Academics Overview

Finding God in all things calls us to community in diversity, strength of character, academic excellence, kinship with creation, social justice, and joy.

Back-to-School Night

Our annual Back-to-School Night is on Thursday, September 3, 2015, beginning in your student’s first class at 7 p.m. You should have received an email with passcodes and instructions to print your student’s schedule. Please contact if you did not receive it. Most future communications from school to parents will be done via email or our website’s Parents’ page, so you may want to make your home page. This is where you can find the latest, most up-to-date school information.

At Back-to-School Night, you will be attending a mini-session of each of your student’s seven classes (eight if your student is enrolled in a before-school X-period class or an online course). Remember to bring your student’s schedule with you so you know where to go. Study hall classes will not meet on this evening, so feel free to explore the library during this period.

The first session (or class) begins at 7 p.m. sharp. This is one of the occasions where our entire parent community will be in attendance and our campus parking lots may be full well before 7 p.m., so carpooling is advised. Please allow time for traffic and for walking from neighboring streets. You don’t want to miss your student’s first class! (If parking off campus, don’t leave anything in your car.)

With classroom sessions limited to 10 minutes, there is not enough time to meet the teachers individually at this event. Our Parent-Teacher conferences in October are designed for individual meetings.
Refreshments will be served in the cafeteria and annex at 8:45 p.m., and school planners/calendars will be distributed there.

This is an event specifically for parents, so students need not attend. We are looking forward to a great school year in partnership with you and hope to see you on September 3!

Not Receiving Important Emails?

Last semester, Bishop O’Dowd High School began using School Messenger to communicate with parents and students by email and phone. You might find some of these email in your SPAM or Junk folders. To receive these important emails i your inbox, please add “” to your address book.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact Gavin Maeda at

California Scholarship Federation

The first fifteen days of each semester is the application period for CSF. Applications, report cards, and $5.00 membership dues need to be turned in to Mrs. Promes (Rm 11) within the 15-day application period at the beginning of each semester. Late applications will only be accepted with a $10.00 late fee, so students are encouraged to turn in their applications early.

The California Scholarship Federation and California Junior Scholarship Federation (CSF and CJSF) exist to promote and recognize high standards of scholarship, service and citizenship on the part of students in California schools.

CSF Application deadline for spring 2015 membership is Friday, September 11, 2015. Life membership requires one of the four semesters of membership to be in the senior year, so seniors are encouraged to apply early.


Membership is based on scholarship and citizenship only. Membership is retroactive. Applications for membership at the beginning of each semester are accepted for grades attained the previous semester. Students must submit an application each semester the student is eligible. A point system specified in the CSF State By-Laws establishes the membership requirements. To secure eligibility for CSF membership, a student must earn sufficient points from pre-approved course lists. The majority of the required membership points must come from University of California accepted course work. Bishop O’Dowd’s course list is on the back of the application form.

California Junior Scholarship Foundation (CJSF) is for grades 7-9 while CSF is for grades 10-12. Bishop O’Dowd has an official chapter of CSF, but not CJSF. For ninth graders, we note CSF membership for purposes of internal recognition only. Not until the completion of the first semester of the sophomore year will membership begin to count towards life membership.

Application Forms

CSF Membership Application
CSF Membership Information
Hours Log and Volunteer Guidelines – Due to Firefox issues, please right click for download
CSF Life Membership Application

National Honor Society Forms and Information

Students with junior or senior standing are eligible for appointment to the National Honor Society. National Honor Society information and activity forms are below and are accepted the first ten days of each semester. The deadline for this fall is Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

NHS History and Qualif
Student Selection Materials Packet

Graduation Requirements

In the course of a normal four-year program, a student is required to complete satisfactorily the departmental requirements outlined below.

  • English (40 units) - English 1, 2, 3, and two semesters of senior electives
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts (10 units)
  • Foreign Language (20 units) -2 years of the same language
  • Mathematics (30 units) - Algebra (2 years), Geometry
  • Physical Education (20 units) - Freshman Physical Education, Sophomore Physical Education/Health, Upper Division Physical Education
  • Religious Studies (40 units) A religion course must be taken each semester - Christian Sexuality and Hebrew Scriptures freshman year, Christian Scripture and The Catholic Experience sophomore year, Christian Morality and an elective or Peace and Justice junior year. Senior year, Peace and Justice and an elective are required or two electives if Peace and Justice was taken in the junior year.
  • Science (20 units) - Biology, 1 year of physical science
  • Social Studies (30 units) - Geo-History, United States History, American Government and Economics/Foreign Affairs

Students must enroll in a minimum of 30 units per semester. Requirements for graduation must be fulfilled during the regular school year. Courses taken elsewhere at the high school or college level must have prior approval of the Counselor and the Assistant Principal for Academics. Students must earn a minimum of 240 semester units of credit in order to graduate.

Honors Courses

Honors level coursework is available in geo-history, English 1, English 2, English 3, Spanish 3, French 3, geometry, algebra 2/trigonometry, pre-calculus, chemistry, and physics. Placement is determined by departmental standards.

Advanced Placement

The College Board offers advanced placement curricula and exams in numerous academic disciplines. These curricula are college level and students often receive some college credit or advanced standing once entering college. Students take AP exams in mid-May. Performance is evaluated on the basis of 1 (no recommendation) to 5 (extremely well-qualified).

When completing course registration, students should sign-up for the Advanced Placement courses in which they are interested in enrolling. While the criteria for placement in AP courses may vary slightly by department, general criteria include honors grades, strong teacher recommendation, a previous record of timely and successful completion of assignments and above-average standardized test scores. All courses require a completed application by the yearly established deadline. Due to the rigorous nature of AP course work, it is imperative that students meet minimum placement standards and be committed to completing comprehensive reading and writing at the college level with success.

Enrollment in AP courses includes the commitment to write the AP examination for that course in May as well as the commitment to pay the established fee for that examination. Students enrolling in more than two AP courses must have parental approval.

Independent Study

Bishop O'Dowd offers the option of independent study to serious, motivated students who wish to pursue in-depth study of a specific subject area in which the student is deeply interested, working outside the regular classroom routine in conjunction with a faculty member. Independent study may not duplicate a course contained in the regular curricular offerings and must be at least an additional course on the student's roster. Independent studies may not be used to fulfill graduation requirements. The student, in cooperation with the faculty member, must design specific guidelines, goals, and criteria for the course. All independent study options must be approved by the department chairperson.

Course of Study by Grade Level 2014-15

Grade 9


Christian Sexuality/Hebrew Scriptures*

1 year / 10

English 1/Honors English 1

1 year / 10

Mathematics (options vary according to placement)

1 year / 10

Geo-History/Honors Geo-History

1 year / 10

Science and the Environment

1 year / 10

Fine or Performing Arts Elective or Study Hall

1 year / 10

World Language course or College Prep Language Skills (based upon placement)

1 year / 10

Grade 10


Christian Scriptures/The Catholic Experience**

1 year / 10

English 2/Honors English 2

1 year / 10

Mathematics (options vary according to placement)

1 year / 10


1 year / 10

World Language course

1 year / 10

Physical Education/Health

1 year / 10


1 year / 0-10

Grade 11


Christian Morality/Peace & Justice* or Religion Elective

1 year / 10

English 3/Honors English 3

1 year / 10

U. S. History/AP U.S. History

1 year / 10

Mathematics (options vary according to placement)

1 year / 10

AP Biology, Chemistry, Engineering Physics, Honors Chemistry, AP Chemistry, Earth Science or science elective

1 year / 10

World Language course

1 year / 10

Physical Education/Electives

1 year / 0-10

Grade 12


Peace & Justice*/Religion Elective or 2 Religion Electives

2 semesters/20

English Electives/AP English

2 semesters/20

Two courses to fulfill the American Government/Econ requirement: Amer

Govt, Amer Govt/Close-Up, and Economics or AP Macroeconomics, or

AP Govt & Pol U.S./Govt Comparative

1 year / 10

Physical Education (if two-year graduation requirement not completed)

1 semester or 1 year/5 or 10

Electives from any department of interest (concurrently)

6-7 semesters/25-30

*Service Learning - Ancestor's Project (min. 10 hr.)

**Service Learning - Friends Project (min. 25 hr.) and St. Anthony Justice Education Day (1 day/5 hr.)

***Service Learning - Anawim Project (min. 60 hr.) To be completed with Peace & Justice in junior or senior year.

Honors & AP Course Placement

Placement in honors and AP (Advanced Placement) courses is determined by individual academic departments. Student who wish to enroll in these courses must fulfill a variety of requirements in order to be eligible.

In addition to a written application submitted by the yearly established deadline, students may be required to:

  • Complete a detailed application and/or submit copies of previous graded work (January)
  • Maintain a specified GPA (grade point average)
  • Maintain a specified grade in prerequisites to the course
  • Interview with the teacher or department chairperson

Once a student has been accepted into a course, he/she must:

  • Maintain the required GPA and grades
  • Complete all summer work and projects

For more information, please consult the online course catalog and/or online AP course application found in the sidebar of this page.

Finding God in All Things

9500 Stearns Ave | Oakland, CA 94605 | Phone: (510) 577-9100 | Fax: (510) 638-3259