Exploring the Education System in New York City

Discover what it's like to study in New York City! Learn about NYC's education system from primary & secondary schools to private & international institutions.

Exploring the Education System in New York City

New York City is home to the largest education system in the world, with a comprehensive infrastructure that covers primary, secondary, higher education and research. The city is renowned for its prestigious libraries, universities and research centers, as well as its academically competitive private schools. To gain admission to these schools, prospective students must often pass academic exams and interviews, and waiting lists can be long. The education system in New York City has a long history. In colonial times, there were no school systems, but rather individual schools.

As communities settled and became more permanent, various types of schools emerged. In some of the cities of the Hudson Valley and Long Island, where Dutch settlers predominated, schooling was a community responsibility that was carried out through the Dutch Reformed Church. Brooklyn appointed its first schoolteacher in 1661. In the mid-19th century, most schools in New York were single-classroom and one-teacher schools, attended by students of different ages. If private education is preferred, there are nearly 200 private schools dedicated to special education throughout New York State.

The New York City Department of Education helps students with special educational needs through individualized education programs (IEPs).At the end of the 19th century, New York experienced rapid growth in both population and industrial activity. Teacher unions worked to improve salaries and benefits, as well as promote measures that would benefit schools and students. In 1896, a reorganization of the Board of Education eliminated the formerly powerful administrators of local neighborhood schools. Those who send their children to a private or international school in New York will have more flexibility since the student's address does not govern admissions. The New York Public Library offers “Enrichment Zones” where children can get help with homework and develop their reading and math skills. Deciding what type of school newcomers send their children to in New York can also play an important role in the neighborhood they choose to live in.

In New York City, segregated living patterns are a factor that influences racially unrepresentative schools, but they are not decisive. Most schools in New York City are diverse and used to receiving students from abroad, so international students should be able to settle in fairly quickly. The schools of the Public School Society, in New York City, and the schools in the upstate district were all theoretically non-denominational.