10 Best Boarding Schools in the United States – 2022 Edition (2023)

If you are considering spending grades 9-12 at a boarding school, then you are about to make a financial investment every bit as a sizable as the cost of tuition and living expenses at a private college. Fortunately for you, in 2022, there is no shortage of excellent boarding institutions in the United States, some of which date back to the 1700s, much like the Ivy League universities to which they send large numbers of graduates each year. Yet, in addition to the more famous names (which are mostly concentrated in New England), there are also schools in places like Texas, California, and Washington D.C. that may not have hundreds of years of history under their belt, but also cater to the country’s most talented teens.

The following top 10 list is not intended to represent of any type of ranking system, but rather, simply to provide prospective students and their parents with a detailed overview of each school. In fact, we also included an additional ten schools that are “in the same league” academically. All of the schools profiled below have expert faculty, impressive course offerings, exceptionally high average SAT/ACT scores, selective admissions processes, and a history of sending graduates to the top colleges in the country. For each of our top 10 institutions, College Transitions will provide you with the school’s:

  • 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 the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1) Phillips Exeter Academy

Location: Exeter, NH

Tuition: $57,563

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Average SAT Score: 1450

Average ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 313 students

College Admissions Highlights:

Between 2017-19, fifteen or more students matriculated into Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley, and Yale. Over 10 students were admitted into UC Berkeley, NYU, Northwestern, USC, and Stanford.

Academic Highlights:

  • 24 Class of 2020 members were National Merit Semifinalists and 68 qualified as National Merit Commended Scholars.
  • 66% of staff members have a master’s degree and 23% 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: $57,800

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Average SAT Score: 1460

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 305

College Admissions Highlights:

Over the past three years (Classes of 2018-2020), 30+ students have matriculated into 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 began 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% of exams.
  • 300+ courses are offered.
  • The 50th percentile SAT scores are 670-760 on the reading section and 690-790 on the math section.

3) Choate Rosemary Hall

Location: Wallingford, CT

Tuition: $62,960

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Average SAT Score: 1443

Average ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 237

College Admissions Highlights:

In the past five years, the greatest number of Choate grads have enrolled at: Yale (53), NYU (50), Columbia (44), University of Chicago (43), Boston College (32), Brown (30), Georgetown (29), Cornell (27), Harvard (23), and Amherst (20).

Academic Highlights:

  • 70% of AP tests scores were a “4” or a “5”.
  • The Class of 2021 saw 3 NMSP Winners, 16 Finalists, 16 Semifinalists, and 32 Commended Scholars.
  • 85% of students possessed weighted GPAs of 3.75 or higher.
  • An A+ is worth a 4.3 (unweighted) at Choate.

4) Deerfield Academy

Location: Deerfield, MA

Tuition: $66,100

Acceptance Rate: 17%

Average SAT Score: 1371

Average ACT Score: 30

Senior Class Size: 191

College Admissions Highlights:

In the last five years, 30 or more Deerfield grads have entered Brown University, Cornell, Columbia, Georgetown, and the University of Virginia. Greater than 20 students have matriculated into Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, and Princeton.

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 the 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: $62,000

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Average SAT Score: 1389

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 138

College Admissions Highlights:

Over the past four years, the colleges most frequently attended by St. Paul’s graduates include: Georgetown (27), Brown (28), Cornell (17), Harvard (15), Columbia (21), Penn (14), Yale (19), Middlebury (8), Boston College (12), University of Chicago (12), and the University of Virginia (15).

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 37 U.S. States and 13 countries.

6) Groton School

Location: Groton, MA

Tuition: $59,140

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Average SAT Score: 1425

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 95

College Admissions Highlights:

From 2017-2021, the largest numbers of graduates have enrolled at Georgetown University (24), the University of Chicago (27), Harvard (21), Brown (15), Yale (15), Princeton (14), Columbia (10), University of St. Andrews (10), and Boston College (10).

Academic Highlights:

  • The average class size is 11 students.
  • The student/faculty ratio is 4:1.
  • 78% of faculty members possess advanced degrees.
  • From 2017-21, students took 2,441 AP exams.
  • 71% of students scored a “4” or “5” on their AP exams.

7) The Lawrenceville School

Location: Lawrenceville, NJ

Tuition: $68,870

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Median SAT Score: 1490

Median ACT Score: 33

Senior Class Size: 204

College Admissions Highlights:

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: $71,441

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

Median SAT Score: 1460

Median ACT Score: 32

Senior Class Size: 79

College Admissions Highlights:

As of 2021, over the past five years, St. Albans graduates have flocked to: the University of Chicago (36), Yale (18), Tulane (16), Dartmouth (16), Columbia (12), Georgetown (12), Harvard (10), Bates (8), Davidson (9), Wake Forest (8), and Washington & Lee (7).

Academic Highlights

  • The average class size is 13 students.
  • The student/faculty ratio is 7:1.
  • 80% 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: $64,000

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Mid-50% SAT Range: 1350-1550

Mid-50% ACT Range: 30-34

Senior Class Size: 92

College Admissions Highlights:

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: $67,940

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Average SAT Score: 1406

Average ACT Score: 31

Senior Class Size: 64

College Admissions Highlights:

The most commonly attended schools by Thacher graduates from 2017-2021 were as follows: Colorado College (15), Dartmouth (12), USC (10), Occidental (8), Yale (8), Santa Clara (7), Scripps (7), and the University of Chicago (7).

  • The average class size is 11 students.
  • 18 AP courses are offered at Thacher.
  • 72% 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

Additional boarding schools that are found near the top of any ranking system, and 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 seven members of the Class of 2021 gain acceptance into Harvard University.

Cranbrook Schools (Bloomfield Hills, MI): Over 800 students who excel as much on the playing field as in the classroom, 9 members of the Cranbrook Class of 2021 earned acceptances at Ivy League institutions and 77 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 630 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 the likes of 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 in excess of 1400.

The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, CT): The SAT mid-50% range is 1320-1530 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 one recent fiver-year period.

10 Best Boarding Schools in the United States – 2022 Edition (1)

Dave Bergman

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).


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