The 50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S.

1 Phillips Exeter Academy

Phillips Exeter AcademyMore commonly known as Exeter, this New Hampshire school has been the unofficial feeder for Harvard for decades, serving boys and girls in grades 9--12 (post-graduate year available).
Students choose from more than 450 courses in 19 subject areas in true Exeter style: The Harkness method, the plan that calls for dialogue-based learning. The one-of-a-kind math curriculum focuses on problem sets and seminar-based learning, tossing traditional textbooks aside in favor of student-owned learning processes. More than 80% of the faculty are advanced degree--holders.
Since 2007, Exeter has implemented a financial aid initiative that provides a free education to any student whose family income is $75,000 or less, making a truly wealthy, world-class education available to anybody who qualifies for the rigorous course of study.
  • Percentage of students who board: 80%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $46,905
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 46%
  • Notable alumni: Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook), Dan Brown (author), Christopher Kimball (Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen)

2 Phillips Academy (Andover)

Phillips Andover AcademyLocated in Andover, Massachusetts, Phillips Academy was founded in 1778,and is the oldest incorporated boarding school in the United States. Andover (as it is universally known) has the historic significance of being an original feeder school for Yale. It was also the first private secondary school to establish and implement a need-blind admission policy. Andover is able to meet 100% of a family's demonstrated financial need by way of grants.
Like its arch-rival Exeter, Andover's faculty is composed of 80% advanced degree--holders. The school, which also uses the Harkness method and is equally rich in tradition, offers a wide array of music classes---many students take private lessons through the prep school at nearby New England Conservatory. Beyond academics, all Andover students participate in a work-duty program and are assigned to different jobs throughout the year.
  • Percentage of students who board: 75%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $48,850
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 47%
  • Notable alumni: George W. Bush, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Lemmon, Julia Alvarez

3 The Putney School

The Putney SchoolFounded in 1935, the Putney School in Vermont offers a rigorous yet progressive, hands-on education to students in grades 9--12. Students here are encouraged to pursue their personal academic interests, as well as to “present their thinking in coherent and compelling ways.”
This approach is certainly working. Graduates gain entrance to the very best schools in the country; they attend Ivies like Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Cornell, as well as schools like Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, and Boston College.
In addition to academics, students participate in an arts-based program two nights a week and must satisfy six jobs during their stay---lunch, dinner, barn crew, dish crew, substitute, and land-use activities---which helps instill in them a different kind of work ethic not generally found in the classroom.
  • Percentage of students who board: 79%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $50,800
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 43%
  • Notable alumni: Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn), Nell Newman (founder of Newman's Own), Felicity Huffman (actress)

4 Church Farm School

Church Farm SchoolThe Church Farm School, located in Exton, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1918, as a college preparatory, independent, boarding school for boys in grades 7--12. Loyal to its name and its Episcopal heritage, the school requires attendance at weekly chapel services and meetings.
Students at CFS are required to take part in the co-curricular C.O.R.E. (Challenge Of Required Experience) program, which provides opportunities for community service, outdoor experiences, leadership training, and exposure to cultural arts. Graduates often attend schools such as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Emory, MIT, Princeton, Rice, Notre Dame, and Penn.
  • Percentage of students who board: 90%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $34,300
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 90%
  • Notable alumni: Talmadge O'Neill (Silicon Valley entrepreneur), Chris Raab (actor), Michael Eric (NBA)
  • Church Farm is also featured amongst "The 30 Best Christian Boarding Schools."

5 Episcopal High School

Episcopal High SchoolLocated just seven miles from the White House in Alexandria, Virginia, Episcopal High School is a private, coeducational school that boards 100% of its students, which contributes to a thriving campus community. As its name suggests, the school has a religious affiliation and all students are required to attend chapel three times a week.
Proximity to the nation's capital has resulted in the development of the school's signature Washington Program, which offers four concentrations: Public Policy, Sustainability, Cultural Awareness, and Entrepreneurship. Sophomores dabble in each concentration, select one the following year, and engage in a year-long project and externship during their final year.
More than 85% of faculty hold advanced degrees and teach over 140 courses. In recent years, Episcopal students matriculate in high numbers at William and Mary, Duke, Wake Forest, Washington & Lee, UVA, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Sewanee.
  • Percentage of students who board: 100%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $49,700
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 32%
  • Notable alumni: Senator John McCain, Bryson Spinner (NFL)

6 St. Paul's School

St. Paul's SchoolFounded in 1856 in Concord, New Hampshire, St. Paul's School is an all-boarding school for students in grades 9--12. The school offers a post-graduate year. Not only do all of the students live on campus, but all of the faculty do, too, which works to promote a close, spirited campus community. The community also begins four days of the week with chapel services. In order to ease the transition to campus life, each new student is assigned a "big brother" or "big sister."
Classes are rigorous and implement the Harkness method; colleges with the highest matriculation of St. Paul's alumni include Georgetown, Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Harvard. Rather than having physical education classes, St. Paul's requires all its students to play sports.
In order to make a St. Paul's education more affordable, students from household incomes of $80,000 or less are considered full financial need.
  • Percentage of students who board: 100%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $52,200
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 33% (need-based grants)
  • Notable alumni: Secretary of State John Kerry, John Jacob Astor IV, Judd Nelson (actor)

7 Asheville School

Asheville SchoolIn the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina, lies the Asheville School, a private coeducational boarding school founded in 1900 for students in grades 9--12. Students here learn to challenge themselves academically and personally. The natural setting of the area invites mountaineering: all first-year student go on a three-day wilderness camping trip complete with a high-ropes course. They also take a series of seminars designed to orient them to Asheville School.
Academics mirror the rigor of the outdoor adventure through the four-year sequence of the Integrated Humanities program. Seniors must also complete a Senior Demonstration that requires them to write a series of papers on a chosen topic and defend the topic to a faculty panel. Seniors also give “Chapel Talks” in which they make oral presentations on personal and significant ideas or experiences in front of the entire campus community.
The community service requirement---one that is common among boarding schools---differs at Asheville in that students complete 40 hours of service for one organization and submit an essay about that experience to the headmaster.
In addition to Ivies, students attend Bates, Boston College, Davidson, Furman, University of Richmond, and West Point.
  • Percentage of students who board: 80%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $47,375
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30%
  • Notable alumni: Dr. D. Ralph Millard (plastic surgery pioneer), Edward Gaylord (media mogul), Pete Dye, Jr. (world-renowned golf course designer), Jennifer Phar-Davis (fastest hiker through the Appalachian Trail)

8 Shattuck-St. Mary's School

Shattuck-St. Mary's SchoolFounded in 1858, Shattuck-St. Mary's is an independent coeducational boarding school in Faribault, Minnesota, and serves students in grades 6--12. The school also offers a post-graduate year. SSM provides a unique blend of tradition and innovation to their students.
The school maintains its traditional Episcopalian identity and offers weekly chapel services, classes in religion, and the saying of grace before lunch. Students must also fulfill a community service requirement for graduation.
On the academic front, Shattuck-St. Mary's offers signature multi-year, experiential programs through their Centers of Excellence in bioscience, engineering, numerous sports (notably ice hockey), or a self-designed major. SSM also has a unique pre-conservatory program for students interested in attending the nation's top music schools. Students gain entrance into top-tier colleges and universities with the highest enrollments at Penn State, Boston University, University of Washington, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Percentage of students who board: 75%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $45, 425
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 100%
  • Notable alumni: Townes Van Zandt (poet, musician), Brent Musburger (sportscaster), Jimmy Chin (National Geographic photographer and mountain climber), and numerous NHL players and Olympians in ice hockey

9 St. Andrew's School

St. Andrew's SchoolIf you've ever seen Dead Poets Society, you've seen the campus of St. Andrew's in Middletown, Delaware---the movie was filmed almost entirely on school grounds. Committed to its Episcopalian identity, St. Andrew's is an all-boarding, coed private school for students in grades 9--12. Along with the all-boarding requirement, family-style meals during the week (where students take turns waiting tables) help ensure a close-knit community on campus. St. Andrew's requires chores of students (which are usually in the student's dorm and rotate regularly).
Academics are rigorous and graduates attend Ivy League schools and other top-tiers like NYU and Vanderbilt. Seniors take spring tutorials which are reading and writing intensive, in which three students meet in a course specifically designed by faculty members across a range of disciplines in the spirit of the Oxford tutorial method, and then defend an original thesis to the English Department.
True to its heritage, St. Andrew's offers a Pipes & Drums ensemble that gives students the opportunity to learn and perform the bagpipes or learn field drumming, and requires attendance at chapels and Sunday service. Lastly, the school can meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for students.
  • Percentage of students who board: 100%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,500
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 47%
  • Notable alumni: Erin Burnett (CNN journalist), Loudon Wainright, Jr. (Life magazine columnist), Eric Boateng (basketball player)
  • St. Andrew is also featured amongst "The 30 Best Christian Boarding Schools."

10 The Thacher School

The Thacher SchoolFounded in 1889, the Thacher School in Ojai, California, is the oldest coed boarding school in the state. Nearly 90% of students live on campus, which naturally contributes to a strong campus community along with Formal Dinners four nights a week and seven-day-long camping trips each semester.
Freshmen not only have a single room during their first year at Thacher, they also learn to appreciate the value of good old-fashioned hard work through the mandatory Horse Program, where they learn all the basics of horsemanship (both caretaking and riding). Through this program, students develop a higher sense of self-esteem, along with problem-solving skills and responsibility. Students also take at least one overnight horse-packing trip during the year.
Life within the classroom walls encourages the same development of responsibility and critical thinking, with seniors developing, researching, and presenting their senior thesis in Senior Exhibitions. College acceptances and matriculations for Thacher students are highest at Stanford, NYU, Dartmouth, George Washington, MIT, Colorado College, Tufts, Harvard, Duke, Wesleyan, Bowdoin, Middlebury, USC, Berkeley, and many more.
  • Percentage of students who board: 93%
  • Boarding tuition: $58,920
  • Day tuition: $40,970
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%
  • Average class size: 11
  • Student:Teacher Ratio: 6:1
  • Total Students: 246
  • Percent international: 12%
  • Notable alumni: Howard Hughes (aviator, filmmaker, and industrialist), Thornton Wilder (writer), Noah Wyle (actor)
  • Average SAT Score: 1920 - 2150
    • Critical Thinking: 640 - 740
      Math: 620 - 740
      Writing: 650 - 720
  • Average ACT Score: 30
  • Endowment size: $137.3 million
  • Percent Faculty with Advanced Degrees: 83%
  • Percent on Financial Aid: 29%
  • Average Financial Aid Grant: $44,620 (from $41,400)

11 Deerfield Academy

Deerfield AcademyFounded in 1797, Deerfield Academy is an independent, coed boarding school in Western Massachusetts for students in grades 9--12. Deerfield also offers a post-graduate year.
An impressive 89% of the faculty hold advanced degrees in their subject areas. Deerfield prepares its students well academically, as evidenced by the fact that the most graduates have attended Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and UVA over the past four years. Of particular note is the approach of cultivating personal interests and a sense of community.
The inscription on the Deerfield Academy seal reads: "Be Worthy of Your Heritage." At Deerfield, it is understood that "heritage" means more than just the legacy of those who came before. It is an all-encompassing identity and set of core values that the community lives by. Respecting and valuing this heritage is the reason for traditions like sit-down meals and the singing of the Evensong, but it is also the reason the Academy reestablished coeducation in 1989 and continues to develop a curriculum and campus to meet the educational demands of the 21st century.
Deerfield also boasts a thriving alumni network of 12,000-plus. Students are required to participate in a co-curricular each term. Financial aid is distributed by way of grants for those who demonstrate financial need; full-need grants cover up to 98% of costs.
  • Percentage of students who board: 88%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $52,615
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 35%
  • Notable alumni: Nelson Doubleday, Jr. (publisher), King Abdullah-II al Hussein of Jordan, Michael Glazer (television producer), and Henry W. Kendall (Nobel prize--winning physicist)

12 Choate Rosemary Hall

Choate Rosemary Hall Founded in 1890, Choate Rosemary Hall is a private coed boarding school located in Wallingford, Connecticut, that enrolls students in grades 9--12. Choate also offers a post-graduate year.
What really sets Choate apart is its extensive menu of course offerings---students can choose from more than 300 classes. Within that framework, students can also focus on programs unique to Choate, like the interdisciplinary Environmental Immersion program, the Modern Standard Arabic program, or the arts program. Students work with their advisers on a capstone project within a concentration---a rated course of study culminating in the final term of the senior year.
Choate is fortunate to be able to cover 100% of costs for students with demonstrated financial need.
  • Percentage of students who board: 77%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,100
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30%
  • Notable alumni: novelist John Dos Passos, publisher James Laughlin, President John F. Kennedy, Illinois Governor and two-time Democratic presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson, II, musicologist Alan Lomax, lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner, playwright Edward Albee, actors Buck Henry, Ali MacGraw, Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Jamie Lee Curtis

13 Woodberry Forest

Woodberry ForestLocated in Madison County, Virginia, Woodberry Forest is an all-boys, all-boarding school founded in 1889.
A distinct graduation requirement of Woodberry Forest is that every student needs not only to perform 60 hours of community service before graduation, but also to spend at least half of these hours as "contact hours," which means hours “spent in direct contact with those benefitting from their service,” according to the school website. Additionally, all students enroll in a leadership development program.
Woodberry Forest boys attend the Ivies, as well as Washington & Lee, UNC-Chapel hill, UVA, and the University of Richmond.
  • Percentage of students who board: 100%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $50,200
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40%
  • Notable alumni: Johnny Mercer (musician, songwriter), Bosley Crowther (film critic for the New York Times), Paul C.P. McIlhenny (CEO and producer of McIlhenny Co., the Tabasco sauce company), Halsey Minor (founder of CNET networks)

14 Western Reserve Academy

 Western Reserve AcademyFounded in 1828 as the “Yale of the West,” Western Reserve Academy is a private, coeducational boarding school in Hudson, Ohio, serving students in grades 9--12. A post-graduate year is available.
WRA prides itself on long-standing traditions and is one of the only boarding schools that still requires students to adhere to a strict, formal dress code. Other traditions include Friday study breaks that celebrate the coming of the weekend and Wednesday sit-down, family-style lunches with the entire faculty.
In place of Saturday classes, WRA extends learning to the Saturday Academy, a time allotted for in-depth subject study or class meetings. Grads attend Ivies as well as University of Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, Georgetown, NYU, and the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Percentage of students who board: 70%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $51,750
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 39% (grants)
  • Notable alumni: Ian Frazier (author, essayist), Lee Morin (NASA astronaut)

15 Verde Valley School

Verde Valley SchoolFounded in Sedona, Arizona, in 1948, the Verde Valley School is an independent, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9--12. Verde Valley students complete daily morning dorm chores, a weekly work job program, and several community work days throughout the year.
As an International Baccalaureate World School, Verde Valley focuses its course content on IB courses. Current students attend Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Vassar, Stanford, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna, among others.
  • Percentage of students who board: 84%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $43,000
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 54%
  • Notable alumni: Phil Noyes (documentary filmmaker and PBS producer), Chris Lemmon (actor), Carol Tantau (leader in domestic violence prevention)

16 The Taft School

The Taft SchoolFounded in 1890, the Taft School is a coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9--12 located n Watertown, Connecticut. A post-graduate year is available.
Taft students select from more than 200 academic courses or take their own course in the Independent Studies Program, which exists to foster further independence and creativity in learning. Students enjoy access to a thriving alumni network of almost 9,000 active alums of record.
The most recent Taft classes saw large numbers of students enrolls at Yale, Penn, Trinity, Georgetown, Middlebury, and George Washington University.
  • Percentage of students who board: 79%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $52,300
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 36%
  • Notable alumni: Trey Anastasio (Phish), Henry Beard (co-founder of National Lampoon), Mary Chapin Carpenter (Grammy award--winning singer/songwriter)

17 The Orme School

The Orme SchoolJust an hour out of Phoenix in Mayer, Arizona lies The Orme School. Founded in 1929, The Orme School is a unique, college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school for grades 8 through 12. A unique feature of this particular campus is that it is also home to a fully-operating cattle ranch, which serves as a lab for learning in the school's Farm-to-Table program.
In addition to rigorous academics, students are required to participate in the Fine Arts Festival each year as well as attend two “Caravan Trips,” in which faculty members lead classes camping in National Parks or nearby wilderness areas. Students matriculate at Ivies and at Mount Holyoke, Virginia Tech, RPI, NYU, and Seattle Pacific, among others.
  • Percentage of students who board: 96%
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $44,900

18 Rabun Gap--Nacoochee School

Rabun Gap-Nacoochee SchoolLocated in northeast Georgia and founded in 1903, Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is an independent, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 5--12. The school became famous in the late 1960s for the Foxfire magazine project, an experiential education initiative that involved students in interviewing local people and then writing, publishing, and preserving their oral histories.
Rabun Gap affords students unique opportunities unavailable at any other school. For example, the Tallulah Falls Railroad Museum is not only located on campus, but is also owned and operated by the school. Students also have access to a circus skills program---one of the few of its kind in the entire country.  
In addition to challenging academics and one-of-a-kind co-curriculars, all students engage in a campus-wide work program in which they help contribute to the maintenance and improvement of campus buildings, grounds, and programs.
Students gain entrance in to Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Brown, and Emory.
  • Percentage of students who board: 50%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $46,610
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 70% (need and merit-based)
  • Notable alumni: John P. Dillard, Sr. (president and CEO of Dillard House, Inc.)
  • Rabun Gap is also featured amongst "The 30 Best Christian Boarding Schools."

19 Miss Porter's School

Miss Porter's SchoolFounded in 1843 in Farmington, Connecticut, Miss Porter's School is a private boarding school for girls, and was named the top girls' boarding school by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to challenging coursework, students must play in three interscholastic team sport offerings before the start of their senior year. They also receive formal leadership training via themed seminars each year; topics include decision-making, personal awareness, teamwork, problem-solving, and strategic planning.
Students select from over 115 classes, one of which must be an online core class. Girls must complete 30 hours of community service as a graduation requirement. There are nearly 6,000 alumnae worldwide, making an attractive and huge network available to students.
  • Percentage of students who board: 65%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $52,475
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 42% (need and merit-based scholarships)
  • Notable alumnae: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Lillian McKim Pulitzer Rousseau (founder of Lilly Pulitzer, Inc.), Suzannah Grant Henrickson (director and Academy Award--nominated screenwriter), Sarah Blake (New York Times best-selling author)

20 Foxcroft

Foxcroft SchoolFounded in 1914, Foxcroft School is a private boarding school for girls in grades 9--12 located in Middleburg, Virginia. Foxcroft tends to its campus life and nurtures its community. Each dorm is overseen by a full-time housemother whose sole responsibility is ensuring a positive residence life experience for students.
Foxcroft girls have access to a world-renowned equestrian program, as well as vast opportunities in STEM, with a third of graduates choosing STEM majors in college. Students gain entrance into the country's best colleges, including (but not limited to) Barnard, Georgetown, Middlebury, Pratt, Syracuse, Tulane, UCLA, UVA, Virginia Tech, Washington & Lee, Wellesley, and Wesleyan.
  • Percentage of students who board: 72%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $50,900
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30%
  • Notable alumnae: Keshia Knight Pulliam (actress), Frances Fitzgerald (Pulitzer prize--winner), Christine Todd Whitman (former governor of New Jersey)

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