Upper School

Upper School

GISB graduates are multi-lingual global citizens with advanced skills in science and math. The Upper School at German International School Boston emphasizes a rigorous college preparatory curriculum; all students in grades nine through twelve prepare for the German International Abitur and graduates also earn a Massachusetts high school diploma. The Abitur – an internationally-recognized honors diploma comparable to the International Baccalaureate – is an indication of excellence to colleges and universities across the United States and Europe.

Yet GISB’s Upper School journey is not merely about one’s destination after graduation. Our close-knit community of friends and faculty love learning from each other, pushing each other further, and laughing together. The school’s International Student Program welcomes fresh faces and energy every year. Whether hiking in New Hampshire, exploring New York City, or just enjoying ice cream in nearby Harvard Square, Upper School is a time to connect, reflect, and decide who you want to be.

GISB students in grades 9 and higher are eligible to apply for the GISB Merit Award, an annual award honoring academic excellence, extracurricular activities and community service.

What is the German International Abitur?

The German International Abitur is a highly-regarded high school diploma demonstrating academic rigor and excellence. Subjects are taught at an advanced level similar to Advanced Placement or International Baccaulaureate courses. The diploma emphasizes science, with nine hours of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology a week. Language is of course also important; the diploma is a bilingual form of the Abitur awarded at German honors high schools (Gymnasium), and indicates native proficiency in German and English. A two-year qualification process during junior and senior year includes ten subjects. Students take five final Abitur exams (three written, two oral) overseen by a German educational official.

The Abitur exams in grades eleven and twelve (and many other assessments throughout Elementary, Middle, and Upper School at GISB) assess three levels of thinking. The first level requires understanding of content and the ability to reproduce a memorized text or mathematical operation. The second level asks a student to analyze, explore, or interpret a concept. To demonstrate the third and most complex level of thinking, students must go beyond the text or scientific principle in order to apply a theme, principle, operation, or analysis to another context.

The following chart outlines how the minimum requirements for a German International Abitur compare to the minimum requirements for a U.S. high school diploma:

Minimum requirements for a U.S. high school diploma Minimum requirements for a German International Abitur at GISB
  • 4 years of English literature
  • 3 years of math
  • 3 years of science
  • 3 years of history and social science
  • 3 years physical education
  • 1 year visual arts
  • 2 years second language (often optional)
  • 4 years of English literature
  • 4 years of German literature
  • 4 years of math
  • 4 years of all three sciences: physics, chemistry, biology (taught bilingually)
  • 4 years of history and social science
  • 1 year of geography
  • 4 years of physical education
  • 3 years of visual arts
  • 1 year of music
  • 4 years of third language

For more detail, read an overview of the Upper School curriculum.

Find out what a “typical” day looks like in GISB’s Upper School.

Learn more about the hours of GISB’s Upper School.