Applying to a Public Charter High School

Looking for application deadlines? See 2015-16 application deadlines here.

There are two basic types of charter schools in Philadelphia. Traditional charter schools can enroll students from any part of the city, but they must use a blind lottery to fill open spots. Renaissance charter schools must enroll all students living in a designated neighborhood. TIP: Check a school's admissions policies to determine whether or not they require students to live in the catchment.

Traditional Charter Schools

After you decide which charter schools you want to apply to, the next step is to fill out a short application. Charter schools must give all students an equal chance at admission. They are not allowed to deny application or admission to students because of their grades, race, income or special needs. They are generally not allowed to make applicants take tests or go through interviews before admitting them; certain charters with specialty programs are allowed to interview.

You can get applications at each school and on most school websites. The Philadelphia Charter School Common Application (available in the applications insert in the 2014-15 GreatPhillySchools Print Guide and online at is accepted by more than 40 schools. See the full list of participating schools here.

Schools not participating in the Common Application will have their own application, available from the school directly.

Once you fill out an application, your teen will be entered into a lottery. Students selected in the lottery are offered enrollment. Students not selected are placed on a waiting list.

The exact enrollment process varies from one charter school to another. In general, most charter schools require applications to be submitted by early February and conduct their lotteries by early March. For specific deadlines and admissions information, it is important to contact each charter school directly.

Renaissance Schools

Renaissance Schools are formerly low-performing district public schools that were selected as “turnaround” schools by the School District of Philadelphia and converted into charters. Like any other charter school, Renaissance Schools operate with increased freedom.

However, like traditional public neighborhood schools, Renaissance Schools are required to enroll all students living within designated neighborhood boundaries. This is unlike traditional charter schools, which do not give preference to families living nearby.

The enrollment process for Renaissance Schools is the same as that for district schools. As of the 2014–15 school year there were three Renaissance high schools in Philadelphia. The school district’s site has a complete list of operating Renaissance charter schools.

More Information

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.