Emerson Profile 


CEEB: 090065 

Emerson Preparatory School (Emerson) is a small independent college preparatory day school for students in grades 9 through 12.  Founded in 1852, Emerson is the oldest Non-Denominational College Preparatory School in Washington, DC and is located in downtown DC.


Emerson enrolls fewer than 55 students with an average class size of 7 students to preserve a diverse, cohesive, and collegial atmosphere.  There are 21 students in the graduating class of 2019.  The school draws students from the District of Columbia (DC), Virginia, Maryland and the international community.

Semester System

Emerson is based on semesters, similar to college.  Each semester course class periods last for 80 minutes, is equivalent to a full-year course and is completed in a single semester.  There are two semesters, the Fall Term (August-December) and the Spring Term (January-May), per academic year.  Summer courses are also offered for credit.

Grading System

Grades are a scale of 50 to 100.  The passing grade is 65.  Students’ unweighted, cumulative grade point averages are calculated each semester. Letter grades are received for each course while some courses offer a credit/non credit (P/F) option.  

Letter Grade equivalents:  A+=(96-100) A=(93-95) A-=(90-92) B+=(86-89) B=(83-85) B-=(80-82) C+=(76-79) C=(73-75) C-=(70-72) D=(65-69)F=(Below 65)  

Grade points:  A+, A, A- = 4 grade points   B+, B, B- = 3 grade points; C+, C, C- =  2 grade points; D= 1 grade point  F = 0 grade points 

Class rank

Emerson does not rank its students as we do not consider ranking an accurate measure of a student’s academic performances.  ~95% of Emerson students go on to college while others take a gap year, or attend professional schools such as culinary schools or fashion institutes, etc.    


Students Grade Point Averages are not weighted.  

Graduation Requirements

Minimum of 24 credits and four years of high school (max. 32 credits) 

  • English: 5 Credit (3 literature/composition courses are required)

  • Science: 4 Credits (2 laboratory courses are required)

  • Mathematics: 4 Credits (up to Algebra II minimum)

  • Social Sciences: 4 Credits (US History and US Government are required)

  • Art/Music : 2 Credits

  • Foreign Language: 2 Credits (2 consecutive levels are required)

  • Physical Education/Health 1 Credit (¼ credit course per semester)

Optional: 100 hours of Community Service is awarded 1 credit. 

Community Service

Students propose activities for each school year.  For 2017-2018, we offer Yearbook, Business Club, Student Government, ACLU Club, Anime Club, Games Club.


Physical Education

We do not offer competitive sports but we do offer Physical Friday activities to promote participation, cooperation, and well-being. Activities are offered on Fridays during second period for 0.25 credit.  This year, the program includes Basketball, Dancing, Field Sports and Walking.

The grade point average reported to colleges reflects grades earned in the students’ first three years at Emerson unless otherwise noted.  While colleges receive transcripts from all high schools attended, the GPA for a student who transferred to Emerson will reflect only work completed at Emerson.   Credit/Non-Credit course as well as Physical Friday classes are not included in determining GPA, and the average is not weighted.  We do not rank our students.

Averages of Grades & Class Rank

Incoming students take placement tests for English and Math.  Coursework and grades from prior schools do not determine honors placement.  Instead, honors placement is based on instructors’ internal tests, past performance in pre-requisite courses, and approval by the Head of School. 

Student Placement in Courses