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About Us

The Grauer School is an independent college preparatory school in Encinitas, CA, serving Northern San Diego and surroundings, close to the communities of Carlsbad, La Costa, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carmel Valley, and Rancho Santa Fe. We offer the most balanced program we know of in rigorous academics, enriching arts, and athletics. Students have unparalleled leadership opportunities – all in a trusting and socially inclusive environment. There is no other private school like it in San Diego.

Imagine your child in the front row of every class.


School Overview

The Grauer School, one of San Diego’s premier prep schools, was founded in 1991 by Dr. Stuart Grauer to give voices to local teens. Our grades 7 - 12 students have matriculated to the nation’s finest colleges and universities. Set on six green acres in coastal Encinitas, CA, our campus and diverse programs accommodate approximately 200 engaged and connected students and teachers. School is in session from late August through mid-June, plus open enrollment summer sessions.

The Grauer School believes that secondary education is not a means to an end. We want our students to try classes for fun, make mistakes, follow a passion, and do things that they are drawn to rather than plotting out a preordained path. We believe they will achieve more enduring outcomes in this way, including getting into the most appropriate colleges and making meaningful career and life choices.

The Grauer School allows for the deep engagement and personal attention that has been largely lost in other middle and high schools. Backed by many years of research, families in schools with fewer than 200 students find that students thrive because they are better able to connect with each other and with their teachers. We are global leaders in the rapidly growing small schools movement.

A lot has happened in our field in the past few generations. Grauer is a study in “best practice” education. Students spend their days in a Socratic environment on our natural, green, campus. We integrate the best of Waldorf education (arts and nature across the curriculum), Montessori ("choices and voices”), Harkness method (Socratic method), Dewey (democratic education), Mastery Learning (Bloom), service learning, self-directed education, technological and hybrid education, and our acclaimed Expeditionary Education program. With all this, no wonder educators world over visit and study our methods.

To balance our program, our regular program entails completing the rigorous “a-g” admission requirements of the University of California. Our courses meet criteria for NCAA eligibility. We are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Students spend a minimum of one week each semester on one of our regional or global Expeditions, immersing in different cultures, customs, and ecosystems. Students consistently find these to be life-changing and deeply connecting experiences. Before graduation, each student has completed a minimum of 50 hours of community service and a total of five weeks of Expeditions. Most students complete more of both.

Learn more about Expeditionary Learning at Grauer

Our admissions office is busy year round and loves hearing from you!

Contact Admissions


The Grauer School is governed by the Board of Trustees of The Grauer Foundation for Education, a 501(c)(3) California public charity. Various board committees, which consists of community leaders and parents, provide governance and advisory assistance to the school and board. A Student Council supports various cultural, social and student issues. A Parent Association represents the school locally and creates cultural and social events year-round.

Learn more about our Board Governance

"For the first time in his life my son jumps out of bed first thing in the morning without being told to get up, does his homework without being told, has completely eliminated video games from his life, and spends all his free time on creative projects. This school has transformed our lives."

A New Grauer Parent, 2017

The Grauer's Gorilla

We are the Grauer Gorillas. It was no accident that our school, the region’s premier, small independent prep school, selected the world’s largest primate as its mascot. For years we made a claim about the Grauer’s gorilla: it should have been extinct by now. Incredibly, it has kept hanging on. To us at The Grauer School, this great species has served as an inspirational message of perseverance.

Grauer's GorillaGorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center – GRACE was founded in 2009 and is the only facility in the world dedicated to providing in situ rehabilitative care for Grauer’s gorillas orphaned by poaching. GRACE’s ultimate goal is to return gorillas to the wild. GRACE also works with local communities, through education and other outreach programs, to help ensure the long-term survival of wild gorilla populations. Grauer’s gorillas only live in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and have lost 77% of their population in the past 20 years due to poaching. They are Critically Endangered and considered to be one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. For more information about GRACE, please visit www.gracegorillas.org, watch the video, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Read a message from the Head of School