Applying to Our Elementary Divisions

Current applicants for the 2022–2023 academic year can access their parent portal here. If you'd like to learn more about our School, submit an inquiry here.

Thank you for your interest in the Ethical Culture Fieldston School! While we acknowledge the challenging circumstances that we continue to navigate, we are excited to begin this journey with you and look forward to sharing what makes ECFS such a special school and community.

We place each of our applicants, from Pre-K through 11th Grade, at the center of our process, which informs all of the careful considerations we make when meeting and getting to know our prospective students and families. Please rest assured that — although this year's admissions cycle will unfold mostly online — we are deeply committed to maintaining our highest level of care in supporting you through the process and ensuring the experience is a meaningful one for you and your child, should you choose to apply.


The Ethical Culture Fieldston School has two elementary divisions: Ethical Culture, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and Fieldston Lower, located on our campus in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Both divisions serve students in Pre-K through 5th Grade.

"Ethics is the foundation of everything we do at the School. In a lot of schools you talk about issues in the world. At this school, we then say, ‘So, what can we do?’” — Rob Cousins, Principal of Ethical Culture

Learn more about Ethical Culture

"At Fieldston Lower, we want our students to understand that learning is not something you do in isolation or by yourself — it’s something you do in a community." — Joe McCauley, Principal of Fieldston Lower

Learn more about Fieldston Lower

Choosing a division

Applicant families indicate which of our two elementary divisions they are applying to on their application. If you are interested in either elementary division, you can indicate this on your application as well.

Pre-K–1st Grade

Our application deadline for Pre-K–1st Grade for the 2022-2023 academic year has now passed.

Age requirements

Applicants for Pre-K must be four years old by September 1, 2022. Kindergarten applicants must be five years old by September 1, 2022. 1st Grade applicants must be six years old by September 1, 2022. 

Things you'll need to submit

  • Application

  • School report form for Pre-K

  • School report form for Kindergarten and 1st Grade

  • $100 application fee or fee waiver

Note: School reports can be initiated using our online application portal. If you require a fillable PDF of a school report or teacher recommendation form, please contact our office. 

We do not require or accept standardized testing for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade applicants.

Your virtual play assessment

Regardless of which elementary division you’re applying to, all Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade* applicants will be scheduled for a virtual play assessment where they will engage in age-appropriate activities with one of our early childhood admissions assessors. Applicants are assessed one-on-one for 20–40 minutes (depending on grade) via Google Meet. Once you have submitted your application, we will reach out via email to schedule your child’s assessment and a parent/guardian interview.

*1st Grade applicants applying only to our Ethical Culture division will not be scheduled for a virtual play assessment as 1st Grade is an attrition-based entry point for that division. Families applying to 1st Grade who indicate on their application that they would like to be considered at both elementary divisions will be scheduled for a virtual play assessment. 

Your interview and virtual visit

Families applying to Pre-K, Kindergarten, or 1st Grade* will be scheduled to attend a required, virtual one-on-one parent/guardian interview with a member of the Lower School admissions team via Google Meet. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to register for one of our virtual campus visits, which take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings throughout the fall. Our hope is that all admitted families will have the opportunity to visit campus in-person prior to enrolling. 

*Fieldston Lower Only


Attrition-based admission to ECFS: 2nd Grade–5th Grade

Things you’ll need to submit

  • Application (Please contact us at admissions@ecfs.org to request an application for attrition-based consideration.)

  • School report form

  • Teacher recommendation form 

  • Official school transcript

  • $100 application fee or fee waiver

Note: School reports and teacher recommendation requests can be initiated using our online application portal. If you require a fillable PDF of a school report or teacher recommendation form, please contact our office. We recognize the unusual nature of both this academic year and last; if you would like to submit additional teacher recommendations for previous academic years in addition to the required recommendations, we would welcome them.

Your interview and virtual visit 

Parents/guardians of students applying to 2nd Grade through 5th Grade at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School will be invited to attend a virtual event using Google Meet specifically for families applying to an attrition-based grade. During this event, families will learn more about the division to which they have applied, learn more about the attrition-based application process, and they will have the opportunity to virtually meet with lower school administrators, teachers, and members of the admissions team. If we anticipate a possible opening in the grade to which you are applying, we will schedule a virtual parent interview and your child will be invited to schedule a one-on-one assessment via Google Meet. 


Sibling, alumni, and faculty/staff applicants

Sibling, alumni, and faculty/staff applicants are given special consideration during the admissions process. We strive to keep families together at ECFS. However, due to the sheer quantity of applications we receive, admission is not automatic nor guaranteed. All applicants (regardless of prior family connection to the School) are evaluated according to the same criteria, and all admission decisions consider the best interest of each individual child. It is wonderful that the number of sibling, alumni, and faculty/staff families applying to ECFS continues to increase. While we value ECFS’s community of siblings, alumni, and faculty/staff, we are also committed to providing access to new families whose values and goals reflect the School’s mission. We ask that our sibling, alumni, and faculty/staff applicants submit their applications by Monday 10/4.