In order to graduate, a student must accrue 20.5 credits of academic work. 18.5 of these credits are required courses or courses elected from among designated departmental offerings; the other two may be chosen from any area. One credit is given for a year-long course that meets three times a rotation; students are required to take a minimum of 5 credit-bearing courses each semester. In addition, participating in Minicourse and EOY each year as well as senior speeches and experience senior year (all described below) is necessary to receive an MA diploma.

ENGLISH: 4 credits

Four years of English are required. English I (required in the 9th grade), English II (required in the 10th grade) and English III Honors (required in the 11th grade) are mandatory. Senior year, two semester-long courses must be taken from the various electives offered as English 300-650. The numerical designation associated with each course does not reflect the level of difficulty.

ETHNIC STUDIES: .5 credits

One semester of Introduction to Ethnic Studies is required during the spring semester of 9th grade.  

HISTORY: 3 credits

Three years of history are required, including Modern World History I, Modern World History II, and United States History. Four years are recommended.


Two semesters are required; fall semester in 9th grade and spring semester in 10th.

MATHEMATICS: 3 credits

Three years of mathematics and the completion of Algebra II are required. Four years are recommended.

SCIENCE: 3 credits

Three years of laboratory science are required. This includes Ninth Grade Biology, Tenth Grade Chemistry, and one year of Physics (Physics, Advanced Physics, Astrophysics, or Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). Physics may be taken in either the junior or senior year. Four years of science are recommended.


Two years of fine arts are required. More are recommended.


Completion of three years of the same world language regardless of starting point. (For example, students who begin in Level I must complete at least Level III, students who begin in Level II must complete at least Level IV, etc.) Four years of world language are recommended.

ELECTIVES: 2 credits

In addition to the required departmental (18.5) credits, students must have another two credits. These credits can be taken in any department or though general elective offerings.


To complete their physical education requirement, students must accumulate a minimum of 3.5 physical education “points” by the end of their senior year. Students may earn PE points in a variety of ways including interscholastic team sports, outings, independent study, Minicourse, Physical Education electives, etc., or by a combination of such courses, activities, and MA athletic teams.

Senior Speeches

As part of the senior experience, each member of the class makes a speech to the community, normally at a school assembly. Guidelines are distributed at the beginning of the year. Speeches may take various forms: some more performance oriented, others strictly oratory. The senior speech is a requirement for graduation.


Minicourse takes place each February for one week and is a time when students and faculty can immerse themselves in an activity of broad educational value to a degree that is not possible during the regular school year. With an intense focus over prolonged time, the experience enables students to learn through first-hand practice, helping them arrive at the end of the course with new insights, sympathies, skills, and knowledge. A major part of the experience is the social awareness fostered by working closely with a small group of like-minded people within the atmosphere of project-based learning. The intensity and time involved create the opportunity for wide-ranging discussion and cooperation between members of the group, and students’ judgment and initiative are employed whenever possible in order to build competence and responsibility. Minicourse options challenge students physically, intellectually, and spiritually, in varying combinations.

Students sign up for courses offered by faculty and staff and are asked to assist in the organization and planning of the week. Past minicourses have included Bay Area Art Museums, Backpacking on Catalina Island, Electric Guitar Building, and American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification. Minicourse is required of all students. Ninth grade courses are separate from 10th–12th grade (combined) minicourses and are focused on the specific needs, interests, and growth of teens at the start of their high school experience.

Culminating Projects

At the end of each school year, ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders participate in culminating experiences that take place during the last several days of school. These days are a time when learning is shared and celebrated. The culminating experience for seniors is a three-week Senior Project (described below). Please note: Full participation in the culminating experiences is a graduation requirement. Families, please note the dates of the experiences before making summer plans.

Senior Project

During May of their senior year, students independently pursue an area of interest that they would not be able to study within the Marin Academy curriculum. This graduation requirement is waived for seniors who are at risk of not graduating due to grades, and who instead must stay at school to continue their regular studies. The Senior Project program has four components:

  1. In the fall of their senior year, students work with their advisors to get feedback on their Senior Project ideas and reach out to appropriate community members for internships and other learning experiences.

  2. In January of their senior year, students submit a Senior Project proposal and receive approval ) for their plans. The appropriate and relevant proposal follows a template that accounts for deep learning, a competency-based focus, impact beyond self, , at least 35 hours a week for the project’s three weeks duration in May, and project supervision. Students who turn in proposals that are not approved must rework or start all over to create an approved project. 

  3. During roughly the first three weeks of May of their senior year, students will be immersed in their senior project.

  4. At the end of their Senior Project, seniors will present their projects and turn in a reflection of their work.


Projects are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Failure of the senior project will jeopardize the student’s receiving of a diploma during graduation exercises. Seniors who are TAs, in ensembles, in a play, or have other school-based obligations are expected to continue those commitments during senior project time as required by their program’s teachers/advisors.