Types of Schools in Boston
- Download this resource as PDF in English here.
- To download this information in your native language, use your browser to print this page.
- View our complete School Registration Toolkit for Families.
As a family in Boston, you have over 200 school options available to you within the City of Boston alone. This Resource Guide explains each type of school available to your family, including options outside of the City of Boston. You can apply to as many different types of schools as you like, but there is no single way to apply to every school; each type of school — and even some individual schools within each type — has different processes.
Boston Public Schools (BPS)
Also known as "district schools" or "BPS," Boston Public Schools is the free public school district for the City of Boston. There are more than 125 BPS schools in Boston. BPS schools serve students in grades K0 to K2 (ages 3 to 5 years old) through grade 12 and beyond.
There are many types of schools and programs within BPS, including pilot and exam schools, Horace Mann "in-district" charter schools, and programs such as Advanced Work Class and Education for All. Visit our BPS Resource Guide to learn more.
Click here to view our School Profiles for all BPS schools with our School Finder Tool.
Commonwealth Charter Public Schools
Also known simply as “charter schools,” there are 16 Commonwealth charter public school campuses in Boston. These schools are free and open to the public. Interested students can apply to any or all 16 charter schools at the same time via the Boston Charter Public School application. Placement into these charter schools is determined by lottery at each school.
Visit our charter schools Resource Guide to learn more.
- Click here to view our School Profiles for Commonwealth Charter Public Schools with our School Finder Tool.
Private Religious-Affiliated Schools
Also known as "parochial schools," Boston has a number of private religious-affiliated schools, including a large number of Catholic schools. While private religious-affiliated schools cost money to attend, many of these schools offer financial aid and/or scholarships to students. Some Catholic schools are free or offer subsidized, income-dependent tuition. Each individual private school has its own separate admissions process and requires its own separate application. There is no common application for private schools in Boston.
Visit our private schools Resource Guide to learn more.
Click here to view our School Profiles for private religious-affiliated schools with our School Finder Tool.
Private Independent Schools
Also known simply as “private schools,” many of these schools cost money to attend; most offer financial aid or scholarships to students while some private schools are free to attend. Each individual private school has its own separate admissions process and requires its own separate application. There is no common application for private schools in Boston.
Visit our private schools Resource Guide to learn more.
Click here to view our School Profiles for private independent schools with our School Finder Tool.
Other School Options Beyond Boston
In addition to the types of schools listed above, there are several school options available to your family both within and beyond the city limits of Boston.
METCO is a free program where Boston students travel to public schools across more than 30 partnering cities and towns outside of the city of Boston. Acceptance into the METCO program is determined by lottery. Families interested in being considered for the METCO program must complete the METCO application form online.
Visit our METCO Resource Guide to learn more.
For a complete list of participating partner districts, please visit the METCO website.
Career/Vocational Technical Education Schools & Programs
Also collectively called “voc-tech” schools and programs for short, career/vocational schools and programs provide students with an education in a specific skill or trade for careers in such fields as agriculture, cosmetology, electric, plumbing, etc. These programs may be at standalone schools or campuses, or may be included as a separate educational track at existing public school districts within Massachusetts.
Visit the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website for a list of Career/Vocational Technical Education Schools and Programs in Massachusetts. Select "Ch. 74 Career/Voc Tech Education" from the "Type(s)" dropdown and click "Get Results" to see the full list of schools.
For more information, please visit the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Career/Vocational Technical Education webpage.
Massachusetts Commonwealth Charter Public Schools
In addition to the 16 Commonwealth charter schools within the city of Boston, Boston residents are welcome to enter the lottery for any of the more than 80 Commonwealth charter schools across the state. These schools are free and open to the public. Commonwealth charter schools outside of the Boston Public Charter Schools each have their own enrollment applications and deadlines. There is often preference based on neighborhood, but all Commonwealth charter schools have a lottery for which anyone can sign up.
Visit the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website for a list of all Massachusetts Commonwealth charter public schools.
For more information, please visit the Massachusetts Public Charter School Association website.
Inter-District School Choice
Some school districts allow children outside their boundaries to attend their schools through the inter-district school choice program. Parents are required to apply to each school district separately, and transfers are not guaranteed. Children who attend schools outside their home districts through the inter-district school choice program do not get free transportation. As of 2019, 170 school districts across the state participate in the program.
Visit our How to Transfer to a Different School District Resource Guide to learn more and to view a full list of participating school districts accepting students from outside their district.
For additional information about Inter-District Choice, please visit the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Choosing a School Guide.
Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science
Also known as “Mass Academy,” this school is located in Worcester, Massachusetts and is affiliated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Mass Academy is a free, co-educational, public school of excellence that enrolls approximately 100 academically-accelerated 11th and 12th grade students from across Massachusetts. Students take rigorous classes at WPI to prepare them for college academics before they graduate high school.
For more information about its program and how to apply, please visit the Mass Academy website.
Greater Commonwealth Virtual School (GCVS)
Greater Commonwealth Virtual School—also known simply as GCVS—is a free, virtual public school that offers K-12 education completely online. GCVS provides students of all abilities with the flexibility of an online curriculum that lets them learn from home while meeting all of the education standards of Massachusetts, under the guidance of state-certified teachers who are trained and have experience teaching in virtual school environments.
For more information about enrollment, please visit the Greater Commonwealth Virtual School website.
TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School (TECCA)
TEC Connections Academy Virtual School—also known simply as TECCA—is a free, virtual public school that offers K-12 education completely online. TECCA provides students a quality online alternative to the traditional classroom by providing a supportive, individualized program of study; effective instruction; engaging learning experiences; and diverse curriculum offerings to stimulate curiosity, advance personal growth, and promote academic achievement.
For more information about enrollment, please visit the TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School website.
Home Schooling: Educating Your Child at Home
In Massachusetts, families may provide an education for their children at home—separate and independent of any public or private school. This is known as “home schooling.” When you choose to home school your child, the home schooling program (also known as an education plan) must be approved in advance by the superintendent or school committee of the home district. For Boston residents, this means your child's education plan must be submitted to and approved by Boston Public Schools' Office of Expanded Learning Opportunities.
- For more information about home schooling requirements for families, please visit this Home Schooling Quick Start Guide from the Massachusetts Home Learning Association (MHLA). The MHLA is a non-profit advocacy and education organization which endorses home learning as an alternative to public or private schooling.
- For more information about starting the home schooling application process in Boston, please visit the Homeschooling page at the Office of Expanded Learning Opportunities at the BPS website. If you have additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a Question?
Our experts will provide you with the right information to find the best school