2018-19: How to Apply to a District School

  • HS Student

The School District of Philadelphia is the largest operator of schools in Philadelphia and has many great school options. View all School District of Philadelphia school profiles. Families can apply to District schools for the 2018-19 school year between September 29-November 13, 2017.


All District schools are public schools, but may have different admissions requirements depending on their type. 

Neighborhood schools

Each child has a designated neighborhood school, determined by your address. You can find your neighborhood school here.

Some neighborhood schools have extra space, which means that even if you don’t live in that neighborhood, you can still apply. The list of neighborhood schools with additional space is updated each year, based on enrollment, but there are some great District schools with additional space (especially in the middle school grades). In order to be considered for any school other than your designated neighborhood school, you must submit an application by November 13, 2017.

Citywide admission schools

These schools are open for anyone in the city to apply, though some may reserve a percentage of their seats for residents of specific zip codes. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, even though they may be housed in a high school, are considered citywide admission schools and offer a wide range of vocational courses for high school students.

Admissions requirements: Citywide admit schools set their own admission requirements (see their GreatPhillySchools profile for the most up-to-date info) but most have behavioral, attendance, and academic expectations. These are typically lower than the special admission/magnet schools and may be appropriate for a student with primarily A’s, B’s, and C’s in their most recent school year. A number of new, innovative high schools are also available for citywide admission with no academic requirements. See a full list of citywide admission requirements here.

The schools will review submitted applications, determine who fits their requirements, then run a lottery  for their available seats.

Select admission schools

These schools, also sometimes called magnet schools, set high academic and behavioral expectations for their students. Anyone in the city can apply.

Admission requirements: Each school sets their own admission requirements, but most include high percentile scores on the student's most recent standardized test scores, grades that are primarily As and Bs, an excellent attendance record, and no serious behavioral incidences.

In addition to meeting these requirements, a student may have to submit supplemental materials such as an essay or portfolio-- or complete an interview. This must be provided directly to the school. See a full list of select admission options here.


The application for the 2018-19 school year is due November 13, 2017 at 5PM. The application will open on September 29, 2017. Applications must be made online; no paper applications will be accepted.

The process is slightly different, depending on whether or not you are currently enrolled in a District school.

For students currently enrolled in a District school:

Visit schoolselect.philasd.org and click on the green “Apply Now” button. This will take you to log in with either your Student Portal or Parent & Family Portal account.

Not sure if you have an account? You can register for a Parent & Family portal account using your child’s Student ID number here. Note, this can take up to 48 hours to become active. Your student should also have a Student portal account and can log in using their Student ID number and password. Either will give you the same access to complete an application.

Click on the  “School Selection” icon.

Select your top five choices from the drop down menu and click submit. You do not need to include your neighborhood school. You should submit a single application with five school choices. Consider these tips for ranking your five schools.

(If you chose a citywide or select admission school) work with your counselor to submit any supplementary materials that may be required (i.e. an essay) to the school directly.

(If your child has an IEP, 504Plan or is receiving ESOL services) contact your school’s counselor to discuss the LeGare Advocacy Process.

Students and families can log in and make changes to their application until 5PM on November 13th-- but note that the School District will use the last modification made to a student’s application. 

For students currently enrolled in a non-District school (i.e. charter, private, Catholic, home schooled, or parents registering for Kindergarten):

Visit schoolselect.philasd.org and click on the blue “Apply Now” button.

Complete the application and select your top five choices from the drop down menu. You do not need to include your neighborhood school. In the second email address field, list your counselor so that he/she has a record of your choices and can help follow up with necessary paperwork. Consider these tips for ranking your five schools.

Click submit. Once an application is submitted, it cannot be modified. Make sure your information is correct before submitting, especially the email address you supply for contact. All notifications will be sent to this email address.

(If you chose a citywide or select admission school) work with your counselor to submit any supplementary materials that may be required (i.e. an essay) to the school directly. You will also need to provide schools with your transcripts, attendance, and behavioral records if they have such requirements.

(If your child has an IEP, 504Plan, or is receiving ESOL services) contact your school’s counselor to discuss the LeGare Advocacy Process.

IMPORTANT: If you are not currently enrolled in a District school, note that your most recently submitted application is the only application that will be considered. All previous applications will be deleted. If you have made a mistake or want to change/add to your choices, re-submit the application by November 14th at 5pm and include ALL schools you would like to apply to. 


When considering schools, many counselors advise structuring your five choices to include a “reach” school (a school whose admission requirements might be above your student’s current records), a “safety” school (a school whose admission requirements are below your student’s current records), and three “best fit” schools (schools whose admission requirements match your student’s current records.)

Select admission schools will not know how you ranked them and cannot consider this when reviewing your application. For instance, a student applying to Girls High has the same chance getting accepted if they rank the school #1 or #5. The school will review your application and decide whether or not to accept, regardless of your preference.

Citywide admission schools (lottery-based) do take into account preference.  Last year, citywide admission schools were filled primarily from students that ranked them 1-3 in their school choices. If, for instance, you prefer Central High School (a select admission school) above School of the Future (a citywide admission school that runs a lottery), it is wiser to rank SOF #1 and Central lower, to give yourself the best chance of winning the lottery. Ranking Central lower will not impact your chances of getting in.

Consider Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. CTE programs are three-year courses of study taught by experienced industry professionals, including an opportunity for students to become certified in their career of choice.

Though there are 5 CTE-focused high schools that frequently receive more applications than they have available seats, there are many programs that operate within local high schools. These vary in quality, but it’s worth noting that CTE students on the whole graduate at higher rates and report other benefits.

All CTE programs are now open for citywide admission, and many are housed in schools that may be a better fit for your student than his/her current designated school. CTE students have the same academic requirements for graduation and take classes within the high school that houses the program, in addition to completing their career-specific program.

Lastly, keep in mind that you apply for a specific program in 9th grade but will begin CTE classes in 10th grade. Learn more about CTE offerings in the 2017 Directory, available here.

For more information on Elementary & Middle School enrollment, see the School District of Philadelphia's FAQ.

For more information about all grades and resources such as the District's High School Directory, a PSSA Conversion Chart, and a list of neighborhood Elementary and Middle Schools eligible for enrollment, visit the School District's website.

Questions? Email the School District at schoolselect@philasd.org or call 215-400-4290. You can also contact info@greatphillyschools.org for general information.