The Bay Area is home to an extraordinary number of excellent private schools. Whether you are looking for a school in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, or anywhere in between, there is no shortage of terrific options. Of course, your decision-making process will need to balance your teen’s academic, emotional, and social needs with financial and logistical considerations. College Transitions’ list of the Best Bay Area private schools will focus primarily on our area of expertise—college admissions. As such, we will highlight the job that each of the schools fares at sending their graduates on to the region/nation’s premier 4-year schools.

The following list is not representative of any type of ranking system, but rather, is simply intended to provide prospective students and their parents with a detailed overview of each school. All of the schools profiled below have a history of sending graduates to the top colleges in the country. For each of the 10 best private high schools in the Bay Area, College Transitions will provide you with each school’s:

  • Location
  • Tuition (9-12)
  • Enrollment (9-12)
  • Average SAT Score
  • Average ACT Score
  • Senior Class Size
  • College Admissions Highlights
  • Academic Highlights

Without further ado, let’s look at the ten best private schools in the Bay Area.

Bellarmine College Preparatory

Location: 960 W Hedding St, San Jose, CA

Tuition (9-12): $24,890

Enrollment (9-K-12): 1,648

Average SAT Score: 1323

Average ACT Score: 30

College Admissions Highlights:

2021 graduates are now attending all of the UC institutions, Boston College, Georgetown, Pomona, Amherst, Brown, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, MIT, University of Michigan, UVA, Williams, and Yale.

Academic Highlights:

  • In 2021, the school produced 16 National Merit Semifinalists and 41 Commended Scholars.
  • 99% immediately enrolled in a 4-year college.
  • 55% of AP test-takers score a 4 or 5.
  • They offer 19 AP courses as well as 11 Honors courses.
  • 50% attend college out-of-state.

Castilleja School

Location: 1310 Bryant St, Palo Alto

Tuition (9-12): $56,500

Enrollment (9-12): 238

Average SAT Score: 1460

Average ACT Score: 33

College Admissions Highlights:

In 2022 alone, graduates went on to enroll in Boston College, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, NYU, Northwestern, Pomona, Princeton, Stanford, Tufts, UChicago, Penn, USC, and Yale.

Academic Highlights:

  • This is an all-girls institution.
  • 80% of faculty possess advanced degrees.
  • The average class size is 14.
  • 78% score a 4 or 5 on AP tests.
  • The median unweighted GPA is 3.93.

Crystal Springs Uplands School

Location: 400 Uplands Dr, Hillsborough

Tuition (9-12): $56,620

Enrollment (6-12): 569

Average SAT Score: 1442

Average ACT Score: 33

College Admissions Highlights:

Over the last four years, college acceptances include Amherst, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Colby, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Macalester, MIT, Middlebury, NYU, Northwestern, Pomona, Rice, Stanford, Swarthmore, Tufts, UChicago  USC, Wesleyan, and Yale.

Academic Highlights:

  • This school has only a 22% acceptance rate.
  • The average teacher has 17 years of experience.
  • The average class size is 14 students.
  • 82% of the faculty hold advanced degrees.
  • 9:1 student-to-teacher ratio.

Head-Royce School

Location: 4315 Lincoln Ave, Oakland

Tuition (9-12): $51,000

Enrollment (9-12): 385

Average SAT Score: Not Reported

Average ACT Score: Not Reported

College Admissions Highlights:

In one recent five-year stretch, the following number of students enrolled in prominent universities: UCLA (17), USC (15), Northeastern (13), WashU (11), Emory (11), Claremont McKenna (10), Brown (9), UChicago (9), Penn (7), and UMich (7).

Academic Highlights:

  • 83% of faculty members hold advanced degrees.
  • They offer a 4-year computer science curriculum.
  • 60% consider themselves students of color.
  • The average teacher has 12 years of experience.
  • The Class of 2022 included 6 National Merit Semifinalists

Menlo School

Location: 50 Valparaiso Ave, Atherton

Tuition (9-12): $55,900

Enrollment (9-12): 537

Average SAT Score: 1447

Average ACT Score: 33

College Admissions Highlights:

Over the last four years, students have gone on to enter some of the nation’s top colleges including Bates (4), Brown (7), Cornell (10), Duke (12), Harvard (6), Northwestern (10), Princeton (5), Stanford (23), UC Berkeley (15), UCLA (11), Penn (6), USC (5), Wake Forest (6), WashU (9), Williams (3), and Yale (5).

Academic Highlights:

  • The Class of 2023 included 12 National Merit Semifinalists.
  • 75% of teachers hold advanced degrees.
  • The average GPA earned is 3.81.
  • 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio.
  • 40 advanced courses are offered.

The Branson School

Location: 39 Fernhill Ave, Ross

Tuition (9-12): $55,970

Enrollment (seniors): 73

Mid-50% SAT Score: 1340-1510

Mid-50% ACT Score: 30-34

College Admissions Highlights:

Two or more students from the Classes of 2020-2022 went on to matriculate into UCLA (13), Stanford (11), Brown (9), Middlebury (9), Tufts (8), UC Berkeley (6), Penn (5), WashU (5), Duke (5), Dartmouth (4), Georgetown (4), NYU (4), and Yale (3).

Academic Highlights:

  • 42% are students of color.
  • 7:1 student-to-teacher ratio.
  • The average class size is 13.
  • Most faculty members earned advanced degrees.
  • Admission is highly-selective.

The College Preparatory School

Location: 6100 Broadway, Oakland

Tuition (9-12): $51,990

Enrollment (9-12): 370

Average SAT Score: 1513

Median ACT Score: 34

College Admissions Highlights:

The most popular destinations for recent graduates (2018-22) include: UChicago (42), Georgetown (14), Tulane (14), NYU (13), UCLA (13), Northwestern (12), BU (11), Stanford (10), Duke (9), Carleton (8), Harvard (8), and Penn (8),

Academic Highlights:

  • An incredible 43% of the Class of 2022 received National Merit recognition.
  • 60% of students play team sports.
  • The average class size is 14 students.
  • 86% of teachers have advanced degrees.
  • 69% of students identify as students of color.

The Harker School

Location: 4525 Union Ave, San Jose

Tuition (9-12): $56,650

Enrollment (seniors): 192

Average SAT Score: 1498

Average ACT Score: 33

College Admissions Highlights:

From 2020-2022, numerous grads have attended USC (28), Stanford (27), CMU (26), UC Berkeley (20), UCLA (18), UMich (17), Columbia (15), Penn (13), Harvard (12), and WashU (10).

Academic Highlights:

  • 15 computer science programs are offered.
  • 92% scored a 4 or better on AP tests.
  • 28 AP courses are offered.
  • There are 67 National Merit Semifinalists in this year’s class.
  • The mean GPA was 4.12 in the Class of 2023.

The Nueva School

Location:  6565 Skyline Boulevard, Hillsborough

Tuition (9-12): $55,750

Enrollment (seniors): 114

Mid-50% SAT Score: 1480-1570

Mid-50% ACT Score: 33-35

College Admissions Highlights:

Multiple students from 2017-2021 matriculated into Stanford (45), UChicago (28), UC Berkeley (16), Tufts (12), Brown (11), UMich (9), Princeton (8), Columbia (7), Northwestern (7), Carnegie Mellon (7), Penn (7), Yale (6), MIT (6), Olin College of Engineering (5), and Wellesley (5).

Academic Highlights:

  • 57% are students of color.
  • The average class size is 16 students.
  • 6:1 student-to-teacher ratio.
  • 100% are admitted to 4-year colleges.
  • 48% of the Class of 2021 received National Merit recognition.

The Quarry Lane School

Location: 6363 Tassajara Rd. Dublin

Tuition (9-12): $45,254

Enrollment (K-12): 950

Average SAT Score: Not Reported

Average ACT Score: Not Reported

College Admissions Highlights:

In recent years, Quarry Lane grads entered schools such as: Barnard, BU, Brown, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, UChicago, Claremont McKenna, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, UMich, NYU, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Swarthmore, the US Military Academy, WashU, and Wellesley.

Academic Highlights:

  • The average class size is 18 students.
  • 8:1 student-to-teacher ratio.
  • 25 IB and 20 AP courses are offered.
  • 70% of faculty members possess advanced degrees.
  • 36 countries are represented in the student body.

We hope you found our blog on private schools in the Bay Area to be helpful. All high school students and families may wish to explore further information regarding the college search and admissions process at our Dataverse, Blog, and List-Building Tool.