An Intellectual Playground for Passionate Learners

Grades 4 to 12

Qualia can be compared to an all-day intellectual dinner party – a place where brainy word play, clever argumentation, and surprising ideas come together in a milieu that provokes, entertains and inspires. We attract students with rich internal lives and a deep passion to understand, ranging from irrepressible extroverts to still-waters-run-deep introverts. In the Qualia school culture, passionate equals cool. Our students learn to practice kindness and open communication while embracing the range of intellectual talent that makes a day at Qualia unforgettable.

Qualia students embrace the challenge of meaningful inquiry, excel in the arts of rhetoric and discourse, and appreciate the difference between acquisition of facts and thoughtful analysis. Our students enter higher education as trusted proprietors of their own intellectual growth, ready to discover themselves in a complex world of knowledge and ideas.

Beyond Honors

At Qualia we embrace students’ diverse interests, supporting them to excel at their own pace without limitations. For advanced learners, we offer inquiry-driven honors classes, an advanced level STEM program, a unique Symposium program, a senior honors thesis program, a 12th-year Quest Program, and the opportunity to take college courses for credit. Excellence at Qualia means losing yourself in a topic or idea, entering into a focused state of intellectual “flow” while sharing your uncontainable enthusiasm with others. Close mentoring by our faculty, themselves passionate life-long scholars and creators, promotes deep understanding and personalizes learning. For a budding scholar, the Qualia experience provides an antidote and counterpoint to the lecture-and-test, smile-and-endure “Race to Nowhere” embodied by other elite programs.

From Areté to Qualia

Qualia: The School for Deeper Learning opened our doors in September 2021. Qualia, a California nonprofit overseen by a Board of Trustees, inherits all of the strengths of Areté Preparatory Academy – intellectual depthclose mentoring, and student-led learning. In addition, we plan to crank up student ownershipagency and participation to “11,” serving as a model for authentic student participation in school creation, planning and growth. Further innovations will emerge from brainstorming sessions with the students at the September Institute and the January Institute, regular touchstones built into the fabric of the school year.

Although Areté has closed its doors, returning Areté students and families have joined us as co-founders and co-designers to create this one-of-a-kind learning environment built on the Areté Learning Model.

All of this is taking place in a gorgeous, architecturally-designed indoor/outdoor setting uniquely appropriate for a new era in school design. We are thrilled to have Stan Chiu, a parent of a Qualia senior and a partner at the renowned Gensler architectural firm, as our school architect and vision partner for this project. The campus’ ample indoor and outdoor space will give rise to extraordinary curricular and extracurricular opportunities, including a state-of-the-art Idea Lab, science lab, music studio, and podcasting studio, as well as an organic garden, outdoor kitchen, and (local ordinances permitting) a pet pig, or possibly even a campus goat. 

We are joined in the new school endeavor by Dr. Jon Cassie, an influential author and expert on pedagogy and game-based learning. Dr. Cassie has devoted his career to promoting and facilitating student-centered, student-driven, highly engaging models of learning. He joins us after leaving his post as Director of Curriculum and Innovation at TVT Community Day School in Irvine. He was formerly Head of the Senior School Sewickley Academy in Pittsburgh, and Assistant Head of School at Milken Community Schools in Los Angeles.

Through educational innovation, we intend — together with you — to  promote a society based on inspired reflection,  provocative discourse, and extraordinary aspirations.

A Groundbreaking Educational Model

Qualia’s educational model, honed over fourteen game-changing years, combines passion-driven, student-centered learning with an enticingly rich college preparatory curriculum. Based on 60 years of combined experience in L.A. independent schools, Qualia is the brainchild of veteran educators determined to overturn a current educational paradigm based on a century and a half of failed conventions and half-realized reforms. Our goal is to create a learning environment where high-capacity, high-curiosity kids chart their own course based on a deep, unapologetic fascination with knowledge and ideas. As much an intentional community as a school, Qualia is a model and incubator for a society based on authentic dialogue, joyful inquiry, and meaningful aspirations.

If you believe your child would thrive in this one-of-a-kind learning environment, drop us a line to set up a campus tour and interview.


Our Mission

At Qualia, we learn by playfully wrestling with the apparent contradictions between fifty centuries of recorded knowledge and the emerging realities of the transformative now. By doing this, we emphasize the development of autonomy, balance, curiosity, self-direction and self-respect. Drawing on the full range of human experience and wisdom, we dignify our school, local, national and global communities and embrace our interconnectedness and interdependence as members of the human family.

Our Vision

Propelled by the energy and ingenuity of our students, Qualia’s best-in-class faculty deepen and expand passions while imparting a lifelong fascination with puzzles, questions, and quandaries. By requiring deep and meaningful inquiry, we create genuine thinkers who embrace ambiguity and welcome challenge. As flexible thinkers compelled to offer original ideas, our graduates are poised to forge solutions and shape a new landscape — ideological as well as practical — in an era of unprecedented change.

An Intellectual Playground for Passionate Learners

Inspiring students to:

Develop a powerful, authentic voice
Pursue truth through reason
Contribute originally and meaningfully to the world

The Qualia Way

At the cutting edge of 21st century education, our inquiry-driven, seminar-style classes challenge students to analyze, question, debate, reimagine and synthesize – all in the context of a rigorous, comprehensive college preparatory program. Guided by a passionate faculty, our students deepen their intellectual identities, upend existing paradigms, and forge inspirational solutions.

An Education for Thinkers

Philosophical questions and methods underlie our teaching. Our students learn to do philosophy: challenging widely-held beliefs, exposing hidden assumptions and synthesizing disparate claims and propositions. Having escaped the chains of conventional thinking, a philosophically- trained mind is equipped to innovate, disrupt, and inspire – a toolkit for a challenging world.

Latest News

The Qualia Vision

The past year has afforded unprecedented opportunity and cause for reflection on the school’s educational vision, successes, challenges and goals. Finding a campus has long been a dream of ours – not just any campus, but one with the right size, features and “vibe” to support our unique culture and aspirations. 

Aporia -

Intellectual Openness

Aporia is a joyous moment of revelation, the first step toward true wisdom and the cornerstone of our program. Socrates and his followers embraced Aporia as an epiphany of not-knowing, a realization that superficial learning is not the same as genuine understanding.

Through our inquiry-based methods and Socratic questioning, between and among students and teachers, Qualia students learn to let go of their prior, fact-focused concept of mastery and hold themselves to a higher level of insight and understanding.

The Qualia Seminar -

Free Thinkers Allowed

A Qualia Seminar is so much more than just a small class. Built on a foundation of open communication and mutual respect, our Seminars represent a shared goal: to create a place where profound reflection and innovative risk-taking are encouraged and celebrated. 

Instead of competing for attention and points, students engage in thoughtful, provocative questioning and work together to deepen and expand discourse. At the same time, the Qualia Seminar is pensively playful – a rare place where a student can revel in the satisfaction and fun of learning while also developing a powerful academic identity and voice.

Symposium -

A Marketplace for Ideas

Both a celebration and a challenge, Symposium is the embodiment of the Qualia spirit and pedagogy – a meaningful, transformative alternative to final exams. Consistent with our commitment to “choice and voice,” students select their own topics based on a unifying, school-wide philosophical question or theme. They become researchers and teachers, learning to produce substantive, idea-focused academic papers. 

After an exhilarating and rewarding week of exploration and writing, students transform their papers into interactive, creative presentations that bring their ideas to life for an authentic audience of Areté students, teachers and the community at large.

Rolling Admissions

Learn More from our Admissions Team

We nurture

Daring ideas
playful ingenuity
Deep Analysis

Middle School

Upper School

Quick Facts

1 %
First-choice colleges

Nearly all of our graduates get into their first choice colleges

students per teacher

Our Seminars are small by design to facilitate deep, engaged, meaningful learning 

1 %
Qualia Teachers with postgraduate degrees

Our students enjoy close mentoring by a first-in-class faculty

1 %
Students on Scholarship

We are proud of our generous scholarship program

What People Say

From Our Qualia families