The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
University of Chicago wordmark.svg
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools exterior.jpg
1362 E. 59th St.

United States
Coordinates41°47′19″N 87°35′38″W / 41.7886°N 87.5940°W / 41.7886; -87.5940Coordinates: 41°47′19″N 87°35′38″W / 41.7886°N 87.5940°W / 41.7886; -87.5940
TypePrivate Secondary
FounderJohn Dewey
DirectorVictoria Jueds
GradesNursery (age 3)–12
Number of students2,161 (2018–19)[1]
NicknameLab, Lab schools, U-High (high school only)
NewspaperU-High Midway
YearbookU-Highlights Yearbook
Nursery, Half Day - $26,172
Nursery, Full Day-Grade 5 - $36,384
Grades 6-8 - $38,850
Grades 9-12 - $40,488[2]
Tuition for children of faculty is half of listed amounts.

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (also known as Lab or Lab Schools and abbreviated as UCLS though the high school is nicknamed U-High) is a private, co-educational day Pre-K and K-12 school in Chicago, Illinois. It is affiliated with the University of Chicago. Almost half of the students have a parent who is on the faculty or staff of the University.[3]


The Laboratory Schools were founded by American educator John Dewey in 1896 in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. Calvin Brainerd Cady was director of the music department under Dewey.[4] The school began as a progressive educational institution that goes from nursery school through 12th grade.

The school was an attempt to create a unified school system from the kindergarten to university. Managed by the University's Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Education, it served as a laboratory to test hypotheses and build on the knowledge about education because John Dewey, who became head of the department in 1894, wanted to test certain ideas of his.[5]


The Laboratory Schools consists of two interrelated campuses. The Historic Campus, located at 1362 East 59th Street, fills two full city blocks. It houses grades 3–12 (about 1,200 students) in five connected buildings: Blaine Hall (built in 1903), Belfield Towers (1904), Judd Hall (1931), the high school (built in 1960), the middle school (1993), and Gordon Parks Arts Hall (2015) which has 100 classrooms. Two connected gymnasiums also sit on this campus, Sunny Gym (built in 1929) and Kovler Gymnasium (built in 2000) and students have access to both Scammon Garden and Jackman Field. Kovler Gymnasium contains two basketball courts, named "Upper" and "Lower" Kovler gyms.

The Laboratory schools are renowned around Hyde Park and Chicago for their exemplification of Modern Gothic style architecture.

In September 2013, Lab opened Earl Shapiro Hall on its new Early Childhood Campus located at 5800 S. Stony Island Avenue. This new building, designed by Valerio Dewalt Train and FGM Architects, is home to approximately 625 children in nursery through second grade. The building is named for Earl Shapiro, who graduated from Lab in 1956.

In 2018, artificial turf was installed on Jackman Field, and a jogging track and improved lighting were added.[6] In 2019, Lab renovated a number of its athletic facilities including its natatorium and locker rooms.

Student body and academics

Laboratory Schools
Laboratory Schools

The school has over 2,160 students in total from Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 12.

Today the school is divided into a Nursery School (Pre-K and Kindergarten), Primary School (grades 1 and 2), Lower School (grades 3 through 5), Middle School (grades 6 through 8), and High School (grades 9 through 12). Many children begin in nursery school and continue through their high school graduation, and 75% of applications are for nursery school or 9th grade.[citation needed] The student/teacher ratio is 8:1.[7]

According to the 2021 Lab Student Wellness Survey, 48% of girls and 25% of boys, for a total of 37% of students, identify as part of the LGBTQ community.[8]

The high school was ranked fourth in the nation for its record of sending graduates to elite universities and colleges.[9] From 2012–2016, some of the colleges at which U-High students matriculated were: University of Chicago (71 students), New York University (20 students), Northwestern University (19 students), Yale University (15 students), Stanford University (11 students), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (9 students), Brown University (9 students), Johns Hopkins University (9 students), Princeton University (7 students), Columbia University (7 students), and Harvard University (3 students). For the class of 2018, forty-nine percent of Lab students attended top-25 institutions across the country.

U-High offers more than 150 different classes. All are college preparatory in nature and there are more than 30 Advanced Placement or Advanced Topic courses.[10] High school students may also qualify to take classes at the University of Chicago at no extra charge, and about 20 do so each year. The average composite ACT score is 31.5.[11] The school maintains four separate libraries[12] which collectively hold over 110,000 volumes.

Extracurricular activities

High school students may choose from 40+ different clubs and activities. The high school math, science, and Model UN teams are regular contenders for – and winners of – state titles. The school's newspaper/website, The U-High Midway,[13] and the yearbook, U-Highlights, regularly win state and national awards, as does its arts magazine, Renaissance. Other popular activities include theater, identity and affinity clubs, Student Council, policy debate, and Model UN. The Model UN team is consistently ranked among the top in the nation, and is world-renowned for its competitive excellence.[14] In 2011, it was ranked the #2 High School Model UN team in the United States.[15] In 2018, Lab's Model UN team won the Best Large Delegation award at the Harvard Model UN conference. In addition, the Debate Team has won numerous national circuit tournaments. Furthermore, U-High's Math and Science teams consistently win and place at Regional and State competitions, respectively. Lab also has an award winning FIRST Robotics Competition team, which has completed internationally, two award winning FIRST Tech Challenge teams which have competed nationally, and multiple award winning FIRST LEGO League teams.

Organized by the Office of Alumni Relations Development, members of the student body at U-High are nominated by faculty to serve in the Maroon Key Society. The Maroon Key Society serve as[16] ambassadors for the school, and they help provide tours to visiting alumni, potential students, and other guests to the school.

The high school's extracurricular activities occasionally make national and international news. For example, in 1990 then-Governor Thompson declared a "Matthew Headrick Day"[17][18] and the US House made a proclamation[17] when then-student Headrick appeared on talk shows including Today[17][19] after winning the Westinghouse.[20][21] In response to the award, the Chicago Tribune wrote: "this ... is a ... school where being on the math team ... can actually enhance one's social status."[22] The Tribune's coverage was controversial because, as noted previously, U-High's extracurricular activities, including the math team, operate on a "no cut policy," and therefore participation was unlikely to confer social status. The faculty responded by posting a banner that humorously read: "The Few. The Proud. The U-High Math Team. Conferring social status since 1990."[23]

The Finance Club was founded in 2015 with more than $100,000 of donated funds to invest.[24]

Notable alumni and people

The Laboratory Schools have been home to many famous individuals, including the Obama family.

Main article: List of University of Chicago Laboratory Schools people


The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools offers a number of different athletic programs for both boys and girls, divided into three categories for Fall (cross country, golf, sailing, boys soccer, girls swimming/diving, girls tennis, and volleyball), Winter (basketball, dance troupe, fencing, squash, boys swimming/diving, and indoor track) and Spring (baseball, fencing, sailing, girls soccer, boys tennis, and track and field).[25] The lower and primary school operates under a strict resistance training regimen to develop the strength required to do these activities early. Freshman, sophomore, and junior varsity squads at U-High operate with a "no cut policy," meaning any student who wishes to participate on that level may, and nearly 65% of U-Highers participate on at least one team. The school's athletic teams, the Maroons, compete in the Independent School League (ISL) and are members of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

The 2019 boys soccer team won the IHSA 1A state championship.[26]

The 2019 girls tennis team won the IHSA 1A state championship, becoming the first U-High girls team to win a state championship.[27] The 2021 girls tennis team was also 1A state champion.[28]

The boys basketball team, under ISL Coach of the Year Andre Battle, were 2022 IHSA Regional Champions.

Judd Hall as visible from the adjacent Charles M. Harper Center.
Judd Hall as visible from the adjacent Charles M. Harper Center.

Notable teachers

Here are a few of the teachers who have worked at Lab:


Lab classrooms are visited by teachers and administrators who wish to experience the way Lab teachers integrate Dewey’s philosophy into their classroom experience.

Lab classrooms are consistently ranked to be among the top classrooms of U.S. high schools. According to junior students, the facilities "facilitate an effective learning environment."


  1. ^ "Facts at a Glance – University of Chicago Laboratory Schools".
  2. ^ "Tuition – University of Chicago Laboratory Schools".
  3. ^ "FAQs – University of Chicago Laboratory Schools". Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  4. ^ Shiraishi, Fumiko. "Calvin Brainerd Cady: Thought and Feeling in the Study of Music." Journal of Research in Music Education; Summer 1999; 47, 2; ProQuest Research Library. 150.
  5. ^ Mayhew & Edwards, 1966
  6. ^ Costello, Mira. "With soccer game, restored Jackman Field makes debut Saturday". U-High Midway. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  7. ^ "Facts at a Glance – University of Chicago Laboratory Schools". Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  8. ^ Ingersoll, Julian. "Throughout pandemic, students explore LGBTQ+ identity". U-High Midway. Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  9. ^ The Wall Street Journal, "How the Schools Stack Up,"
  10. ^ "Program of Studies University High School: 2022-2023" (PDF). University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. January 2022. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  11. ^[dead link]
  12. ^ "Libraries – University of Chicago Laboratory Schools".
  13. ^ "Awards & Recognition". U-High Midway. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  14. ^ The Diplomat, Issue #335, May 5, 2010, University of Chicago Press.
  15. ^ America's Best High School Model UN Teams: 1-5. Best Delegate,
  16. ^ Knoll, M. (2014) Laboratory School, University of Chicago. In D. C. Phillips (ed) Encyclopaedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy, Vol. 2 (London: Sage), pp. 455–458.
  17. ^ a b c "Students Hail The Conquering Scientist". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  18. ^ "Illinois Register, 14: Issue 45 – November 9, 1990, Volume 14, Page 106 | Document Viewer". Mocavo. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  19. ^ Gumbel, Bryant (March 7, 1990). "Westinghouse Science Project Winners Discuss Their Project (audiovisual file)". NBC News Today Show. Today New York Studio. Archived from the original on 2016-01-05. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  20. ^ "EDUCATION; From Nitrogen Fixation To a $20,000 Scholarship". The New York Times. 1990-03-07. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  21. ^ "All Students Need State-of-the-art Science Education". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  22. ^ "Teenage Science Whiz Captures A National Honor". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  23. ^ "Westinghouse Competition Media Coverage". U-High Midway Student Newspaper. March 1990.
  24. ^ "U-High Midway" (PDF). U-High Midway. April 14, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  25. ^ "Teams & Schedules - University of Chicago Laboratory Schools". Retrieved 2022-02-26.
  26. ^ Edwards-Levin, Nicky. "Boys soccer team places first at state". U-High Midway. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  27. ^ Matzke, Audrey. "Girls tennis team celebrates historic state championship". U-High Midway. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  28. ^ Unni, Sahana. "Girls tennis wins state championship". U-High Midway. Retrieved 2022-05-03.