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How Wake County’s magnet schools create well-rounded students

These distinctive magnet pathways are designed to provide students and families with diverse learning options that help them learn and see things differently.

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Two students work on a robotics project

Magnet students engaged in learning during a robotics elective.

Photo provided by Paul Cory, WCPSS Communications

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Looking for innovative programs to meet the unique strengths and interests of your child? Enter: Wake County’s magnet schools + pioneering programs, which are designed to challenge students to think creatively and solve problems while being exposed to new experiences.

Nationally, 3.5+ million students participate in free magnet programs in ~4,340 schools including some right here in our backyard. Since 1982, magnet schools in Wake County have been offering families dynamic educational choices. Today, they host over 30 different programs in 56 schools and have been awarded Merit Awards 365+ times by Magnet Schools of America.

What sets magnet programs apart from traditional schools? Let’s explore the five different magnet pathways offered locally:


Schools in this pathway help enrich learning by enhancing the North Carolina Standard Course of Study connections to science, technology, engineering, math thinking, and future careers. This program focuses on everything from computer science and design to exploring innovation, entrepreneurship, and environmental connections.

🎨 Arts Plus

The schools in this pathway help students demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through a creative process. Arts Plus explores integrating arts and/or design into academic learning. Students in this pathway may visit a museum or attend a performance and learn about topics ranging from fabric design and dance to sculpture and theater.

🌎 Global Studies and Immersion

Four students of WCPSS Global Studies and Immersion schools standing in a row

Learn a language at one of the Global Studies and Immersion schools.

Photo provided by Paul Cory, WCPSS Communications

The Global Studies pathway provides students with opportunities to connect their learning to events, people, and areas around the globe. Students focus on developing a better understanding of the global competencies and enhancing their capacity to make global connections using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Bonus: Each program also focuses on world language study, with language acquisition choices ranging from daily world language offerings to dual language immersion programs for Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

🧠 Gifted and Talented

This pathway celebrates and supports the discovery and development of all students’ gifts and talents. Students customize their educational experience by selecting electives from a menu of course options in various subject areas, be it in academics, the visual or performing arts, or a world language.

Three Magnet students smiling

Magnet students enjoy opportunities in and beyond the classroom walls.

Photo provided by Paul Cory, WCPSS Communications

🗺️ International Baccalaureate

This pathway follows the internationally-recognized International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum framework that is offered in 140 countries world-wide. The IB Programme emphasizes the value of inquiry, international-mindedness, and interdisciplinary teaching throughout eight subject areas and community action. Another focus of all IB schools is to nurture 10 qualities within a Learner Profile (think: risk-taking, being balanced, and the ability to think and communicate well).

🎓 Early Colleges

Early colleges are high schools with a university or college partnership that allows students to take both high school- and college/university-level classes during their daily schedule.

Students will graduate with a high school diploma + college credits that can go towards an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year university. Wake County partners with NC State University, St. Augustine’s University, and Wake Tech Community College.

✏️ Learn more

WCPSS is hosting an in-person Magnet & Early College Fair on Sat., Oct. 29 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Enloe Magnet High School (128 Clarendon Crescent). Prospective students and their families are invited to explore schools within the different pathways to see which one will be a good fit.*

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