University High School (Tucson)

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University High School
420 N. Arcadia Ave.
Tucson, Arizona
Coordinates 32°13′35″N 110°53′20″W / 32.226492°N 110.88876°W / 32.226492; -110.88876Coordinates: 32°13′35″N 110°53′20″W / 32.226492°N 110.88876°W / 32.226492; -110.88876
Type Public (magnet) secondary
Established 1976
Oversight Tucson Unified School District
Principal Amy Cislak
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1,014; 2,072 combined with Rincon(Oct. 1, 2010)[1]
Campus Urban
Color(s) Black and white         
Mascot Penguin
Newspaper The Perspective

University High School (UHS) is an accelerated public high school located in Tucson, Arizona. Originally known as Special Projects High School (SPHS), University High School is in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). The mission statement of UHS identifies it as "a special function high school which serves students who are academically focused and intellectually gifted and provides curriculum and social support not offered in the comprehensive high school."

Location and Features[edit]

The school currently shares a centrally located campus with Rincon High School. UHS was located at the Tucson High School campus before moving to Rincon's campus at the beginning of September 1985.

The mascot at UHS is the penguin. When it was known as Special Projects High School, the mascot was the skunk. Both mascots give the school its reputable colors of black and white. While UHS is a public school, entry is based upon a combination of exam scores and 7th and 8th grade GPAs. Unlike most schools, the only students who are admitted after freshman year replace the students who leave.

Relationship with Rincon[edit]

University High students participate in Rincon's athletics and fine arts programs. Students from both schools are generally able to participate in classes that are only offered by the other school. A few extracurricular activities are separate between the schools, mostly competitive clubs such as Academic Decathlon, the chess team, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, Science Olympiad, etc. Generally, school clubs are commonly open to both Rincon and UHS students. The TUSD school district has planned to move University High School many times, but it has not happened yet. They will have their own fine arts and athletics programs and might take the campus of Palo Verde High School, both members of TUSD. If this happens, whichever school UHS is moved to will send its students to Rincon.

AP Offerings[edit]

UHS students graduate after taking a minimum of 8 Advanced Placement (AP) classes (AP English as upperclassmen and AP US History and AP US Government), while many opt to take additional AP courses, some even complete as many as 16. In 2004, the school had the greatest percentage of students passing the AP exams for United States History, Comparative Politics and English Language of any high school in the world. Also, nearly all of students continue on to college with 50-75% achieving one or more scholarships. As of 2009, the following AP courses are offered (28 of the 31 that the College Board offers):


  • AP English Literature
  • AP German Language
  • AP English Language
  • AP Spanish Language
  • AP Spanish Literature
  • AP European History
  • AP World History
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics B
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP Macroeconomics
  • AP Phys C (Electricity & Magnetism)
  • AP U.S. History
  • AP Govt & Politics: US
  • AP History of Art
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Studio Art
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Music Theory
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Psychology
  • AP Human Geography
  • AP French Language
  • AP Computer Science A
  • AP French Literature
  • AP Computer Sci AB
  • AP Environmental Sciences

Honors as a College Preparatory School[edit]

UHS is routinely recognized prominently as a top institution on lists and rankings of the nation’s best high schools.

US News and World Report consistently identifies UHS as one of "America's Best High Schools" out of approximately 19,400 schools nationwide.[2]

Year Rank
2014 Ranked #7 [3]
2013 Ranked #28
2012 Ranked #4

In 2014, the Washington Post recognizes UHS at #28[4] on its review of "America's Most Challenging High Schools," that ranks the 1,900 highest-performing high schools nationally.[5]

In 2013, the Daily Beast listed UHS at #19 on its annual list of the "Best 2,000 High Schools in the Nation.[6]

In May 2006, Newsweek named UHS as one of "The Public Elites," schools that, "NEWSWEEK excluded...from the list of Best High Schools because so many of their students score well above average on the SAT and ACT."[7]

On January 30, 2013 Jonathan Rothschild the mayor of Tucson, Arizona declared said day to be University High School Day.

In 2005, it was honored as a Blue Ribbon school.[8]

Notable alumni[edit]

UHS Parents' Association[edit]

The University High School Parents' Association, Inc. (UHSPA) is a charitable, non-profit organization classified as a 501 (c)(3) entity by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The UHSPA’s primary mission is to assist students and their families during their four years at University High School, fostering a learning environment and support systems that contribute to students’ academic success, while helping them prepare for college. For more information, see:[18]


External links[edit]