Upper School

Advancing Critical Thinking Since 1878

Upper School students excel

Our Upper School students take ownership of the learning process, accepting challenges and harnessing their passions to craft an educational experience that’s designed to make the most of everything they have to offer. In this exceptional four-year program, students continue building core academic skills, evolving their studies into a customized academic program comprising highly personalized electives. As a result, our students control their academic destiny and ultimately thrive at the country’s top universities and beyond.

The Liggett Approach In Upper School


In “Origins of Civilization'' Students Explore What is the Nature of Humankind? and Why do Humans Engage in Civilization? Throughout the Class

The Ligg (Non-fiction Writing) Reporters Undergo Full Newsroom Editorial Process, Led by Students

Students research and design a project about contemporary women who challenge social paradigms after reading ”Joan Of Arc & the Hundred Years War: Modern Joans”

Any changes to the curriculum are based on credible research. For example, when designing the Academic Research Program, department chairs met with researchers from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to develop the framework. These same researchers provided constructive feedback throughout the first year of the program

Academic Research Program, Where Students Engage in Four Years of Choice-Driven Research

Trigonometry students calculated the angle of an upper school ramp and provided school administration with mathematical solutions to make the ramp ADA-compliant

More to Explore @ Upper School

Academic Research Program

Celebration of Research

All students take tests. At Liggett, our students take a four-year journey of discovery that invites them to engage more fully with their world. The Academic Research Program starts with a student’s passion and culminates in three semesters of intense investigation that leads to new questions and ultimately lean into a distinct area of study. These projects take our students from the head of the class to the forefront of innovative thinking, their projects often having reach and impact outside our own school.

Since its inception in 2013, projects have included looking at models of renewable energy for the city of Detroit; examining treatments for multiple sclerosis; investigating how “buy local” marketing campaigns can impact urban neighborhoods; researching the factors that would determine the success of the fledgling National Women’s Soccer League; exploring race-related factors that affect breast cancer rates in the United States; looking at how the black market for ivory in China affects elephant poaching in Africa and the potential for harvested rainwater to charge cell phones. They’ve even taken place on the Broadway stage!

The Celebration of Research caps off the project for seniors as they showcase their work and reach the end of their University Liggett School academic journey.

Explore The Academic Research Program

Course Selection 

Student teacher interaction

We offer guidance through the course selection and scheduling process to help students create the best balance of courses and extracurricular activities. For younger students, exploration of broad themes and essential questions build the foundation for later studies. We ask our older students to consider a concentration, an area of strong interest that they can use as a platform for in-depth study.

Students have the opportunity to pursue their passions with challenging electives like Forensics and Biotechnology, World War I, History of Math, Science Fiction and Popular Imagination, Literary Topics in Spanish and Digital Imaging: Photography Publications. 

Upper School Course Descriptions

College Guidance that helps Students Find a Purpose and Place in the world

University Liggett School’s comprehensive and personalized college guidance program provides unmatched attention to each student’s needs and interests. Our goal is to provide each student and his or her family with the assistance they need to successfully complete the college planning, application, and admissions processes...and proceed to an exciting academic career at a college or university that gives them an opportunity to accomplish amazing things.

With one counselor for every 35 students, our staff spends focused time building one-on-one relationships, stimulating our students’ curiosities and helping them identify what life beyond Liggett has in store for them.


  • Provide support and guidance to families
  • Know each student well so that we can advocate based on individual strengths
  • Compose personal and detailed recommendations
  • Track each student’s interests and applications
  • Give insights on admissions, testing, financial aid, etc.
  • Conduct college application workshops for students and parents.
  • College athletics support


  • More than 90% of our seniors are offered admission to their top choice university, including many of the finest institutions in the world.
  • On average our students receive more than $4M in Merit Scholarships 
  • Average 8.44 completed applications per student
  • Almost 20 graduates per year attending the University of Michigan

College Matriculation List >

Student Immersion

10th grade Washington DC trip

Whether it’s a trip across the globe or the chance to explore Detroit immigrant communities through food, our Upper School students learn by experiencing the topics they are exploring.

From a three-day retreat at Camp Tamarack or excursions for our language students extending across oceans when they travel abroad to live the cultures they’ve learned about, the doors to the world are thrown wide open, literally. Closer to home,” History Through the Lens of Detroit,” takes students on monthly visits to local sites as part of a nationally recognized educational program.

Clubs, Co-Curriculars & Athletics

US Robotics World Champions 2022

One of the tenants of The Liggett Approach is: Student interests and passions are cultivated and encouraged. Choice is a pathway to engagement. This is why our vast array of clubs are all completely student-initiated and run; they range from fishing and pickleball to community service, leadership to arts and crafts, pep, and esports to 4A, WAC and Spectrum. Co-curricular opportunities entail athletic teams, the Liggett Players, robotics team, ethics bowl, and sports managers. We have something for everyone.

Test your limits. Pursue your passion. Belong to a team that belongs to everyone. Participating in University Liggett School athletics offers the chance to fiercely compete, boldly lead and revel in the thrill of victory while facing the region’s most competitive independent schools. We want you on our team! 

Learn more about Athletics >

The Lambrequin was developed to showcase students' talents in Liggett's Upper School and to provide an outlet for students to express themselves through visual art, photography, poetry, short stories, and music.

Learn more about Lambrequin > 

The Liggett Players is a co-curricular activity for students interested in theatre. Students who participate with the Players are highly encouraged to participate in crew calls, as ushers, and concession sales, in addition to performing in the fall play and spring musical. Students who actively participate in productions for season credit earn points towards
membership in the Educational Theatre Association’s International Thespian Society.

Learn more about the Arts at ULS > 

The Upper School robotics team, Knightvision 3175, was established in 2010 by two ULS faculty members, one of whom is the current head mentor, Kim Galea. Initially, this small yet formidable group convened in the school’s chemistry room, then transitioned to the library and a closet before securing a larger, dedicated build space in McCann Ice Arena.

Throughout its journey, Knightvision has been part of the victorious alliance at the District level in three different seasons. Additionally, the team has secured the Chairman's Award in 2017, 2021, and 2022. Knightvision boasts four appearances at the Michigan District State Championship and has participated in the World Championships three times, triumphing as World Champions in 2022.

Learn more about robotics at ULS > 

Shernaz Minwalla
Head of Upper School

Matt Lapolla

Matt Lapolla
Upper School Dean of Students