High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College (HSMSE)

Grades 9-12
Staff Pick
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240 Convent Ave
Manhattan NY 10031
Harlem (District 5)
Trains: 1 to 137th St-City College; A, D to 145th St; B, C to 135th St
Buses: Bx19, Bx33, M10, M100, M101, M11, M2, M3, M4, M5


Crystal Bonds
Parent Coordinator
Cristin Hill

What’s Special

Small, challenging school on college campus

The Downside

Cramped facilities

Our Review

The High School for Math, Science and Engineering (HSMSE) offers challenging academics in a close-knit and friendly environment. The workload can be heavy, but the schools small size, accepting atmosphere and supportive teaching staffwhich includes PhDs and trained engineershelps kids manage the pressure and stay focused in school.

Students attend classes in Baskerville Hall, a 100-year-old building on the City College campus. The basement-level entrance, dominated by air vents and large pillars, make already small classrooms feel claustrophobic. However, the cramped space is offset by students access to campus facilities. They can get lunch in the college cafeteria, hangout on the grassy quad, play sports in the campus gymnasium and have access to multiple libraries.

Although the school specializes in math and science, English and history are strong as well. Students read selections from authors such as Kafka, Chekhov, Hemingway and Thoreau in English class, take Advanced Placement English their junior year and tackle topics such as existentialism and the American short story in 12th grade. There are sophisticated reading assignments not only in English, but in history (All Quiet on the Western Front), math (Freakonomics) and biology (The Double Helix) and more.

Theres no avoiding challenging math and science at HSMSE. Students take a three-year sequence of engineering coursesDesign and Drawing, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Principles of Engineering, the latter taught as a double period course with physics. All freshmen take a double load of math. Some take algebra and geometry. Those who passed the algebra Regents in middle school take geometry and Foundation in Higher Mathematics, which delves more deeply into algebra.

Beginning junior year, students choose a concentration: engineering (taught by trained engineers), math or medical research. Some engineering students secure paid internships with City Colleges Grove School of Engineering.

Students in the math concentration compete on the math team and tackle college-level courses, such as statistics, by the 11th grade. By senior year, many take Advanced Placement Calculus BC and all take Advanced Topics, which covers graph, number and game theory as well Maple programming, computer language for mathematical computation.

Only a small group of students are admitted to the medical research program, which offers lab experience and research opportunities that far exceed anything offered in a typical high school science class. Run in partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, students take courses such as bioethics, physiology and anatomy, and travel regularly to the medical center where they participate in laboratory and clinical internships.

Classes in core subjectsmath, science, English and historymeet for 90 minutes on alternate days, which allows teachers time to incorporate lots of discussion and projects into class time. It also staggers the homework load for students. The one exception is freshmen math, which meets daily for 90 minutes because it covers two courses. Elective classes and lunch scheduled for shorter periods of 45 minutes.

Spanish is offered, as is German, the language of engineers. Not all parents agree that German is the most practical choice, but Principal Crystal Bonds calls the language a leveler, in which kids can learn and grow together. Im even learning German, said Bonds.

The school is not a pressure cooker, but students still feel the weight of challenging academics and high expectations. Weekly advisories help teachers keep tabs on students. The Freshman Academy, a year-long course focusing on study skills in the fall and research methods in the spring, helps new students acclimate to high school. Before starting this, we had a bunch of freshmen who would fail a class. Now we have few, said Bonds, whose own daughter attended Bronx High School of Science.

The versatile teaching staff offers electives like astronomy, poetry and gastronomy (where students taste prosciutto, chocolate and cheese, and report on tasting trips on their foodconsidered.com blog.). They also find ways to connect their interests to lessons in other classes. For instance in a film class, students watch Schindlers List while studying World War II in history; in art, projects are tied to what students are reading in English.

Students are surveyed to determine what elective classes and programs are scheduledsomething that helps them feel invested and happy in school, said Bonds. Because we are so rigorous, we try to do a lot of fun and relaxing things too.

An onsite mental health and wellness clinic sponsored by New York Foundling Hospital provides free counseling and resources to all HSMSE students.

Graduates have been admitted to highly selective colleges such as Brown, Columbia, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore, and Johns Hopkins. The University Michigan creates customized brochures to recruit HSMSE students to its engineering school.

Special education: Students receive supports such as testing accommodations, but there are no ICT or self-contained classes.

Admissions: Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). The school also runs STEM after school and weekend activities and SHSAT prep for District 5 middle school students. (Laura Zingmond, March 2015)

About the students

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

About the school

Shared campus?
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Metal detectors?
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


Average daily attendance
85% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
42% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
77% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
85% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
57% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
5.3 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
80% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
80% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
73% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
81% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
86% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Arts offerings

This school has 6 dedicated spaces for Dance, Music, Visual arts, and Media arts
This school has 1 licensed art teacher in Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
72% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
54% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
77% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
11% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
10% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
32% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
63% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
68% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
87% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
91% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
90% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Admissions Method: Test
Program Description

Admission to this Specialized High School is based solely on the score obtained on the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT). Students should speak to their guidance counselor in the Fall to register for the SHSAT.


Language Courses

German, Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP English, AP Environmental Science, AP German, AP World History


Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Soccer, Softball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

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