Academy Profile: Curriculum

The Academy is in session 162 days a year. The school day is from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Students receive accelerated academic instruction along with intensive artistic studies. Courses at Interlochen are neither weighted nor labeled, but should be considered rigorous, either meeting or exceeding honors or advanced placement levels.

Interlochen Arts Academy selectively enrolls the most talented and motivated students from around the world. Given our non-traditional population and distinct educational program, comparisons by rank do not adequately describe the superior qualifications of our graduates.

The Inter*mester term is an opportunity for the Interlochen community to explore exciting new curriculum designed with an emphasis on collaboration, interdisciplinary themes, and the creative spirit of the artist. The shorter elective classes are intended to introduce students to new skills, topics and ideas in order to expand student knowledge and interests.

Exchange Programs
Interlochen has several active exchange programs with schools in China, Australia, France, Singapore, and Wales. These programs are designed to allow opportunities to experience different cultures, modes of instruction, and unique artistic programs.


The mathematics department provides courses from Algebra I to AP Statistics and AP Calculus. All courses require the use of calculators and computer software as investigative tools. Students create and use graphs of data and functions to develop mathematical skills, to reason through problems and to understand complex relationships. The curriculum encourages experimental and exploratory problem-solving and communication of mathematical ideas verbally and in writing.


The science department provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with small classes and well-equipped laboratories. The department develops critical thinking skills and emphasizes technology as a means of fostering 21st century skills. The wooded 1,200-acre campus is located between two lakes and provides an ideal laboratory for coursework in the natural sciences. Students may select from a core curriculum of courses (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) or more specialized course offerings (Advanced Chemistry, Forensics, Astronomy and Ecology).

World Language

Course offerings include French and Spanish. Instruction is exclusively in the target language, and all communication between the teacher and students takes place in the target language, including grammatical explanations and cultural topics. In essence, the language classroom begins to approximate a microcosm of the foreign country. Contextual clues, cognates, gestures and visual aids assist the student in understanding without the need to translate to or from his or her native language. Participation at weekly language tables is required to promote meaningful communication in a less structured environment.

History and Political Science

The department stimulates an awareness of the human condition, emphasizing the application of rational thinking to an understanding of our historical, economic, political and social development. Course offerings may include History of Hatred, Century of Conflict, History Research and Film, Economics, Parties and Elections, Republic on Trial, Foundations of America, Contemporary America, Rise of Modern America, International Relations, Social Justice - Humanities and the Arts, and World History.


Employing both traditional and innovative methods of intellectual inquiry, the Interlochen English faculty assist students in the exploration of human experience through the pursuit of literary appreciation and the development of language skills. English I and II are required, and literature-based college-preparatory courses emphasize the study of literary works and the development of formal composition skills. Upper-level elective English courses are academically accelerated, using methods and materials that are comparable to or exceed advanced placement courses. Course offerings may include: American, Russian, British Literature; Short Story; Southern Literature; Modern European Literature; Shakespeare; Women in Literature; Classical Mythology; Articulating an Argument; Writing About the Arts; Native American Literature; Middle Eastern Literature; Outsiders, Misfits and Weirdos Add - The Harlem Renaissance and American Literature; Illuminating Lives - Biography and Memoir; The Quest for Meaning; The Epic Hero; Social Justice - Humanities and the Arts.

English Learners

The English Language department includes a variety of language and content courses. Faculty address the immediate linguistic and social skills needed for non-native English speakers to fit into life in an English-speaking society. All levels are taught.

Physical Health & Wellness

To ensure a healthy mind and body, the brand new Dennison Center for Recreation and Wellness is a 23,000-square-foot facility devoted to year-round physical activity. It includes a large gym that can be partitioned for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, archery and other activities. It also boasts weight and fitness rooms, a climbing wall, a game room, a yoga studio and more.

Comparative Arts

The comparative arts department's mission is to develop relationships with cutting edge artists that explore connections among unlikely things through collaboration. The only program in the country to offer an interdisicplinary arts major for high school students, the curriculum seeks to develop innovation, guiding students from idea to inception, with a group of extraordinary teaching artists from the arts, humanities and sciences.

Creative Writing

The creative writing program provides the experience necessary for students to continue their development as writers. Recognizing that most students are only beginning their writing careers at this age, the Academy is strongly committed to providing extensive writing experience in conjunction with critiques from peers and faculty.


The dance program educates dancers to be versatile, well-rounded artists who are prepared to face the rigors and technical demands of today’s dance world. The Academy provides a classical ballet-based curriculum that includes pointe, pas de deux, variations, and men’s class with additional emphasis in modern technique, composition and anatomical awareness. The faculty create a challenging yet supportive environment where dancers are encouraged to explore their potential as technicians, artists and creative thinkers.

Motion Picture Arts

The motion picture arts program (MPA) offers students a progressive, interdisciplinary education in cinema through story, digital production and critical studies courses, with foundations in film history, screenwriting, creative writing, and the related disciplines of theatre, visual arts, dance and music. The MPA curriculum is designed to provide leadership opportunities, practical training and cross-disciplinary collaboration, preparing students to become articulate, creative visual storytellers.


The Academy is recognized as one of the foremost pre-professional schools for musicians. Students can specialize in voice or a specific instrument, study additional instruments, investigate jazz history and improvisation, explore their potential as composers and singersongwriters, and gain a solid background in music theory as they develop their total musicianship. Master classes with visiting guest artists, off-campus programs and tours complement the curriculum.

Theatre Arts

Recently named the top high school program in the country by the Hollywood Reporter, the theatre arts department provides preprofessional training in all aspects of performance as well as design and production. Performance students receive strong foundational acting training augmented by electives ranging from Acting Shakespeare to World Theatre and a wide range of Musical Theatre classes. 

Visual Arts

The visual arts program helps young artists develop personal vision and technical abilities through experimentation with a variety of media. Problem solving, critical thinking and experimentation with processes integral to the medium build a foundation for aesthetic and original thinking.