Masters School

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Coordinates: 41°00′39″N 73°52′14″W / 41.010943°N 73.870451°W / 41.010943; -73.870451

The Masters School
Do It With Thy Might
49 Clinton Ave
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Type Private, boarding
Established 1877
Founder Eliza B. Masters
Head of School Maureen Fonseca, Ph.D.
Grades 5-12
Enrollment Upper School: 415
Middle School: 164
Campus 96 acres (390,000 m2)
Color(s) Purple and white         
Mascot Panthers
Newspaper Tower
Yearbook Masterpieces

The Masters School, known as Masters, is a private, coeducational boarding school and day college preparatory school located in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Its 96-acre (390,000 m2) campus is located north of New York City on the Hudson Valley in Westchester County. Originally founded as an all-girls private school in 1877 by Eliza Bailey Masters, the school first admitted boys in 1996.

Student body[edit]

The Masters School has over 570 students in grades 5-12. The school is co-educational with the exception of grades 6-8 in which most classes are separated by gender. Masters students come from 17 states and 17 countries. In the Upper School, 17% of students are international.


Over 70% of the faculty have advanced degrees. The average class size is 14 students.[1]


The school’s extensive wooded and lawned 96-acre campus is on a hilltop in Dobbs Ferry, a historic village with a sloping geography and waterfront on the Hudson River. A five-minute walk from the campus lookout over the Hudson brings students down to the heart of town, and a 40-minute train ride from there brings faculty and students to New York City.

Masters Hall, the main campus building

Located in the center of campus, two dormitories for boys and three dormitories for girls accommodate more than 150 upper school students from throughout the country and from around the world. The boys' dorms are Thompson and Strong; the girls' dorms are Ford, McCormack, and Cole.

The campus includes Estherwood, a late 19th-century mansion that is the only châteauesque building in Westchester County. It and its carriage house are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It houses faculty in apartments on the upper floors, and the first floor and grounds offer a unique setting for school parties and programs. Student chamber ensembles perform in Estherwood and, each year, drama students present one-act plays in one of the mansion’s rooms.


  • Masters Hall, which dates back to 1921, is the academic hub of the School. Renovated in 1972 following a devastating fire and again in 2005, it is a state-of-the-art facility for the twenty-first century. The building features the completely refurbished 30,000-volume Pittsburgh Library and McKnight Reading Room; Upper School academic classrooms with Harkness tables and ceiling-mounted LCD projectors; a digital media lab, language lab, and computer lab; and administration and faculty offices.
  • Morris Hall is the science and technology center. The building houses classrooms with Harkness tables and fully equipped science laboratories for teaching biology, physics, environmental science, and chemistry; faculty offices; two computer studies rooms; and a special lab for independent research.
  • The Middle School building opened in January 2005. It houses fifteen spacious classrooms; the Great Hall, which accommodates the entire Middle School for morning meeting, assemblies, and special events for the entire school; common areas on each floor for informal meetings and socializing; an art classroom and kiln; and a music room with keyboards.
  • Cameron A. Mann Dining Hall is the school's dining hall. The Dining Hall serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily for boarding and day students and is the site of many student and faculty hosted dinners and community events. The dining hall houses the student activity center and meeting spaces.
  • Claudia Boettcher Theatre is a 450-seat theatre in which actors, musicians, singers, and dancers perform. It is also the School’s gathering place where the entire Upper School assembles most mornings to begin the academic day.
  • Strayer Hall houses the school’s Gymnasium, Fitness Center, Music Center, and Dance Studio.
  • Art Studio is a two-story art studio adjacent to the theatre. A digital media lab and darkroom are located nearby.

The school is currently building a 75,000 square-foot athletics and arts center. It is expected to be completed by the winter of 2014.

School traditions[edit]

  • Morning Meeting
  • Delta-Phi Identities

All members of the school's community are randomly assigned a Delta or Phi identity that stays with them for their time at Masters. If a student has a relative that attends or attended The Masters School then he/she will be assigned to the same team. Delta sports blue shirts while Phi is red. The school color is purple which arises from mixing the two colors. At the beginning of each year Delta's and Phi's compete on a special day called Founder's Day in a giant match of tug of war. Other traditions include the school mascot, the panther, which often makes appearances at sporting events.


The school offers the following sports each season:

Academics and curriculum[edit]

The minimum course load each year includes five major courses. Graduation requirements include four years of English, three years of a foreign language, three years of mathematics, two years of lab science, three years of history (including U.S. history), religion (a one year minor), grade 9 introductory computer science course, humanities minor in grade 9, visual or performing arts minor, speech, health, and four years of physical education or other athletic credit.

The Masters School offers honors sections in the sciences, mathematics, and languages. Advanced Placement courses are offered in a wide variety of subject areas.

All classes at the Masters School are designed around the Harkness Method, a discussion-based teaching method designed to encourage active participation in education, and help students develop listening and public speaking skills.[2]

Arts and music[edit]

In the fields of theater, dance, music and the fine arts, many classes are offered during and after the school day.

Dobbs 16 competes at the National Championship of High School A Cappella in Allendale, New Jersey
The Drama Department stages three productions each year—a dramatic play in the fall, a musical in the winter, and student-directed one-act plays in the spring. Members of Phoenix, the honorary drama society, stage their own productions throughout the year, making student performances regular campus events. On Friday evenings, Phoenx Coffee House offers "open mic" opportunities for performers, poets, and musicians.
The music program offers classes and private lessons during the school day, one of the most popular being the school's chorus, known as Glee Club. Smaller a cappella groups are also popular. Students may participate in any of three groups: The Naturals, an all-male group; Dohters, all-female; and Dobbs 16, a coed group. Dobbs 16 has won competitions including the Northeast regional of the National Championship of High School A Capella 2005. The group toured China in the spring of 2008 and went on The Tyra Banks Show in fall 2009.[3] The host of instrumental and vocal groups includes a community orchestra and a jazz ensemble, plus bands and combos that offer opportunities for musical expression.
The dance program offers classes during the day and three audition-only dance companies. Muse and Urban Connection perform modern/ballet and hip-hop, respectively. The Masters School Dance Company performs twice a year, and in it students have the opportunity both to choreograph their own pieces and to havs pieces set on them by professional choreographers.
Visual arts
The visual arts program offers classes during the day, which can fulfill the arts requirement. Studio art minor classes are offered for one semester, and the more intensive major classes are offered for the entire year. These classes focus on a variety of mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking.
Tower is the award-winning[4] student newspaper of The Masters School. It is published approximately seven times a year. In 2012, the newspaper was awarded a gold medal in the 2012 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Medalist Critique.[5] The publication was awarded a gold medal again in the 2013 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Medalist Critique. In the 2013-2014 school year, Tower won the National Scholastic Press Association Newspaper Pacemaker Award for the first time.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In Michael Jackson's music video for Bad, school scenes were filmed in Masters Hall.[7]
  • In The Stepford Wives, a scene was filmed outside of Estherwood.[8]
  • In Roc-A-Fella Record's Can't Stop Won't Stop - every scene was filmed on campus, including inside Masters Hall and the dance studio. [9]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]



External links[edit]