Academic Program

Founding Principles

In 1990, Hillsdale Academy opened its doors to 45 students in grades K-8. Today, it serves students in grades K-12, and its program has gained national acclaim. Academy students consistently place at or above the 97th percentile on standardized tests. The Academy’s curriculum has been implemented in over 500 schools across the nation.

Hillsdale Academy’s success, according to syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell, rests on the fact that it “is not afraid of being out of step with the educational fashions of the time. Hillsdale Academy was set up to teach traditional subjects in traditional ways.”

As a result, Hillsdale Academy offers a carefully selected curriculum that relies predominantly on primary sources, historical documents, biographies, autobiographies and classic works of literature, and it avoids textbooks that have been subject to over-simplification or historical revisionism. Not only is the program academically rigorous, it is grounded in traditional moral principles. Emphasis is placed on self-respect, which results from a student’s academic accomplishment, proper conduct and regard for others.

The Academy rejects the fashionable notion that “self-esteem” is the object of education.

A Time-Tested Approach to Education

Refusing to settle for a minimum level of student competence, Hillsdale Academy pursues the goal of mastering academic content and skills. All students follow a common, rigorous course of study. A low student-to-teacher ratio ensures that every student receives the personal attention needed to ensure individual, academic success.

A Traditional Curriculum

Hillsdale Academy’s curriculum features a traditional, well-balanced core of essential subjects. Students in grades K-8 receive instruction in phonics, grammar and mechanics, literature, history, geography, science, conversational French, art, music and physical education. Upper School students are required to complete four years each of Humane Letters (history and literature, including civics and economics in the senior year), Latin, laboratory science and mathematics. They must also complete two years of art, music and physical education. Students may elect to continue their study of modern languages in the Upper School by taking French. To receive a diploma, a student must maintain a minimum overall grade-point average of C-, as well as fulfill a minimum attainment level of C- in Latin II, Algebra II, American civics and economics. 

The Hillsdale Academy program emphasizes homework, daily review, memorization and drill. At the same time, it stresses civility: students are expected to value learning, to respect their teachers, themselves and fellow students, to be neat, punctual and considerate.

Clear Standards of Conduct

When Academy students come to school, they come to important, rigorous work in a well-structured and caring environment. Both their conduct and dress must support the school’s seriousness of purpose. To this end, all students wear uniforms, and each day begins with an Opening flag-raising ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance. Students must maintain a respectful attitude in class and respond to teachers politely and with deference. School-wide standards of conduct help Academy students develop good habits of behavior that will continue in adulthood.