Courses and Departments
Through Notre Dame's vibrant, innovative curriculum led by outstanding, passionate faculty, students gain skills, knowledge, and confidence to succeed in the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities.
Upper School students must earn a minimum of 24 credits in major subjects at Notre Dame in order to graduate, and courses in six major subjects must be taken each year. Eleventh and twelfth grade students are strongly encouraged to take electives each year. All ninth grade students are required to take Introduction to Visual and Performing Arts unless they participate in Upper School Ensemble or are selected by audition into Dance Company or Women’s Chorale.
In addition to academic requirements, a minimum of 60 credits (approximately 45 hours) of social service during Upper School is required for graduation. These hours should be completed by September of junior year.
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- Curriculum Guide
- Physical Education
- Religious Studies
- Social Studies
- Visual and Performing Arts
- World Languages
Each Upper School student must earn a minimum of 24 credits in major subjects at Notre Dame in order to graduate, as well as meet all the additional credit or course requirements outlined below. 11th and 12th grade students are strongly encouraged to take electives each year.
- 4 Credits - Electives
- 4 Credits - English
- 4 Credits - Religious Studies
- 3 Credits - Math (Required: Algebra I-II, Geometry and Trigonometry)
- 3 Credits - Science (Required: Biology, Chemistry and Physics)
- 3 Credits - Social Studies (Required: World History and US History)
- 3 Credits - World Languages (Required: 3 Consecutive Years)
- 2 Years - Physical Education
- 2 Semesters - Health
- 0.5 Credits - Arts
- Seminar in each year of Upper School
- Introduction of Visual and Performing Arts
- Successful Completion of Senior Research Project
The required 0.5 credit in the Arts may be earned in grade 10, 11 or 12. All grade 9 students are required to take Introduction to Visual and Performing Arts unless they participate in Upper School Ensemble or audition and are selected into Dance Company or Women’s Chorale. Students can also submit a portfolio to take Art 1, a full-credit version of the intro to visual arts class for 9th graders.
Inspiring Critical Thinking
The course offerings of the English Department enable students to reflect upon the language they use in their daily lives and to develop the reading, writing, speaking, listening and critical thinking skills essential for effective communication.
Students read and analyze a diverse array of literary works, write in a variety of styles and participate in discussions and presentations. They conduct research at every level of study and develop an ability to locate and evaluate appropriate sources. Students are challenged to write from their hearts and minds in a way that will influence their writing for a lifetime.
English Courses Offered:
Introduction to World Literature
Women and Literature
Middle School English Department
The Middle School Language Arts Program reflects Notre Dame’s commitment to the “whole child” by using a variety of teaching and assessment techniques. Students experience various literary genres and essay styles in order to develop fundamental 21st-century critical thinking and writing skills.
As part of the Academy’s goal to foster a love of reading in each student, outside reading is integrated into English courses. Students read and analyze their chosen works to demonstrate their comprehension and analytical skills.
Upper School English Department
All Upper School students continue to develop their reading comprehension, writing and vocabulary skills through written compositions and oral presentations.
Ninth grade students are exposed to a variety of writing styles and genres in their study of World Literature, while the tenth grade curriculum focuses on major British authors and movements. In eleventh grade, analysis and literary interpretation are stressed as students develop an understanding of the major movements in American Literature. For Twelfth grade students, Women and Literature aims to expand students’ understandings of women’s experiences as expressed by male and female writers from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
All seniors participate in a Senior Capstone Project; an experiential and research-based project of their choice. Honors and Advanced Placement courses are available in grades 9-12.
Notre Dame’s Writing Center, a resource for reinforcing a variety of writing skills, is open and available every period of the day and is staffed by upper-level Writing Fellows and members of the English Department. Middle and Upper School students have the opportunity to serve on the staff of a variety of student publications including the newspaper and literary magazine.
Inspiring Competence & Confidence
Notre Dame offers a relevant, rigorous and robust mathematics curriculum designed to prepare our students with the skills necessary to derive solutions to multifaceted 21st century problems. Through the focus on creative and innovative cross curricular problem solving, graduates will be able to successfully apply mathematical concepts to unique, higher level multi-disciplinary challenges within a collaborative society.
Mathematics Courses Offered:
6th Grade Math
Advanced Math Concepts
Algebra / Pre-Algebra
Calculus / Pre-Calculus
Introduction to Finance
- Focus on group and project based learning methodologies
- Foster acquisition and application of critical thinking and problem solving skills through real world STEM applications.
- Integrate technology to differentiate instruction, including an online textbook
- Collaborate with other disciplines to foster holistic knowledge.
- Greater than 98% students enroll in 4 years math
- Greater than 60% of seniors enroll in Calculus or AP-level math
- AP Scores consistently rank above national average
- All Middle School students enroll in at least Algebra I level by 8th grade
- Challenging opportunities for all students
- 3 AP-level math courses available
- Several courses are offered at honors and regular level
- Math electives also available
Mrs. Michele Forsyth, Chair
Mr. Jaret Criss
Mr. Tyler Gaspich
Mr. Andrew Hansen
Ms. Gayatri Mahnkopf
Mrs. Erin Malinowski
Mrs. Toni Miller
Mrs. Heather Monticello
Mrs. Katie Smith
Ms. Allesandra Weston
Inspiring Healthy Living
Physical Education courses at the Academy of Notre Dame provide students the knowledge and basic skills necessary to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. We provide a balanced, sequential program of age-appropriate activities, such as physical fitness, cooperative games and movement, and individual and team activities.
The Physical Education Program provides a positive learning environment conducive to learning and building self-confidence. Students will exhibit respect, responsibility and sportsmanship through participation in a variety of physical education activities.
Interested in playing a sport at ND? Learn more here.
Inspiring Faith and Spirituality
The Religious Studies Department at Notre Dame fosters faith development and critical thinking through a seven-year curriculum that challenges, inspires and educates each student in the foundational elements of the Catholic tradition. The course content reflects the Curriculum Framework outlined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is presented in a sequence that complements our existing Middle School and Upper School curricula.
Middle School Religion Courses:
Catholic Tradition & Scripture
New Testament & Sacraments
Church History & Morality
Upper School Religion Courses:
Introduction to Catholicism
Introduction to Scripture
Social Justice Themes in Film
The Religious Studies Department empowers students to embrace a global perspective on the world awaiting them. Classes thoughtfully connect students to relevant, meaningful experiences in and out of the classroom, and will complement the teaching role of parents by guiding students to a fuller understanding of the faith community in which they participate.
The life and charism of St. Julie Billiart, our founder, is incorporated into the sixth and ninth grade teachings, highlighting themes of fidelity, courage and friendship.
"Mrs. Slattery inspires me because she is such a nice and caring teacher. She is always making sure we are ok and if we need any help." Emma Wellock '28
Inspiring Exploration and Discovery
Notre Dame offers a comprehensive STEM curriculum where critical thinking and analytical skills are encouraged by a question-oriented, problem-solving approach. We strongly believe that hands-on experience is central to science education; therefore, the laboratory component is strongly emphasized. Consistent with our school’s broader goals, the science curriculum addresses the role of women in science and the responsibility to utilize scientific knowledge within a moral values framework.
Science Courses Offered:
A Focus on Student Research
Our vibrant independent research program encourages students to pursue their passion for science. Independent research participants design and implement a year-long scientific research project under the guidance of a science faculty member. A large number of students participate and excel in regional and statewide science competitions, including the PA Junior Academy of Science, the Delaware County Science Fair and the Delaware Valley Science Fair.
Science is Not Limited to the Classroom
The beautiful grounds of Notre Dame serve as a laboratory. On any given day, middle school science students are launching rockets, a physics class is measuring the strength of their raw egg delivery systems, the environmental science class is taking soil samples for analysis, or the biology classes are making dichotomous trees to compare local ecosystems.
"Dr. Maksymowych inspires me to do what I love and never stop learning. She teaches me to find my passion and live it out daily." - Kelly McGlinn '22
Inspiring Global Awareness
The development of critical thinking and writing skills within the framework of an array of Social Sciences (history, government, economics and geography) is fundamental in the preparation of students as both global citizens and leaders. Students develop a respect for, and an appreciation of, cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity, as well as a grasp of major institutions and modern nations in a complex and changing world. The comprehensive nature of each course prepares our students for the demands of college level courses.
Points of Pride:
Varied methodology of instruction
- Project based learning
- Primary source and document based analysis
- Participation in National History Day (Middle School and Upper School - High School National History Day participation offers .25 credit)
Four Advanced Placement Courses: United States Government and Politics; United States History; Human Geography; Comparative Government and Politics.
- Co-curricular activities: Diversity Club, Mock Trial, Model UN, Politics and Public Policy Club and World Affairs Club
Required Social Studies Courses:
- Middle School: Geography; United States History; Civics
- Upper School: World History I; United States History
Social Studies Electives:
- American Government
- World History II
- Global Studies in the 21st Century
- Macroeconomics and Contemporary World Issues
- AP United States Government and Politics
- AP United States History
- AP Human Geography
- AP Comparative Government and Politics
- Independent Research (National History Day)
Social Studies Faculty
"Mrs. Fox is an amazing teacher and person. She makes you feel like family the second you step into her classroom. She comes to school everyday with enthusiasm for her job. Even though I don't have her as a teacher anymore I still love to visit." Helen Coogan '25
At the Academy of Notre Dame, we are committed to providing our students with a dynamic, state-of-the-art learning environment that will prepare them to succeed in an ever-evolving, information-based, and highly technological society.
All students receive an Apple Macbook Air, one of the most powerful personal devices on the educational market. By using the same device and consistent software, teachers and students can focus on enhanced critical thinking, streamlined collaboration and communication in all disciplines, and other skills necessary for a 21st century individual. Our curriculum encourages students to become more responsible citizens, helps students recognize the significance of their digital footprint, and provides tools to battle misinformation in a continuously evolving digital landscape.
Technology Courses Offered:
Robotics and Coding
Anatomy and Physiology
Alongside our one-to-one program, our technology department supports student learning with a blend of Cloud-based technologies as well as traditional on-site technologies. This includes large format and 3D printers, and dynamic classrooms equipped with high resolution projectors, Apple TVs for a fully wireless environment, and iPads for a fully mobile teaching and learning environment.
An updated wireless digital language lab offers students in every classroom a multimedia-based learning environment for independent or collaborative activities to develop language proficiency. Students in our physical science classes use interactive data recorders and computers to analyze data in real time. Middle school mathematics courses feature a dynamic e-book which provide instantaneous feedback to assignments and embedded videos to support immediate remediation. As technology evolves, Notre Dame teachers are constantly adjusting their curriculum to maximize learning while simultaneously embracing the importance of healthy digital citizenship.
Because of its innovative uses of technology throughout the school and our leadership in the field, the Academy of Notre Dame has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for 2021-2024.
Inspiring Creativity at Notre Dame
At the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, we believe that the fine and performing arts are both a creative and academic pursuit. Here, students learn to appreciate the creative process, solve problems, respect others’ forms of expression, and to work in groups. The arts faculty consider the development of imagination, creativity, and aesthetic judgment to be essential compliments to the critical thinking skills developed in other disciplines. Click the buttons below to dive into the arts world at Notre Dame.
Middle School Visual Arts
Upper School Visual Arts
Middle School Dance
Upper School Dance
Middle School Music
Upper School Music
Fine and Performing Arts Scholarships
Notre Dame offers fine and performing art-based scholarships for those with a passion and proven-interest in the arts. Information on these awards can be found here.
Inspiring Fluent Communicators
The World Languages Department at Notre Dame offers extended and uninterrupted sequences of study in French, Latin, Mandarin and Spanish.
Fostering global citizenship is an essential component of a 21st century education and a vital part of our mission. In order to achieve this goal, Notre Dame has made a commitment to the study of world languages, requiring our students to study at least three consecutive years of one language in the Upper School. The opportunity to study a second world language is available in grade 10 as an elective. French, Spanish, Latin and Mandarin are all currently available in Levels 1-5 and AP.
In the Middle School, students are exposed to each of the four languages (French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish) for one quarter in grade 6. At the end of grade 6, students select the language they will study for grades 7 and 8.
Language Courses Offered:
French I-V, AP
Latin I-V, AP
Latin Language and Roman Culture
Mandarin Chinese I-V, AP
Spanish I-V, AP
Spanish Language and Culture
World Languages Grade 6
- Develop and strengthen the four language skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking).
- Encourage the use of the languages for communication beyond the classroom walls.
- Encourage students to embrace their role as global citizens and to develop their cultural competency.
- Endow students with a deep and compassionate understanding of the global community in which they live.
- Think critically about grammar usage, using both inductive and deductive reasoning.
- Develop an appreciation for and understanding of the cultures and history of the people who use the target language.
As part of our one-to-one laptop initiative, each student can practice her oral and listening skills using the DiLL language lab software available on her MacBook.
- Throughout the school year, students take field trips to museums, participate in community events and attend visits by native speakers.
- The Notre Dame language clubs (French, Chinese, Spanish, and Classics) cultivate student interest in language study. In this informal setting, students will be able to practice their language skills and to participate in dynamic activities that foster a fuller understanding of the cultures involved.
- International travel and enrichment programs are coordinated through the Center for Global Leadership.
Points of Pride:
Notre Dame’s World Languages Department continues to be recognized by the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association (PSMLA) with its highest award as a PSMLA Exemplary Program (PEP) in recognition of its exemplary, well-articulated program led by highly qualified teachers. We are the only school in the state of Pennsylvania to receive this award nine consecutive times.
Our students receive numerous awards annually for their performance in the National French Contest, the National Latin Exam, the National Spanish Exam, and other oral and written competitions in the region.
World Languages Faculty
The Connelly Library, named for a generous gift from the Connelly Foundation, was designed as an “information commons”—a flexible and functional simultaneous-use facility where students, faculty, and staff can gather and collaborate within the context of academic research, using the latest tools for information retrieval, storage, and presentation.
The library’s 5,000-square-foot main room contains comfortable seating areas, tables to accommodate classes and student research, a large circulation desk, and stacks filled with over 7,900 volumes. Courtesy of grants from the Hamilton Family Foundation and the Benedict Foundation for Independent Schools, a library classroom with a Smart Board is available for class use. Additional spaces house four group study rooms, the Writing Center, the Technology Center and the Global Conferencing Lab."
Mrs. Vicki Abens, Librarian
610.687.0650., ext. 263
Hours and Location:
The Connelly Library is located on the second floor of the Harron Family Building and is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm.
- The Connelly Library contains a classroom with a Smart Board for student research classes.
- Students and faculty have the use of a copier, a black and white printer, and a color printer.
- Students have 24/7 access to our subscription databases and eBooks which can be accessed through the Resource Center link below.
- Students may check out books for a period of two weeks.