Upper School

List of 4 items.

  • 15

    Humanities electives
  • 11

    STEM electives
  • 15+

    Student led Co-curricular clubs
  • 2

    Students are required to take two years of Visual and Performing Arts classes
The Upper School at Providence Country Day (grades 9-12) encourages students to develop the tools they need to succeed in and out of the classroom.

With our small size, strong student-teacher relationships, and opportunity for students to participate in all aspects of school life, PCD creates personalized learning that is tailored for every student.

About PCD's Upper School

List of 4 items.

  • Upper School Curriculum

    As a private high school, we have more flexibility in our curriculum. PCD class sizes are small, and teachers use a variety of strategies that encourage and emphasize each student’s role in their own education. PCD’s use of project- and inquiry-based learning, as well as the Harkness Method, are examples of the Upper School’s hands-on learning style.

    PCD Upper School Departments offer many different course levels, giving students the chance to pursue strengths and talents or find support where needed. PCD’s Advisory and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs influence the classroom, and signature programs such as the “Physics First” track and the year-long Big History Project are also important components of the curriculum.

    PCD’s Upper School college prep curriculum includes English (reading and writing), World Languages (Latin and Spanish, with online options for French, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian), History (The Big History Project, modern world, US history), Mathematics (Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus), Performing Arts (band and chorus), Science (physics, chemistry, and biology), and Visual Art (2D, 3D, digital media).

    9th graders focus on foundational education in these subjects before branching out to individualized tracks by choosing from a wide variety of electives in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Students are expected to complete a Senior Project and to meet academic, athletic, and community service requirements prior to graduation.

    Grade 9
    Grade 10
    Grade 11
    Grade 12
    4 years required
    English 9: Identity and Community
    English 10: The Individual and Community
    English Electives
    English Electives
    AP Literature
    3 years required
    (4 years recommended)
    History 9: World History Origins
    Modern World History
    AP European History
    US History
    AP US History
    12 Grade History Senior Electives
    AP Art History
    3 years required
    (4 years recommended)
    Algebra I A and B*
    Algebra II A and B*
    Honors Algebra II
    Honors Geometry
    Honors Pre-Calculus

    *A = Standard; B = College Prep
    Algebra II A and B*
    Honors Algebra II
    Honors Geometry
    Honors Pre-Calculus
    AP Calculus AB & BC

    *A = Standard; B = College Prep
    Honors Geometry
    Honors Pre-Calculus
    Differential Equations
    Multivariable Calculus
    AP Calculus AB & BC
    AP Statistics
    12th Grade Math Electives
    Differential Equations
    Multivariable Calculus
    AP Calculus AB & BC
    AP Statistics
    3 years of lab science required
    Conceptual Physics
    Honors Chemistry
    Honors Biology
    AP Computer Science Principles
    AP Physics C
    12th Grade Science Electives
    AP Biology
    AP Physics C
    World Languages
    3 years recommended; level 3 required
    Latin I, II
    Spanish I, II
    Latin II, III
    Spanish II, III
    Honors Spanish III
    Latin III, IV
    Spanish III, IV
    Honors Spanish III
    Latin IV
    AP Latin
    Spanish IV, V
    AP Spanish
    Performing & Visual Arts
    2 years required
    Jazz Ensemble
    Trimester Electives
    Jazz Ensemble
    Advanced Studio I
    Trimester Electives
    Advanced Jazz Ensemble
    Jazz Ensemble
    Advanced Studio I & II
    Trimester Electives
    Advanced Jazz Ensemble
    Jazz Ensemble
    Advanced Studio I, II, & III
    Trimester Electives
    Advanced Jazz Ensemble
    AP Music Theory
    AP Studio Art
  • Upper School Environment

    Students at the Upper School have the opportunity not only to participate in the classroom, but in student government, the arts, co-curricular activities, and athletics as well.

    Leadership and student government opportunities are available through Student Council, Peer Advisors, and the Community Standards Group. Peer Advisors provide upperclassmen mentorship to incoming ninth graders, while the Community Standards Group advocates for PCD’s core values.

    High School Art: PCD’s arts curriculum focuses on artistic growth rather than the creation of perfect works of art. There are many opportunities for performance through the jazz ensemble, advanced ensemble, choir, or in school plays or musicals.

    Co-curricular clubs can require extensive preparation and time commitments (such as Mock Trial, which represented Rhode Island in the 2017, 2019, and 2020 National Championships!), while others offer a fun way to pursue shared interests (Ping Pong Club, Music Appreciation, or Joy of Crafting).

    Sports are required at PCD and focus on participation, teamwork, and fitness.

    Credit towards the sports requirement can also be earned through participation in the annual musical or individual off-campus athletic pursuits such as gymnastics, fencing, or equestrianism.

    On-campus team options include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling.

    The Upper School also offers place-based learning experiences through cultural immersion trips to Quebec, political education programs in Washington DC or the New Hampshire Primaries, and outdoor exercises through white water rafting in Maine or surfing and yoga in Costa Rica.

    Other unique features of PCD include the Winter Arts Session, Community Service, World Culture Day, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programming, Social and Emotional Curriculum addressed in advisory groups, and the Senior Wellness Program.

    The Upper School is designed to inspire, challenge, encourage, and support all students, wherever they are in their unique educational journeys. Students go forth from PCD as independent learners and thinkers, with the skills and practice to be resourceful, ethical innovators in both new and familiar settings.
  • College Counseling

    Our Director of College Counseling works with students in Grades 9-12 introducing them to the college process through a developmentally appropriate framework. Early high school students are asked to reflect on who they are by using various assessments including personal strengths, skills, learning styles, personality characteristics in terms of future goals and academic planning. They are also introduced to early academic, college and career planning tools. The college search and application process intensifies in junior year. Students receive highly individualized support throughout Grades 11 and 12.
    College Counseling
  • College Preparation

    Whether your grandparents attended university or you’ll be the first person in your family to graduate from high school, PCD’s personalized education gives each student the tools they need to succeed in college—and to decide what to study.

    PCD’s diverse and challenging curriculum, combined with an emphasis on sports, the arts, and co-curriculars, allows each student to find their unique path and develop important skills for choosing, applying to, and attending college. 

    Our alumni attend colleges and universities across the United States and several countries, and have gone on to careers as lawyers, architects, business owners, marketing directors, engineers, artists, writers, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals and more. 

    Alumni frequently attribute their college and career success to early lessons taught at PCD through the diverse and rigorous curriculum. Time management, critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, problem solving, work ethic, perseverance, and confidence built through the opportunity to try a wide variety of classes, co-curriculars, and sports are often cited as being important to their success.

Upper School Daily Schedule

PCD has a seven-day rotating schedule. Classes meet in a similar sequence each day, but the sequence starts with a different period each day. The schedule enhances the student learning experience with built-in flexibility and a more efficient workflow. Students have the opportunity to perform during individual peak times, and a regular block when the school can gather in its entirety allows for unique off-campus activities without sacrificing valuable classroom time. An extended 70-minute teaching period at the start of each day in the upper school supports greater variety of instruction to help make the vital connections between theory and practice.
Every school is different and one size does not fit all. Just as each child is unique, so too is the experience each child will have at the school he/she attends.
PCD teachers are not only experts in their disciplines, but they are also experts in adolescent education. It is what they do—and love. They are fire starters and light up the classroom every day, whether in class or in one of the unique programs that you will only find at PCD.

Signature Programs

List of 6 items.

Upper School Clubs and Co-Curriculars

Amidst a seemingly full schedule, Providence Country Day School students find the energy and passion to lead and participate in a vibrant club program. Student leaders often emerge through these programs because clubs are wholly student driven. Each year, some new clubs start, other clubs are retired, and longstanding clubs gain new life and direction.

While students are primarily responsible for planning cocurricular activities, at least one faculty advisor helps manage each club. Activities like Mock Trial are rigorous and challenging—requiring an extensive time commitment, while others—such as Crafting and the Music Appreciation Club, give students a fun way to pursue shared interests. In addition, groups like Habitat for Humanity and PeaceJam sponsor wide-spread community service efforts, while Student Government and Admissions Ambassadors contribute greatly to the social and cultural climate of the school. Thus, through cocurricular activities, PCD students gain another frame through which they see the significance of participation, initiative, persistence, and hard work.

If students come to PCD with an inclination to specialize, they leave with an often unexpected appreciation for new and diverse interests.


  • Admissions Ambassadors
  • Board Games
  • Chess Club
  • Chess Team
  • Chinese Students Association
  • Coffee House
  • Community Outreach Club
  • Community Standards Committee
  • Cooking
  • Current Events
  • Diversity
  • Frisbee
  • GSA – Gender & Sexuality Alliance
  • Improv
  • Joy of Crafting
  • Leftist Studies Society
  • Mock Trial
  • Movie
  • Music Appreciation
  • Newspaper
  • Peace Jam
  • Peer Advising
  • Peer Tutoring
  • Philosophy Club
  • Roundtable Newspaper
  • Quilting Club
  • Spike Ball Club
  • Student Council
  • Students in Action
  • World Affairs
  • Yearbook

List of 1 items.

  • Rhode Island State Champions

    PCD's Mock Trial Team works with professional attorney/coaches to prepare prosecution, defense and witness testimonies. The team competes throughout the year and in 2017, 2019, and 2020 PCD represented the state of Rhode Island in the National Championships.

Applying to PCD's Upper School: Next Steps

Applying to PCD requires a completed application form, official school transcripts, an entrance exam, two teacher recommendations, an interview with a member of PCD’s Admissions Office team, and neuro-psychological or psycho-educational testing results (if applicable).

International applicants must also include the International Student Supplement form and results of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

If you are interested in attending PCD, request more information below!

Upper School FAQ

List of 12 frequently asked questions.

  • How do we apply to PCD?

    Applying to PCD requires a completed application form, official school transcripts, an entrance exam, two teacher recommendations, an interview with a member of PCD’s Admissions Office team, and neuro-psychological or psycho-educational testing results (if applicable).

    International applicants must also include the International Student Supplement form and results of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
    Applying to PCD
  • Does PCD offer financial aid?

    Yes, PCD offers financial aid. A completed PCD Financial Aid Application consists of a copy of your most recent federal 1040 tax form and W2 wage statements. These forms should be submitted online. PCD also offers need based financial aid, merit scholarships, and one or more "1923 Scholarships" each year for students entering grades six and nine.
    Affording PCD
  • What kind of student does PCD look for

    The ideal PCD student is one who is excited about learning, willing to explore new things, and interested in participating in a broad program of academics, athletics, and the arts.

    The PCD Upper School accepts rising 9th through 12th graders. International students can also attend PCD.
  • What is PCD's Upper School schedule like?

    PCD follows a seven-day rotating schedule. Each day begins with an extended class period and the schedule includes a daily division-wide community time during which students can meet with teachers.
  • What are PCD's graduation requirements?

    PCD requires students to meet academic, athletic, and community service requirements in order to graduate. 

    Academic requirements include completing four years of English, three years of History, Mathematics, Science, and Foreign and Classical Languages, and two years of Visual and Performing Arts. 

    Athletic requirements are met through a point system. Nine points are required for graduation, which is equivalent to playing two team sports per year. 

    Community service requirements include completing 45 hours of service before senior year and participating in school-wide Days of Service.
  • How are students placed in 9th grade classes?

    All ninth graders are placed in English 9 and History 9; math and languages require placement exams. Science placement is lined up with math placement. For new students, admissions materials are also used to determine appropriate levels. 
  • What if I'm not an athlete?

    Students don’t need experience in a sport to join a team. Sports are about participation, teamwork, and fitness, and there are many levels available to suit different abilities and interests. Students can also earn points towards their athletic requirement by helping with a sports team, completing the Fit for Life fitness program, or even participating in the school musical. 
  • What teacher support is offered?

    PCD’s small class sizes allow students to build strong relationships with their teachers. Faculty is available for support during daily community time as well as before and after school. 
  • What is The Learning Center?

    The Learning Center offers students support above and beyond the regular classroom experience. PCD’s learning specialists work with students to identify individual learning styles and provide the necessary tools to support academic success.
    The Learning Center
  • Can I choose my advisor, and how long do I have them?

    Advisory teams are carefully decided and built through collaboration with Upper School administrators using information from the Middle School and the input of teachers and families.

    A specialized ninth grade advising team works with rising ninth graders every year. Students are assigned a new advisor in tenth grade and remain with that advisor until graduation.
  • What is PCD doing to encourage Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

    PCD’s teachers ensure their students read a diverse range of authors and perspectives in or to expose them to different issues and topics. PCD also has a full-time Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion who creates educational programming throughout the school year.
  • What does PCD do to promote health and well-being?

    PCD has a School Nurse along with a Wellness Coordinator. Athletics are a big part of PCD and students are encouraged to pursue active and healthy lifestyles. PCD offers a school-wide Wellness Program and a Social and Emotional Curriculum. To support the Social and Emotional Curriculum, PCD also partners with Day One (a local organization) to provide workshops and guest speakers.