Julia R. Masterman School

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The Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School is a middle and secondary school located in Philadelphia. It is a magnet school, ranked the 4th best high school in the nation,[3] located in the Spring Garden neighborhood. Prior to 1958, the school building was used by the Philadelphia High School for Girls and the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places under that name in 1986.[4]

Julia R. Masterman School
Julia R. Masterman School in Philadelphia
1699 Spring Garden St.

Coordinates39°57′49″N 75°09′57″W / 39.9635°N 75.1657°W / 39.9635; -75.1657
TypeSpecial admission
Motto"Dare to be excellent"
PrincipalJeannine Payne
Staff54.81 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment1,197 (2017–18)[1]
Student to teacher ratio21.84[1]
Campus typeUrban (One building)
Color(s)    Blue and white
Team nameBlue Dragons
Philadelphia High School for Girls (former campus)
Julia R. Masterman School is located in Philadelphia
Julia R. Masterman School
Julia R. Masterman School is located in Pennsylvania
Julia R. Masterman School
Julia R. Masterman School is located in the United States
Julia R. Masterman School
ArchitectIrwin T. Catharine
Architectural styleClassical Revival
MPSPhiladelphia Public Schools TR
NRHP reference No.86003302[2]
Added to NRHPDecember 4, 1986

Rankings and awards


Masterman is ranked first in the School District of Philadelphia and in the state of Pennsylvania.[5] It is considered one of the best college-preparatory public schools in the country. The school has twice been named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.[6][7] U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the top public school in Pennsylvania since 1996, and 4th in the nation in 2024.[3] The acceptance rate for the middle school is approximately 7%. Acceptance for the high school is approximately 3%, making it one of the most difficult schools to get into in the country.[8]



The Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School was established in September 1958 as an academic magnet school for elementary school students in grades 4, 5 and 6. A junior high school program was initiated in 1959, and a senior high school was added in 1976. In 1990 Masterman was re-organized as a middle school (grades 5-8) and a high school (grades 9-12). Masterman is located in the former Philadelphia High School for Girls building.

Students are admitted from all areas of Philadelphia based on academic performance, and staff members are selected based on professional expertise. The high school is a preparatory school for select students of superior ability.[9]

The school was named for Julia Reynolds Masterman, who was instrumental in establishing the Philadelphia Home and School Council and served as its first president. The Masterman family still participates in school events and contributes awards at commencement.

In 2006 the district considered establishing an annex for 5th and 6th grade students to increase the school's capacity. The proposed site was Stoddard-Fleischer Middle School.[10]

In 2007, Masterman was a filming location for the 2008 M. Night Shyamalan film The Happening starring Mark Wahlberg.[11] The film shows interior shots of a science lab on the fourth floor, the auditorium, and the main corridor of the first floor hallway, along with various other shots of the school.

In 2010, President Barack Obama chose Masterman as the site of his second annual back-to-school speech, which was broadcast nationally. There, he spoke about how the core of America's future is represented by the students of this generation.[12]

President Obama giving his back to school speech at Masterman.

Jeannine Payne, who attended Masterman for middle school, was named principal in 2021.[13]

Dress code


The current dress code states that students must wear clothing which is appropriate, acceptable and not offensive in any way. [14] Jeans are allowed, but cannot be ripped in inappropriate places. Flip-flops, crop-tops, and tank tops are not allowed.[15] References to alcohol, illegal drugs, profanities, or slurs of any sort are not permitted on any personal property.

Beginning in 2001 the School District of Philadelphia required all schools to enact school uniforms or strict dress codes. To comply with the district-wide policy, the Masterman administration banned shirts with logos and emblems.[16]

Notable alumni



  1. ^ a b c "Masterman Julia R Sec Sch". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Julia R. Masterman Secondary School | U.S.News". Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  4. ^ B. Mintz, Pennsylvania Historic Resources Survey: Richardson L. Wright School. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, July 1986. Accessed 2010-09-30. To access this file type "public" as your ID and "public" as your password.
  5. ^ "Best High Schools in Pennsylvania". U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report.
  6. ^ "Microsoft Word - list-1982.doc" (PDF). 2.ed.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  7. ^ "No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program -- Schools Recognized 2003 Through 2005 (MSWord)" (PDF). 2.ed.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  8. ^ "Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School: Applying to Masterman". Mastermanschool.org. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School". Retrieved 2024-02-26.
  10. ^ "District considers a Masterman annex". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2005-03-10. p. B7. - Clipping from Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "The Happening (2008) :Locations". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  12. ^ Graham, Kristen A. (September 14, 2010). "President Obama to welcome U.S. students back to school with speech at Masterman in Philadelphia". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  13. ^ Mezzacappa, Dale (8 September 2021). "New Masterman principal wants to create more opportunities at Philadelphia's elite magnet". Chalkbeat. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  14. ^ "2023-2024 Community Handbook (FINAL 2.0).pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved 2024-02-26.
  15. ^ "Uniform Colors - The School District of Philadelphia". Phila.k12.pa.us. Archived from the original on 5 April 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  16. ^ Giordano, Rita. "Shift to mandatory dress policy fairly seamless in Phila. schools Students are nattily attired. Parents are just tired." (Archive). The Philadelphia Inquirer. September 7, 2001. Retrieved on November 28, 2015.
  17. ^ Lear, Len (July 8, 2016). "It's a puzzle; Mt. Airy youth lands unique 'dream job'". The Chestnut Hill Local. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Leila Josefowicz - Official Website". Leilajosefowicz.com. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  19. ^ Whelan, Aubrey (December 28, 2015). "Leslie Odom Jr.: Being Burr in Hamilton like falling in love". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016.
  20. ^ Iannucci, Lisa (2010). Will Smith: A Biography. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-313-37611-5.