List of Top 10 Boarding Schools in the United States

Jun 26, 2021

If you are a parent and planning for your child to spend 9-12 at a boarding school, then you are about to make a financial investment every bit as significant as the cost of tuition and living expenses at a private college. 

Luckily for your child, there is no shortage of top boarding institutions in the United States, some of which have been founded back to the 1700s, much like the Ivy League universities to which they send large numbers of graduates each year. 

However, in addition to the famous names, which are primarily located in New England, schools in places like California, Texas, and Washington D.C. may not have hundreds of years of history under their belt but also cater to the country’s most outstanding teens.

The below-mentioned top 10 lists are not intended to represent any type of ranking system but instead simply provide prospective students and their parents with a comprehensive overview of each school. 

We also added ten schools that are “in the same league” academically. All of the schools profiled below have proficient faculty, unique course offerings, extraordinarily high average SAT/ACT scores, selective admissions processes, and a history of sending graduates to the top colleges in the country. To make it easier for you, we will provide you with the schools:

  • Location
  • Tuition
  • Acceptance Rate
  • Average SAT Score
  • Average ACT Score
  • Senior Class Size
  • College Admissions Highlights
  • Academic Highlights

We begin with two schools started by different members of the same prominent family shortly after signing the Declaration of Independence.

1) Phillips Exeter Academy

Location: Exeter, NH

Tuition: $49,880

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Average SAT Score: 1470

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 313 students

College Selections:

The Class of 2018 saw 15+ acceptances into Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Williams, and Yale. Over ten students were admitted into UC Berkeley, Chicago, Cornell, Stanford, Wellesley, and NYU.

Academic Highlights:

  • Twenty-three seniors were National Merit Semifinalists, and 76 qualified as National Merit Commended Scholars.
  • 64% of staff members have a master’s degree, and 24% hold a doctorate.
  • The average class size is 12 students.
  • The student/teacher ratio is 5:1.
  • 60% of courses available are accelerated/at a college level.

2) Phillips Academy Andover

Location: Andover, MA

Tuition: $53,900

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Average SAT Score: 1446

Average ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 305

College Selections:

For the past three years (Classes of 2018-2020), 30+ students have enrolled at Harvard, Tufts, the University of Chicago, Penn, and Yale. Over 20 students have enrolled at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, MIT, NYU, and UVA. Double-digits have also begun their studies at Amherst, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Georgetown, and Williams.

Academic Highlights:

  • The average class size is 13 students.
  • There were 33 Merit Semifinalists in 2019.
  • Students score a “5” on 58% of AP tests and a “4” on 27%.
  • 300+ courses are offered.
  • The 50th percentile SAT scores are 680-760 on the reading section and 690-790 on the math section.

3) Choate Rosemary Hall

Location: Wallingford, CT

Tuition: $60,950

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Average SAT Score: 1394

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 245

College Selections:

In the past three years, the most significant number of Choate grads have enrolled at Yale (54), Columbia (29), Boston College (37), Harvard (27), Brown (26), Cornell (26), Penn (25), and Middlebury (24).

Academic Highlights:

  • Students scored a “4” or “5” on 79% of AP tests. However…
  • The school no longer offers AP courses; they are now designated as “Honors.”
  • The Class of 2018 saw 2 NMSP Winners, 8 Finalists, 9 Semifinalists, and 21 Commended Scholars.
  • The average SAT Subject Test scores are over 700 in Math II and Physics.
  • Only 13 of 245 students earned above a 4.0 unweighted GPA.

4) Deerfield Academy

Location: Deerfield, MA

Tuition: $60,680

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Average SAT Score: 1390

Average ACT Score: 30

Senior Class Size: 164

College Selections:

In the last five years, 30 or more Deerfield graduates have entered Brown University, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, and Virginia. Greater than 20 students have enrolled into Duke, Bowdoin, Harvard, and the University of Chicago.

Academic Highlights:

  • The average Class of 2020 member took 3.17 AP exams.
  • 36% of AP exam scores were “5”s, and 31% were “4”s.
  • Only one member of 2020 earned a 95% or above GPA in their junior year.
  • 75% of faculty have advanced degrees.
  • The student/teacher ratio is 5:1.

5) St. Paul’s School

Location: Concord, New Hampshire

Tuition: $59,900

Acceptance Rate: 17%

Average SAT Score: 1389

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 138

College Selections:

Over the past four years, the colleges most frequently attended by St. Paul’s graduates are Georgetown (25), Brown (23), Cornell (21), Harvard (19), Columbia (16), Dartmouth (16), Yale (16), Middlebury (12), Boston College (11), University of Chicago (11), and the University of Virginia (11).

Academic Highlights:

  • The student-to-faculty ratio is 5:1.
  • 81% of faculty have advanced degrees.
  • The average faculty member has been teaching at the school for over a decade.
  • The median student GPA is 3.78.
  • Students come from 40 U.S. States and 18 countries.

6) Groton School

Location: Groton, MA

Tuition: $55,700

Acceptance Rate: 12%

Average SAT Score: 1450

Average ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 95

College Selections:

From 2015-2019, the most significant numbers of graduates have enrolled at Georgetown University (26), the University of Chicago (24), Harvard (22), Brown (17), NYU (15), Princeton (12), Yale (12), Dartmouth (11), Hamilton College (9), Northwestern (9), and Tufts (9).

Academic Highlights:

  • The average class size is 11 students.
  • The student/faculty ratio is 4:1.
  • 76% of faculty members possess advanced degrees.
  • From 2015-19, students took 2,394 AP exams.
  • 72% of students scored a “4” or “5” on their AP exams.

7) The Lawrenceville School

Location: Lawrenceville, NJ

Tuition: $62,190

Acceptance Rate: 21%

Median SAT Score: 1490

Median ACT Score: 33

Senior Class Size: 205

College Selections:

Among the Classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019, the greatest number of Lawrenceville grads have gone on to attend NYU (35), Princeton (31), Penn (27), the University of Chicago (24), Cornell (22), Georgetown (21), Brown (20), Columbia (18), Yale (17), and Tufts (16).

Academic Highlights:

  • 18 of the 110 faculty members possess doctoral degrees, and 68 earned master’s degrees.
  • The average class size is 12 students.
  • The student/faculty ratio is 8:1.
  • 80% of students earned a “4” or above on the 524 AP exams taken.
  • In 2019, they produced two National Merit Scholarship Winners, 14 Finalists, 16 Semifinalists, and 50 Commended Scholars.

8) St. Albans School (Boys)

Location: Washington, DC

Tuition: $59,892

Acceptance Rate: 48% (includes 4-12th grade; 9th grade is more competitive)

Median SAT Score: 1460

Median ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 80

College Selections:

Over the past five years, St. Alban’s graduates have flocked to the University of Chicago (38), Yale (16), Tulane (13), Dartmouth (12), Columbia (10), Georgetown (10), Penn (10), Bates (9), Brown (9), Davidson (9), Wake Forest (9), Princeton (8) and Amherst (7).

Academic Highlights

  • The average class size is 13 students.
  • The student/faculty ratio is 7:1.
  • 67% of faculty members hold advanced degrees.
  • The average faculty member has 11 years of experience at the school.
  • The school offers coordinated academic, artistic, and athletic programs with the National Cathedral School for Girls.

9) The Hockaday School (Girls)

Location: Dallas, TX

Tuition: $63,139

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Mid-50% SAT Range: 1350-1550

Mid-50% ACT Range: 30-34

Senior Class Size: 92

College Selections:

The most popular schools where grads enroll include Lone Star State options like the University of Texas, Austin, and Southern Methodist University, as well as elite institutions all over the nation like USC, NYU, the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Columbia, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Penn.

Academic Highlights:

  • 93% of AP test-takers scored a “3” or better on their exams.
  • 76 of 117 faculty members have master’s degrees; 14 have doctoral degrees.
  • The average class size is 15 students.
  • The student/teacher ratio is 10:1.
  • 18 AP courses are offered at Hockaday.

10) The Thacher School

Location: Ojai, CA

Tuition: $62,810

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Average SAT Score: 1450

Average ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 64

College Selections:

The most commonly attended schools by Thacher graduates from 2015-2019 were as follows: Colorado College (12), Stanford (11), Claremont McKenna (10), Dartmouth (10), USC (10), Harvard (8), Scripps (7), Yale (7), Cornell (6), Duke (6), Northwestern (6), Pomona (6), Tufts (6), the University of Chicago (6), and Wesleyan (6).

Academic Highlights:

  • The average class size is 11 students.
  • 18 AP courses are offered at Thacher.
  • Over 80% of faculty members hold advanced degrees.
  • The student/faculty ratio is 6:1.
  • The Visiting Scholars program brings influential people to campus for special performances and lectures.

Other Top-Ranked Boarding Schools, Honourable mentions

Other top-ranked boarding schools are of comparable quality to those highlighted above include:

Milton Academy (Milton, MA): Average class sizes of 14 students and a faculty comprised of 75% advanced degree-holders helped ten members of the Class of 2019 gain acceptance into Harvard University.

Cranbrook Schools (Bloomfield Hills, MI): Over 800 students excel as much on the playing field as in the classroom, 11 members of the Cranbrook Class of 2018 earned acceptances at Ivy League institutions, and 121 students earned an acceptance at an Ivy-equivalent institution.

Cate School (Carpinteria, CA): One of the most sought-after boarding schools on the West Coast, 60% of Cate grads matriculate into the 25 top-ranked colleges in the United States.

Noble and Greenough School (Dedham, MA): With an acceptance rate of 20%, the 628 students in this 7-12 school go on to earn superb SAT scores, with 46% scoring above a 700 on the reading section and 50% above a 700 on the math portion.

St. Andrew’s School (Middletown, DE): A small school with roughly 300 students, multiple recent grads have entered UVA, Yale, Bates, Emory, Middlebury, the University of Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon.

Middlesex School (Concord, MA): Founded in 1901, this “young” New England boarding school has a 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio and average SAT scores over 1400.

The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, CT): The SAT mid-50% range is 1360-1510, and this talented group matriculates in impressive numbers at NYU, Georgetown, Cornell, Yale, the University of Chicago, Harvard, and Princeton.

Concord Academy (Concord, MA): The less-than-100 students per cohort enjoy a student/teacher ratio of 6:1, and an average SAT score of 1440.

The Taft School (Watertown, CT): More than 200 courses are offered at this school that, in the last five years, has seen a dozen or more graduates enter each of Cornell, Georgetown, Union College, UVA, Tufts, NYU, Wesleyan, and Penn.

The Loomis Chaffee School (Windsor, CT): Chartered in 1874, this elite institution sports mid-50% SAT ranges of 1250-1490 and has graduated 10 National Merit Semifinalist and 89 National Merit Commended Scholars in the last five years.

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