Durham, North Carolina, is one of the best places you could call home. It has many nicknames, including the Bull City, The “Dirty D”, the Tastiest Town in the South, the Startup Capital of the South, and the City of Medicine. If you’re not sure why the city sounds so familiar, it’s probably because it’s the location of Duke University, it has 300+ medical facilities, and it’s home to the famous Research Triangle Park.

In a matter of hours, you can get to the ocean or the mountains, making Durham a great spot to live for families who like to explore. It’s also a short commute to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, which is perfect for travel enthusiasts. 

As someone considering moving to Durham with kids, you probably have a lot of questions (e.g., cost of living, housing, etc.). One question we hear a lot is about schools. So, in this blog, we’re going to make things easy on you and cover the very best schools in Durham, NC.

Let’s get started!

Durham City Ballpark

How do you find the best schools in Durham?

Many questions come into play when deciding on the best schools in Durham. A good thing to do is ask yourself: 

Bellhop - "Best Movers Ever'
  • Does a public or private school in Durham make more sense? (Consider the price of private schools, the overall academic ratings, and the classes/clubs/activities your kids are interested in.) 
  • What percentage of students are math and reading proficient? 
  • What is the graduation rate? 

For more information about schools in Durham, read on!

How are public schools in Durham?

The public schools in Durham are above average in general. According to Public School Review, 42% of students are math proficient, and 47% are reading proficient in the state of North Carolina. The math proficiency at Durham Public Schools is a bit lower than the state average, coming in at 29%. The reading proficiency is also lower, coming in at 39%, per reports

As for the graduation rate, it’s 87% in North Carolina. The graduation rate at Durham Public Schools is 84% as of the most recent school year, going up 3% over the last five years. 

The thing to know about Durham, though, is that Durham Public Schools isn’t the only option. There are many other school districts in the area, all with varying ratings. Do your research on the different suburbs and parts of the city to see which is the best fit for your family. Then, check out the schools nearby, as well as their ratings. It’ll make your job much easier!

Top-rated public schools in Durham

Here are some of the best schools in Durham, NC:

Best Elementary Schools in Durham, NC:

Best Middle Schools in Durham, NC:

Best High Schools in Durham, NC:

What private schools are in Durham?

There are 355 private schools in the area. What’s at the top of the list for the best private schools in Durham, NC?

Other great options for private schools in Durham include: 

high school students studying

What are suburban Durham schools like?

Suburban Durham schools are what you might expect: generally safe and a low ratio of students to teachers. Throughout the suburbs, you’ll find many top-ranked schools with advanced placement classes, rigorous academic programs, and a plethora of clubs and activities. 

The Better Way to Move

If you want a good school for your children in Durham, the suburbs are a wonderful place to start. Not only will you not have to commute as long to take your kids to school, but you’ll also get a warm, friendly, small-town vibe with quick access to the city when you need it. 

What suburbs have particularly good school systems?

There are many nice suburbs of Durham, including Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough, which have above-average schools. We’ll start with Carrboro. This is considered the top town to live in throughout Orange County (at least for the purposes of schools), boasting an A+ for its public schools and family-friendliness. About 21,237 people live there. 

One resident says, “It’s a cool, graduate student and young family-friendly little town. You can find great restaurants and great community programs. It’s a small town but there are different people from different many countries with complete different backgrounds and that’s what I like about Carrboro, diversity! Also, they have a really good school system especially for ESL and EL(English learner students like myself).

Moving onto Chapel Hill, this is another suburb that has made the list of the best towns in all of North Carolina to call home. Roughly 60,920 people reside in Chapel Hill, which has top-rated schools and diversity. (In fact, it’s ranked #2 for the best public schools in the state.)

Hillsborough is another great suburb appreciated for its top-notch academic ratings. About 9,342 residents live in Hillsborough. One thing people like about this area is that it’s virtually in the center of the Research Triangle and is in close proximity to some highly rated colleges. That means that whether you work in the Triangle or at one of the many colleges nearby, Hillsborough could be a great place to live.

What are the best school districts in Durham?

These are a few of the top school districts in the greater Durham area: 

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is the best school district in the state. There are 11,926 students between grades PK and K-12. The math proficiency is 64%, and the reading proficiency is 67%. AP and gifted programs are both available in this school district. 

Orange County Schools

Located in Hillsborough, this school district is another one of the top-rated districts in the Durham and Raleigh area. The student population is roughly 7,074 between grades PK and K-12. Math and reading proficiency levels are 43% and 46%. Like the district above, this school district has many advanced academic programs that could be great to challenge your kids. 

Durham Public Schools

Approximately 32,005 kids attend Durham Public Schools between grades PK and K-12. The math proficiency sits at 32%, with reading being 37%. Gifted programs, AP classes, and IB programs are all options at this school district. 

Good luck with your school search

There’s nothing like narrowing down the best schools in Durham to help you feel more comfortable about moving there with kids. We hope you feel more equipped to find good schools after reading this blog. Now, when you’re ready to make your move, remember: you’re not alone! Bellhop can help. We have local Durham Movers and offer long-distance moving services in Durham, NC. We’re happy to lend a hand when you need us. 

Book a move online today.

Other Durham Guides

Durham Moving Guide

The Best Neighborhoods for Families in Durham

Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill?

Best Up and Coming Neighborhoods in Durham

Best Durham Neighborhoods

Tyler Brown