What does the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College (QHSS) specialize in? 

By Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center | Updated on January 17, 2020

Queens High School for the Sciences, otherwise known as QHSS, is yet another of the most elite high schools in New York City. Located in Jamaica, it is the only specialized high school that is in Queens. QHSS is part of a small subsection of specialized high schools that are connected to New York City’s public colleges. The school emphasizes college and career preparation, with a mission to educate “the whole child.” QHSS’s student body is diverse and comes from all over the city, although most students come from Queens. While this is a mostly STEM focused school, there is also a focus in the liberal arts.

Students are well equipped for the future after attending Queens High School for the Sciences, where they not only become masters of STEM but also learn the critical thinking skills and independence to make real, tangible changes to our society. This guide focuses on the acceptance rate, advanced courses, activities, and school performance of QHSS. We will also discuss the competitions and rankings of the school. Read on to learn more about what makes Queens High School for the Sciences so special and why so many students want to go there.

Acceptance Rate and Cutoff Scores

Queens High School for the Sciences is one of the “less difficult” specialized high schools to gain admission to, as its cutoff score on the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT) is the third lowest. However, there is nothing easy about getting into QHSS. Students should not underestimate a lower cutoff score without taking the exam first. For eighth graders, the cutoff score for Queens High School for the Sciences is 514 and for ninth graders, the cutoff score is in a range above 544-554. Each year, of 30,000 hopeful students who take the SHSAT, only 100 students are admitted. This small school size makes it more difficult to gain entrance to QHSS, with an acceptance rate of 0.33%.

For ninth graders, three students out of 3,000 make it to QHSS, at an acceptance rate of 0.1%. These are very slim chances, and there are about 168 applicants per seat at QHSS. Let that sink in. If you are applying to QHSS, you must beat over 168 other students in order to gain admittance to the school. That might sound difficult or downright impossible, but it is definitely not. If you are a dedicated student, there is no doubt that you can get into QHSS and thrive there as a student.

Advanced Courses

Queens High School for the Sciences creates many opportunities for its students to take charge of their future and take very advanced coursework even as high school students. By being in a diverse environment where students hail from Bangladesh, Korea, China, many Latin American countries, and more, allows students to engage in new thought processes that are the result of being stimulated by difference. Students can gain knowledge in a very diverse range of subjects as well, allowing them the independence to create and facilitate their own learning experiences. Students have the opportunity to take many Advanced Placement courses, such as Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Macroeconomics, Physics, and Statistics. They are also able to choose between taking Mandarin or Spanish language courses.

With such a small class-size, teachers are able to afford extra attention to individual students, allowing for a more conducive learning experience. While the school does not have the largest selection of AP courses, students are still able to engage in advanced coursework due to the rigorous nature of the normal school curriculum as well as its connection with the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Students can take College Now courses at York College, with course offerings varying from year to year. The most common course offerings are Psychology, Sociology, Biology/Genetics, Nutrition & Health, Pre-Calculus, Cultural Diversity, and Computer Science. With such an extensive range of disciplines covered academically, students find themselves fulfilled, although they can supplement their learning with a number of other activities.


At QHSS, students are lucky to be able to enter science, mathematics, and technology competitions not only within the school but also at the city, regional, and national levels. The school boasts a very strong Debate Team, which competes against other high schools in the city and has a very strong record. Queens High School for the Sciences also has a very comprehensive and impressive science research program called the Joule Program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and allows students to get more involved with research by providing them with mentors and laboratory experiences.

The school also has a number of science research clubs which encourage participation in the STEM field for all students. Some students go on to participate in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which emphasizes the importance of searching for knowledge. There are many competitions that students can join at QHSS and beyond, allowing them to more clearly understand what it is that they hope to study in college.


There are many other student activities at QHSS that allow students to get involved outside of the classroom. There is an Amnesty International chapter that provides students with the opportunity to give back to their local and international community, as well as the ARISTA honors society which recognizes academic excellence. Furthermore, there is an anime club, a basketball club, a beadwork club, a dance club, a digital photography club, knitting club, a K-POP club, a sigma sorority, and a music performance club.

An important club at the school is No Place for Hate, which emphasizes the importance of multiple perspectives on a high school campus. There are also a number of sports teams at QHSS. Girl’s teams include bowling and swimming. Boy’s teams include bowling, handball, swimming, and tennis. There are also NCAA cleared school sports like bowling, dance, handball, swimming, and tennis. It is important to remember that QHSS is small; rather than having a multitude of activities that no one is actually interested in, the school administration has opted to host student activities that are popular and wanted amongst the students. Activities are a crucial part of student life at Queens High School for the Sciences.


Students at Queens High School for the Sciences consistently have excellent academic and attendance records. 100% of students who attend QHSS graduate within the four years, with no academic change in progression, and 91% enroll in college or career programming within six months of graduation. In addition, attendance is at a high 97%. SAT and Regents scores at QHSS are much higher than at the surrounding high schools. With a small school size of just 473, there are so many reasons to attend QHSS. This guide is meant to help you get there. Academic performance, activities, and research are just some of the best perks of QHSS.


Rankings are important, and QHSS has shown a high ranking every time it is evaluated. The school is ranked #62 nationally, #8 in New York State, and #11 in the New York metropolitan area. Furthermore, it is ranked #164 of all STEM High Schools. The school is very academically rigorous, and its rankings show just that. Attending QHSS is a feat that not many can pull off, but with the knowledge you’ve gained from reading this guide, hopefully you can be one of those students!

To get into Queens High School for the Sciences, you should maintain a strict regimen and study plan. The school is ranked so high for a reason, and it is not possible to get in without hard work and the best resources. We at Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center have over ten years of experience getting students like you into specialized high schools, including QHSS. We have the best tools for you, from our ultimate preparatory books to our effective SHSAT classes and masterful private tutors, we can support you on your journey to QHSS.
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