Magnet schools offer a specialized curriculum to public school students. For example, a magnet school program may offer a foreign language immersion program beginning in kindergarten. In this specialized public school, elementary age students spend part of the day taught exclusively in another language, such as Japanese, and the rest of the day taught in English. Other magnet programs may offer engineering, culinary arts, or visual and performing arts programs.

Applying to a magnet school takes a little more effort than enrolling in your locally zoned public school. But, the good news is that any family living in a school district that offers a magnet school may apply to attend – including homeschoolers.


Magnet schools are free to attend. However, the application process restricts enrollment. For many elementary magnet schools,  lotteries guide enrollment. Families must simply submit their basic application by the deadline. The family already has another child at the school, the applying sibling may get an extra shot at winning a lottery-assigned seat.

Middle and high school magnet school programs application may be more involved. Some competitive academic programs, such as public high schools offering the International Baccalaureate (or IB) may require students to take a test. Creative arts magnet programs will require a portfolio or an audition. Almost all high school magnet programs require a student interview. Applications will be weighted based on the different entrance requirements. Students who score above a cut-off may be offered an automatic admission seat into the program. All other students will be placed in an entrance lottery.

Creating Your Homeschool Transcript

Middle and high school magnet school applications may require a transcript of all previous years’ classes and grades. Homeschoolers – even those who unschool or use a parent-constructed curriculum – must submit a transcript.

Putting together a transcript may feel like a daunting task, but begin by taking a look at the form that must be filled out, as it may be a standard fill-in-the-blank form. Even if you’ve never given your child a grade, do your best to determine how well your child has mastered the material you’ve taught in the last year. If you honestly think your child earned straight A’s, record that on the form. At the same time, don’t be shy about putting down a B or even a C in certain subject, if that best captures your child’s achievement. Remember, it’s likely that your child will be taking some kind of test as part of the application process that will add support to the grades you report.


Every school district will have their own timeline for applying to a magnet school program. The following guidelines, however, can help you get a sense of the magnet school application process.

    • September and October
      Attend an informational meeting about the application process
    • November and December
      Application deadlines vary by school district, but they are generally due BEFORE December 1 of the year prior to when you want your child to attend.
    • January and February
      Auditions, interviews, and testing  scheduled.
    • April
      Acceptance notices sent out.

Last modified on September 13, 2019

Share This Page: