History

Washington’s Oldest Non-Denominational College Preparatory School

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Emerson Preparatory School began in 1852 as the Emerson Institute, a school to prepare local boys for attendance at Harvard.  Emerson was named after George Barrell Emerson, a progressive thinker in women's education and cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Early Emerson graduates include three-time Civil War Medal of Honor recipient James Madison Cutts, and Buck and Jesse Root Grant, sons of President Ulysses S. Grant.   

Emerson evolved to become a more inclusive college preparatory school, as Washington’s first co-ed preparatory school in 1920.  After World War II, in 1946 Emerson adopted its current half-year, full-credit academic term system, modeled after the British system of secondary education.  Today Emerson welcomes a diverse student body from all parts of DC, suburban Maryland and Virginia, and the international community and prepares them in a healthier way for colleges and universities throughout the United States and the world.