A link to the prospective student questionnaire, the caledar of events, and arts courses?

Architecture and Design

The architecture program has been a long-standing component of the arts curriculum at Deerfield Academy and introduces students to drawing, design, and model-building techniques, architectural vocabulary, and the role and responsibilities of architects and architecture in society. It also strives to incorporate a larger philosophical discussion regarding our current and future built environment that will enable students to be active participants in later discussions and decisions, regardless of their eventual career path.


Architecture is defined as the physical embodiment of beauty in the built environment. According to the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, buildings must embody 3 essential elements – firmness, commodity, and delight. In other words, buildings must be well-built, useful, and, most of all, beautiful. The architecture curriculum at Deerfield continues the Classical tradition through the ideas, theory, methods, and tools of traditional design and its emphasis on sustainable, human-scaled buildings strongly rooted in a sense of place. Towards that end, students are taught using traditional drafting, drawing, rendering, and model-buildings techniques before translating those skills to the computer. The courses focus on the timeless qualities of beauty, harmony, elegance and balance to produce drawings, designs, and models that emphasize connections with both the tradition of architecture as well as 21st century needs and technology. The Deerfield Academy campus and the surrounding environment are utilized as much as possible to illustrate topics and concepts covered in class.


Students are introduced to the discipline of architecture through a series of lectures, readings, campus tours, and drawing and design exercises. Topics covered include drawing and design skills, the history and philosophy of architecture, and materials and construction techniques. Beyond the introduction to the design and production components of architecture, and perhaps even more importantly, the courses aim to increase the architectural awareness of the students. Students with knowledge and experience in architecture are better, more broadly educated future citizens and better able to participate in decisions regarding the built environment. The curriculum is designed to increase the student’s appreciation of the built environment while also allowing them to develop critical thinking skills about its future. Additionally, exposure to design principles and the iterative process is a valuable experience that translates to many different disciplines.


Deerfield’s comprehensive dance program provides training in modern, jazz, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, and contemporary dance techniques as well as instruction in the craft of choreography and improvisation. Classes are tailored to meet the needs of all experience levels from complete beginners to pre-professional dancers. There are opportunities to perform in and choreograph for dance concerts that are presented each of our three trimesters.

Dance is offered as both an academic and co-curricular option at Deerfield. All students may study dance during the academic day either as a credit or pass/fail option on a term-by-term basis in order to accommodate the requirements of their academic schedules. Introduction to Dance is offered fall term, and participants may continue into Dance I in the winter and spring terms. The intermediate and advanced dance ensembles are both full year commitments with many exciting opportunities to work with professional choreographers and to participate in a variety of technique classes. Students in the academic ensembles also create dances collaboratively for a Student Choreography Showcase in the winter term. The co-curricular dance program is offered all three terms, and students may participate on a term-by-term basis or all year.

Opportunities within Deerfield’s dance program are supplemented by an extensive series of performances and master classes by such outstanding dance companies as Alvin Ailey, Momix, Ballet Chicago and David Parsons. Additionally, each year the works of distinguished guest choreographers are commissioned for dancers in the program. There is also a ballet coaching program that provides private and semi-private instruction for dancers of all experience levels.


The Music Program at Deerfield Academy is home to a world-renowned faculty of music professionals and boasts a state-of-the-art performing arts facility that rivals the nation’s finest conservatories.

We are excited to announce that Deerfield musicians will be performing at Carnegie Hall in February of 2021! Check back here for more details.

Our wide array of music classes, student ensembles, and guest artist residencies provide students the opportunity to gain deep knowledge and direct experience in the many diverse facets of the modern musical landscape.

Listen to recent student performances on our YouTube Channel​.

Are you a musician interested joining the music community at Deerfield? Navigate to the “Music Faculty” page below and send a message directly to the Program Director in your area of interest.

Studio Art

The visual arts play a significant role in the life of the school. Vibrant academic courses, unique co-curricular options, and substantive exhibitions captivate our students and inspire the community. Our course offerings provide an essential creative outlet and a means by which students can apply their artistic scholarship to real-world applications.

Our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of beginning and advanced students, those looking for a single-term elective, or those who may pursue their interest in the arts beyond graduation.

Browse a full course catalog here.

The Academy’s visual art program is grounded in the formal principles of design while being a fertile hive of creative invention. We use a variety of media, styles, and techniques to communicate deeply felt work that is rich with narrative content. All courses draw upon art history and reference contemporary work. Each project allows for personal expression and each unit of study culminates in an interactive group critique. Our more ambitious students submit portfolios to the College Board and include art supplements with their applications to college.

Members of the visual arts faculty are practicing artists who regularly show their work in professional galleries and annually mount exhibitions in the Academy’s von Auersperg Gallery. The gallery also showcases other local and international artists’ work throughout the school year. Additional inspiration may come through visits to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Clark Museum, and the outstanding collections of the museums at Williams College, Smith College, UMass, and Amherst College.

Galleries and Studios

Deerfield’s Hess Center for the Arts is a space that inspires artistic expression, collaboration, and high-level creative work.

Workspaces include dedicated art studios, an expansive acting laboratory, a recording studio, a wet darkroom, photo and video studios, an architecture studio, two dance studios, and numerous practice rooms.

Performances and exhibit spaces tie the facility together: a black box theater as well as proscenium fuel theater and dance performances, two galleries–the von Auersperg Gallery and the Hilson Gallery–feature work from students and faculty as well as visiting artists, and a purpose-built concert hall provides fantastic acoustics for music performances.

Visit the von Auersperg Gallery


Theater provides a plethora of benefits to those who study it, including increased confidence, resilience, collaboration, discipline, and creativity. Deerfield Academy is proud of its award-winning, active theater program. In a typical year, more than 100 students participate as actors and technicians and more than 2,500 patrons attend four annual productions. Recent productions include Antigone and Clue. Since 2002 Deerfield has been selected four times to represent the United States in the American High School Theatre Festival at the world-renowned Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in Scotland. In 2014, the Deerfield Academy production of Looking After Norman won the Best Production Award at this prestigious arts festival, and this trip allowed students to be immersed in theatrical culture in one of the most prominent theater hubs in the world. This trip is a regular occurrence every three years for Deerfield’s dedicated theater students.

Our magnificent state-of-the-art facilities in the newly renovated Hess Center for the Arts allow unlimited creative and artistic outlets. The Hess Center includes three performance spaces – the Hess Auditorium, the Black Box Studio, and the Acting Lab – and gives students access to such spaces as the script library, the costume storage and construction rooms, and the props room.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in theater at Deerfield. Numerous classes are offered throughout the year, ranging in levels from Acting I to Acting and Directing for Production, a tutorial-level class. We also offer more focused courses and workshops on Shakespeare, writing, directing, auditioning, and improvisation at various points throughout the year.

Theater is also available as a cocurricular option. No experience is necessary for any production–the only requirement is a desire to work hard and have some fun. Students may audition for a role or sign up for the tech crew, where they will learn about lighting, set construction, sound design, costumes, props, and stage management. Additionally, students are encouraged to write or direct their own work, such as in the new Festival of Student Writing, launched in Spring 2016.

Should you require more information, please do not hesitate to contact the Theater Program Director, Catriona Hynds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before they enter Deerfield, all new students are required to take a math placement test to determine an appropriate class. Students who have already taken a language they wish to continue studying at Deerfield will take a placement test to determine what level class they should take. If the placement in either department is deemed inappropriate after the student arrives, then the section teacher may suggest a change of level. Students may also request such a change and should consult with their teacher and their academic advisor before contacting the Dean of Studies.

Study abroad is available to all students from their sophomore to senior years, although typically students who choose to go abroad will do so during their junior year.

In order to garner Honors distinction a student must have a cumulative term average above 90.0%. High Honors requires an average of 93.0% or above. Exemplary students with a grade point average of 92.0 or higher may qualify for admission to the Cum Laude Society, a national honor society. 

Because of its commitment to rigorous academics, Deerfield offers a wide range of accelerated and Advanced Placement courses. All of Deerfield’s classes are appropriately challenging, but AP and accelerated courses provide an extra challenge for ambitious students.

All students are assigned a faculty advisor at the beginning of their time at Deerfield. After their first year students may choose a new advisor, or continue with their original one, depending on the relationships they have developed with Deerfield’s faculty. Advisors are responsible for submitting course requests and writing an advisor report every term. They are available for any questions a student may have and are involved in every major academic or athletic decision a student makes while at Deerfield. In addition, faculty eat lunch with their advisees every Thursday and may schedule outside events for their advisees. Advisors are a key component of the Deerfield experience, as they provide guidance and friendship to students throughout their time at Deerfield.

The Pursuit of Excellence Policy states that students may miss up to five class days a year if an unusual and extraordinary opportunity arises, including opportunities in a variety of academic, athletic, and artistic fields. The Academic Affairs Office determines the legitimacy of pursuit of excellence requests on a case-by-case basis.

Contact Academics
Fax 413-772-1128

Boyden Library
Mon–Fri, 8am–4pm

7 Boyden Lane, PO Box 87
Deerfield, MA 01342