


The English program incorporates an appreciation for all literary genres and a working knowledge and appreciation of literary devices, vocabulary, and grammar.

Works that have influenced the Western literary tradition are prominent; the program also offers consistent examination of ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural diversity in both Western and non-Western texts.

Common to all grade levels is a specific approach to the study of literature that fosters careful analysis and artfully substantiated interpretation in both written and oral discussion.  Skills that focus on critical and creative thinking, study and test-taking, the successful communication of ideas, the efficient use of literary resources, and effective public speaking both enable a student to achieve success in the study of literature and language and facilitate learning over a lifetime.

In order to earn the MacDuffie diploma, students must successfully complete the study of English in each of their Upper School years.


The History curriculum is designed to help students to reach three goals.

First, students become familiar with history as a discipline. Students learn to support historical generalizations of their own making through the use of a variety of sources, from print to electronic and from photographs to interviews.

Second, students are encouraged to develop an appreciation for the variety of human experience. Their studies enable them to learn that the complexity of the contemporary world results from diverse cultural and historical perspectives.

Third, students are taught to develop a balanced and enlightened understanding of the place of the United States in global history.

World Languages

The study of languages promotes communication with people of other cultures, fuller participation in the global community, and preparation to play an active role in a global economy.

Through its course offerings, the World Languages Department seeks to develop in students a degree of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in French, and Spanish.  Latin instruction focuses on reading, translation, vocabulary building, and the principles of linguistic structure.  The culture of the language is presented as an integral part of language instruction as well.

In an effort to address different learning styles, the Department promotes a multisensory approach and teaching methods appropriate for the students’ developmental stage. The principle of spiraling is applied to various aspects of the curriculum: knowledge and skills from one stage are recycled in increasingly sophisticated ways. Students are assisted in their progress through continuous feedback and the opportunity to practice.  The systematic inclusion of study and organizational skills fosters a daily routine that is integral to the cumulative effect of language learning.

Each student who graduates from MacDuffie must have successfully completed at least two consecutive years of study in one language while enrolled in the Upper School.


The Mathematics program enables students to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts and to gain proficiency with the mechanics of mathematics.

The curriculum provides experiences designed to help students move along the continuum from concrete to abstract mathematical representations. These experiences include continued development of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, along with advanced concepts with a further goal of training students in the “language” of mathematics, thus preparing them for future work in math and science.

MacDuffie’s mathematics curriculum treats problem-solving as an ongoing process, designed to help students bridge the gap between the theory of mathematics and its applications in the real world. Problems are presented in a manner that requires students to use their knowledge and understanding to resolve new situations. The introduction of historical references is designed to show students that mathematics is a human endeavor and to lead them towards a greater appreciation of the power of pure mathematical thinking.

All math classes at MacDuffie encourage independent thinking and the willingness to take academic risks.

International and other selected students entering MacDuffie are tested for math proficiency. Math placement is based on the test results and previous math achievement.

P.E. + Health

The philosophy of the Physical Education program is to develop positive self-concept through a variety of movement activities and games.  Additionally, the importance of cooperation, effort, preparation, and knowledge are emphasized while developing physical skills.  Through a sound Physical Education program, students will be able to develop strategies to help them appreciate the significance of lifetime activities.

Physical Education is required of all middle school students at MacDuffie.  Upper School boarding students are required to participate in a physical activity after school each season. Whether it is through a competitive sports team or a CAP activity, students build knowledge, motor skills, physical fitness, and teamwork while socializing in a variety of peer groups.

Health class is designed to teach students about societal nuances surrounding physical, mental, and emotional health. All middle school and 10th grade students are required to take Health class.


Science is everywhere and in everything! Our department philosophy is to help students to recognize the relationships between scientific disciplines and to appreciate the relevance of science in their everyday lives.

Facilitating the process for students to become effective thinkers and problem solvers guides our coursework. Learning to ask questions, make observations, set up control experiments, and document and interpret data all to contribute to helping our students use the tools of science to draw appropriate conclusions for themselves. The collaborative nature of scientific work is strongly reinforced through frequent group activities in the classroom. Effective written and oral communication skills are emphasized as well as research skills and the use of appropriate technology.

While two years of laboratory sciences are required in the Upper School, it is recommended that students experience all three of the major disciplines – physics, chemistry, and biology. Students are encouraged to continue their science learning experience and complete four years of science instruction by taking any of the department’s numerous electives.

For students interested in health science careers, we have an outstanding partnership opportunity with the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) that guarantees admission to MCPHS for qualified students.