Upper School

Students in the Detroit Country Day Upper School are part of a vibrant intellectual community. Our students encounter daily experiences that are challenging, broad, and meaningful. Graduates leave with life-lessons for which our alumni have repeatedly said sustain them throughout their lives.

The Upper School curriculum offers strong and varied classes that provide numerous opportunities for students to demonstrate their strengths and develop their potential. The comprehensive college-preparatory program, which includes Honors and Advanced Placement courses in each discipline, are designed to actively engage students in the learning process with a foundation that is EPIIC (experiential, participatory, interdisciplinary, image-rich, and connected). This core foundation is also instrumental to our students achieving academic and problem-solving independence and the key to developing ongoing relationships with faculty and peers by the dynamic classroom environment it creates.  

AP, IB, and Honors Courses

AP, IB, and Honors Courses

Students have many options to challenge themselves in areas of interest.

Diploma Designations

Three Unique Diploma Designations

We offer these diploma designations:  International Baccalaureate, Global Scholar, or Conservatory


Extracurricular clubs

The current number of clubs offered in the Upper School

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There's an adage that kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. And developing a caring environment and establishing rapport with our kids is perhaps the most important thing that we do here.
~ Tim Bearden, Upper School Director and Chief Academic Officer

Sample Courses and Curriculum Features

Math, Science, & Computer Science

We offer coursework for students at every level, including those ready for college-level challenges. Below is a sampling of some of our courses.

Multivariable Calculus

BC Calculus and departmen recommendation
This semester course in multivariable calculus uses all of the concepts taught in BC calculus in the framework of three dimensional vectors. Derivatives and integrals, as well as vector functions lead to the important Green and Stokes theorems.
Text: Caluculus: Multivariable, Stewart, James, thomson Learning, 2008.

Advanced Linear Algebra

Prerequisitie: UMA522H
This is a one-semester college level course that begins with a review of the Gram-Schmidt Process covered in MA511H. Applications explored include: vectors and rotation of objects and relations in 2- and 3-Space, solving systems of differential equations, exploring fractals defined by matrix transformation in 2- and 3- space. The full range of topics covered during the semester depends on each class’ background and experience.

Theoretical Physics I & II

BC Calculus
This class is taught in two semesters and uses advanced mathematics to explore topics in classical and relavistic mechanics, classical field theory, continuum mechanics, quantium theory, statistical mechanics and chaos and complexity theory.

Engineering I & II

Both engineering courses are taught over a sequential semester. The course emphasizes how engineering impacts the development of products used by society. The curriculum will provide the student with the task of evaluating the economic and sustainability cost/benefit issues which arise from the development of technology. Students will critically evaluate and apply engineering principles. The courses are experiential rather than a theoretical endeavor.

Introduction to Game Development

Prerequisites: BC Calculus and department recommendation
This semester course in multivariable calculus uses all of the concepts taught in BC calculus in the framework of three dimensional vectors. Derivatives and integrals, as well as vector functions lead to the important Green and Stokes theorems.

Introduction to Programming

Prerequisite: none
This course includes the design and development of World Wide Web pages using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Students will learn HTML tags for text, images, links, lists, simple layouts, complex layouts, tables, frames, styles, internal style sheets, and external style sheets. JavaScript used to make web pages interactive will also be covered.
Goals for this class include preparing students to write their own web pages to include at least html (hypertext markup language), CSS (cascading style sheets) and JavaScript.
Text: Visual Quickstart Guide: HTML5 and CSS3 (7th edition) by Elizabeth Castro and Bruce Hyslop. ISBN - 13-978-0-321-71961-4.

Humanities and History 

We offer coursework for students at every level, including those ready for college-level challenges. Below is a sampling of some of our courses.

Intro. to Linguistics: Language in the World

Prerequisite: Sophomore English, or concurrent enrollment in EN213H

Introduction to Linguistics exposes students to the richness and diversity of language through the exploration of one’s own usage, dialects, and language in the media, as well as the evolution and science of English. Studying linguistics enables students to gain a holistic understanding of the living amoeba that is language. Through an introduction to the primary subsets of linguistics, students will develop their skills as critical thinkers and analysts and will gain insight into the multifaceted and growing field of linguistics.


Intro to Theory of Knowledge

The Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge accentuates critical inquiry in the study of Ways of Knowing, pursuing such questions as, “What counts as knowledge? . . . What are its limits? Who owns knowledge? What is the value of knowledge? What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge? . . . What makes [Intro to] TOK distinctively different from standard academic disciplines is its process. At the center of the course is the student as knower, articulating perspectives such as “What do I claim to know [about x]? Am I justified in doing so [how]?” in conjunction with their own experience and “their understanding of knowledge as a human construction” (TOK Guide, March 2006, IBO).

Mythology in Literature: The Hero's Journey

In 1949, author Joseph Campbell published a work that would change the study of comparative mythology as the world knew it. Through his exploration of the “monomyth,” Campbell studied, analyzed, and argued that all mythic narratives are ultimately the same innate story. Today, we commonly refer to Campbell’s model as simply, “the hero’s journey.” This course will explore literary depictions of expeditions as both external and internal events. Through a sweeping lens that ventures across generations, genders, and genres the course will explore how an ever-changing landscape can affect our humanity.

African-American History

How did people of African descent, who were brought to this country against their will, create religious, social and political institutions and organizations that fought institutional racism?  This survey course in African-American history will begin the year with the introduction of slavery at the Jamestown settlement and end the first goal with the failure of Reconstruction. The second half of the course focuses on the nadir of race relations in the 20th century and will end the academic year with contemporary issues in the African-American community. An emphasis will be place on student-led discussion and class participation.

21st Century Global Issues

Global Issues of the 21st Century is a course that will delve into the forces shaping the future and the history of the 21st Century. Some of the topics that may be included are: urbanization, civil war, nations in transition, child labor, humanitarian intervention, global trade, weapons of mass destruction, migration, human rights, world hunger and environmental issues. We will develop a general understanding of the various topics and then investigate specific issues further through case study. For example, we will look specifically at the issue of Child Labor in India and Uganda and the impact of Urbanization in China, or the challenge of the transition to democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. This course will be discussion and activity based.

Library Services

Our Values

  We believe...
  • that intellectual freedom is a fundamental right for all
  • that literacy is an essential skill across all platforms and disciplines
  • that reading for personal information and enjoyment leads to lifelong learning
  • that respect for intellectual and creative property is everyone's responsibility
Our Mission
Teach, Inspire, Explore
Staffed with a professional librarian, the Upper School Library is designed to meet a variety of informational needs and learning styles of the students. There are places for quiet and small group study, classes and relaxed reading. The resources mirror the developing curriculum and technology components of the school.
Print and online collections are updated on a continual basis. Digital resources are available for all subject areas. The library website provides easy access to all of these resources.
The primary focus of the Library program is to collaborate with departments to support the curriculum and prepare them for research at the collegiate level. Instruction focuses on two primary areas:
  • Research skills and information literacy
  • Responsible use of resources
  • Reading for pleasure and personal learning

Language and Interdisciplinary

We offer coursework for students at every level, including those ready for college-level challenges. Below is a sampling of some of our courses.

Latin America: History, Culture & Traditions

Prerequisite: Successful completion of SP343H or teacher recommendation

This course will provide an overview of the main historical, economical, geographical, political, and cultural aspects of Latin American and the Latinos in the US. The course will start by studying first the historical and ethnic background of this region of the world in order to later on examine it present economic, cultural and socio-political condition. This course will also analyze the significant challenges and struggles that face Latin America during this era of globalization, including its relationship with the United States, examining several contemporary issues such as immigration and the role of the Latinos in the US.

Quebec: History, Culture & Traditions

Prerequisite: French Level IV + department recommendation

In this course, students will learn how Quebec became a predominantly French-speaking province in the predominantly English-speaking continent of North America. An in-depth overview of Quebec history, culture and traditions will include an overview of the French dialect in Quebec and the impact of language attitudes on the Quebec region. This class will provide students the opportunity to practice and improve their French skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) while learning the rich history and culture of Quebec.


Big Ideas

The Global Initiatives program aims to prepare students for lif with an educational experience that is beyond a desk, beyond the classroom, and beyond the wall of a single institution. It is a rigorous global studies program geared for students seeking to learn, engage, and contribute to broader, more diverse global contexts. The comprehensive program prepares students to develop as active, informed, and empathetic global citizens. 
Through three separate pathways, students have the opportunity to garner a global perspective and experience.

Personal & Business Finance

The course is designed to give students an introduction to personal and business finance and investing skills they can use for years to come. Students will explore financial career decisions, fundamentals of investing, personal financial protection and personal taxes. Another integral component of the curriculum is the application of decision-making skills that enables students to become more responsible consumers, producers, or business entrepreneurs.

Senior Project

The Senior Project has been a capstone of our students' senior year since 1968. Taking place in the month of May, the program is designed to be an educational extension of the classroom encouraging students to experience an area of interest in a real work environment.  Past projects have included public relations and marketing with professional sports team, shadowing at offices of the medical and dental profession, assisting in classrooms, working as interns at radio and tv stations, research assistant in a university's science lab, and many more. At the culmination of the project, seniors will prepare a visual representation of their project via print or digital mediums at a fair style event in June. Members of the community are then invited to attend the fair and speak with the senior about their experiences.

curriculum guide

For visual, performing, and communication arts courses visit our arts pages.

For globally focused programming, visit our Global Initiatives page.

The goals of the Upper School are to develop:

  • An enthusiastic student with a high level of intellectual curiosity and a passion for learning
  • A well-prepared student with highly developed study skills, one that can adjust to the expectations and rigors of college, career and community
  • A perceptive student with an understanding of technology and its applications to each academic discipline
  • A global student with an appreciation for different cultures and a respect for individuals
  • An ethical student with a strong sense of personal integrity and a willingness to lead
  • A healthy student with a commitment to good nutrition and physical fitness
  • A well-balanced student by addressing social and emotional wellness