The 50 Best Boarding Schools in the U.S.

by Genevieve Carlton
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Boarding schools immerse students in a challenging academic environment. The top boarding schools also boost the odds of admission for college-bound graduates.

The best boarding schools stand out for their academic excellence, focus on student learning, and dedication to community service. Many top-ranked boarding schools feature a strong track record of college admissions at selective schools. Boarding schools also offer financial aid packages to help families cover the costs.

This page ranks the top boarding schools in the U.S. Families considering these schools can use this information to find the right fit for their unique needs.

Top Boarding Schools in the U.S.

1. Phillips Exeter Academy

More 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)

Located 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

Founded 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

The 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

Located 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

Founded 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

In 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

Founded 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

If 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

Founded 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

Founded 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

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 advisors 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

Located 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

Founded 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

Founded 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

Founded 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

Just 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

Located 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

Founded 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

Founded 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)

21. Trinity-Pawling

Founded in 1907, Trinity-Pawling School is an all-boys boarding school in Duchess County, New York, for grades 7-12. The school retains a strong Episcopalian identity and thus provides a religious chapel service three times a week, in addition to other non-mandatory religious services.

Students receive academic letter grades as well as marks for effort. The Effort Program rates student performance for ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders both in and out of the classroom–for residential life, athletics, clubs, and work–and students are rewarded with different privileges.

Accompanying the traditional college preparatory curriculum is a program in Mandarin Chinese language and culture studies, relevant for any student interested in pursuing business as a college major. Most students matriculate at Trinity College, Syracuse, and St. Lawrence University, as well as the Ivies.

  • Percentage of students who board: 80%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,000
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40% (need-based financial grants)
  • Notable alumni: Kevin McClatchy (senator, CEO, and current president of the Screen Actors Guild)

22. Blair Academy

Located in northwestern New Jersey, Blair Academy was founded in 1848.

Unique to Blair is the public speaking program, which has a focused approach on teaching effective public speaking across the curriculum. The weekly Society of Skeptics series has been in continuous existence since 1977 and is considered the premiere high school lecture series in the U.S.

In addition to the Ivies, Blair sends students to Boston College, Davidson, Lehigh, Stanford, and the University of Miami.

  • Percentage of students who board: 77%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,600
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40% (need-based)
  • Notable alumni: Tucker Max (New York Times best-selling author), John C. “Jack” Bogle (founder of the Vanguard Group)

23. The Hill School

Located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the Hill School is a private coeducational boarding high school serving students in grades 9-12. The school also offers a post-graduate year.

Students attend a non-denominational chapel service twice a week and enjoy family-style meals with faculty members. Additionally, students must be enrolled in an afternoon program. According to the school's website, “active participation is required in interscholastic sports at some point during all students' time at The Hill School, and is encouraged at all times.”

Of special note is the writing center, which not only provides writing instruction, but also runs the Writers at Work series of professional writers' visits to campus each year. Hill students matriculate at Boston University, Cornell, George Washington University, Penn State, and the Naval Academy, and enjoy an extensive alumni network with more than 9,500 active and registered alumni across all 50 states.

  • Percentage of students who board: 79%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,500
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40% (need-based)
  • Notable alumni: Lamar Hunt (businessman, Kansas City Chiefs owner), Tobias Wolff (Stanford professor, author)

24. Peddie School

Founded in 1864, Peddie School is located in Hightstown, New Jersey, eight miles from Princeton and 50 miles from Manhattan and Philadelphia. Peddie enrolls students in grades 9-12, as well as postgraduate students.

The school offers signature experiential programs in the arts, creative writing, Asian studies, and research science. To promote well-roundedness, students attend chapel twice a week and document at least 20 hours of community service.

Peddie grads attend Ivy League schools and top-tier places like Johns Hopkins, NYU, George Washington, Bucknell, and the Naval Academy.

  • Percentage of students who board: 62%
  • Tuition, room, and board:$52,600
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40%
  • Notable alumni: Phil Evans (journalist, editor of the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Times), Colin Ferrell (NFL), Chris Tomson (musician)

25. Miss Hall's School

Located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is an all-girls college preparatory boarding school founded in 1898. The school serve students in grades 9-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

Students can choose from among 87 courses and must complete off-campus internships through the school's signature Horizons program. Hall's girls also enjoy access to a thriving alumnae network with more than 3,600 alumnae in 49 states and 60 countries.

Graduates attend the Ivies and other high-caliber colleges such as Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Michigan, among others.

  • Percentage of students who board: 75%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,500
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 50%
  • Notable alumnae: Jean Erdman (dancer with Martha Graham dance company)

26. Berkshire School

Located in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire School is a private, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9-12. The school provides a challenging college preparatory curriculum, while maintaining a unique approach to education. Students receive marks for effort, as well as achievement, in order to provide the most accurate reflection of a student's academic performance–according to the school's website, “outstanding effort is recognized as a worthy achievement at Berkshire.”

Berkshire students experience a different kind of academia during the week prior to spring break: the Pro Vita week. Applying the school's motto (pro vita non pro schola discimus, or "we teach for life, not for school"), students choose min-courses, attend presentation by renowned speakers, and experience applied learning. Other programs of distinction include a course in aviation science that prepares students for the FAA Ground School Certification Exam and a special program in advanced humanities research.

The most recent graduating class currently attends Ivies and top-tier schools like Hobart and William Smith, Wesleyan, Bucknell, and West Point.

  • Percentage of students who board: 88%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,975
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 29%
  • Notable alumni: Lincoln Kirstein (co-founder of the New York City Ballet), Peter Kellogg (billionaire and former CEO of Wall Street specialist firm Spear, Leeds, & Kellogg)

27. The Holderness School

Founded in 1879, Holderness is a private, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9-12 located in Plymouth, New Hampshire. The school states simply that it's a school for “smart kids who loves the outdoors,” as it celebrates and incorporates its location in the heart of ski country into its programming.

In addition to outdoor education and a traditional curriculum, Holderness students have enjoyed the Artward Bound program, a nationally recognized visual and performing arts program, for over 20 years. They must also create and present a senior thesis.

Students matriculate at Ivies and at Bowdoin, the University of Richmond, Quinnipiac, and Stanford.

  • Percentage of students who board: 86%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $54,100
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 40%
  • Notable alumni: William Drea Adama (chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities), Tyler Palmer (Olympic skier)

28. Portsmouth Abbey

Founded in 1926 by Benedictine monks, Portsmouth Abbey is an independent Catholic coeducational boarding school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, just seven miles from Newport. In fact, the campus is still home to an actual working monastery, whose presence exerts a positive influence on the school community. The Abbey also serves as a “prep year” for students entering the U.S. Military and Naval Academies.

Students may choose from 84 courses and must complete a community service requirement for graduation, in addition to coursework in theology and Latin.

Students are accepted at schools across the U.S. and most frequently matriculate at Holy Cross, Boston College, and Boston University.

  • Percentage of students who board: 70%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $52,730
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 36% (need- and merit-based)
  • Notable alumni: John Gregory Dunne (writer), Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
  • Portsmouth Abbey is also featured amongst "The 30 Best Christian Boarding Schools."

29. Milton Academy

Just eight miles south of Boston, Milton Academy is an independent college preparatory school founded in 1798. Milton serves students grades K-12. The school values progressive thinking, actively seeks a diverse student population, and encourages students to discover their true academic selves through a variety of programs and coursework.

Students may choose from more than 180 courses in nine departments. The school is home to Ayer Observatory, which is open for use by astronomy students and for public tours on Friday nights.

Most recently, high numbers of Milton students have matriculated at Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Northwestern, Harvard, Columbia, and Boston University.

  • Percentage of students who board: 50%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $51,330
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30% (need-based grants)
  • Notable alumni: T.S. Eliot, Robert and Ted Kennedy, James Taylor

30.Suffield Academy

Founded in 1833, Suffield is a private, coed boarding school serving students in grades 9-12 (and a post-graduate year) in Suffield, Connecticut. Taking to heart that they are training the future leaders of America, Suffield requires leadership training and development from every student, which takes place in the classroom as well as through outdoor education.

Students most recently attended schools such as Trinity, Bentley, NYU, University of Vermont, and Santa Clara University.

  • Percentage of students who board: 66%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $52,300
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 34%
  • Notable alumni: Roger Faxon (Chairman of EMI Music Publishing), Archer Mayor (writer)

31. The Hotchkiss School

The Hotchkiss School is an independent boarding school located in Lakeville, Connecticut. Founded in 1891, the school educates students in grades 9-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

Students can choose from more than 240 courses, including programs based in the new global initiatives and focus on environmental sustainability. Students are given the chance to tailor their academic programs.

Over the past five years, students matriculate most frequently at Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Princeton, Yale, and Penn.

The school is noted for its extensive alumni network and sheer amount of graduates who have gone on to become representatives, senators, and other influential government officials.

  • Percentage of students who board: 87%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $55,700
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 38%
  • Notable alumni: Peter Matthiessen (author, founder of The Paris Review), Archibald MacLeish (poet, writer, editor of Fortune magazine), Timothy P. Sullivan (CEO of ancestry.com), Thomas Hoving (director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

32. The Webb Schools

Founded in 1922 in Claremont, California, the Webb School for Boys and Vivian Webb School for Girls comprise the Webb Schools. The Webb schools educate boys and girl separately until the junior year when classes become coed; this is set up in order to “celebrate the formative differences between boys and girls.”

A whopping 90% of the faculty hold advanced degrees; together, they offer 81 courses.

Webb students matriculate at the Ivies, as well as the University of Southern California, NYU, Wellesley, Georgetown, Northwestern, and UCLA.

The campus is also home to the Alf Museum of Paleontology, where students are fully involved in the scientific process. Freshmen study paleontology in science classes, and all students go into the field for a hands-on fossil expedition.

  • Percentage of students who board: 61%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,575
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 33% (need-based grants)
  • Notable alumni: Art Clokey (animator for Gumby), Otis Chandler (founder of goodreads.com), John Scalzi (award-winning science fiction writer), Dr. Steven Nissen (leading advocate for awareness of health risks associated with popular drugs)

33. The Salisbury School

Salisbury, Connecticut, is home to the Salisbury School, a private boarding school for boys. The school keeps its century-old traditions alive while creating a careful curriculum that prepares students for the outer world. Almost the entire student body boards, and the community gathers for campus-wide events daily, which promotes community.

In addition to its standard and rigorous college preparatory courses, Salisbury offers programs in robotics, entrepreneurial studies, and Mandarin Chinese.

Students matriculate at some of the nation's top schools, including NYU, Sewanee, Trinity College, and the Naval Academy, in addition to the Ivy League institutions.

  • Percentage of students who board: 94%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,700
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: TBA (need-based, merit, and specialized scholarships for physically challenged students and students from families/victims of 9/11 attacks)
  • Notable alumni: Lucas Watson (vice president at Google for Global Brand Solutions and Innovations), Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Richard D. Field (co-founder of Lending Tree)

34. The Governor's Academy

Founded in 1763, the Governor's Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts, is the oldest continuously operating boarding school in the United States. The coeducational school serves students in grades 9-12.

The school recently won first place in the Green Cup Challenge. To instill the values of lifelong citizenship and civics, students must complete 100 hours of community service.

All coursework focuses on the school's seven essential skills. Clearly, the academic program at Governor's Academy is strong, as evidenced by recent matriculations at the Ivies and Boston University, Tufts, Furman, and the University of Southern California, among others.

  • Percentage of students who board: 66%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,400
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30%
  • Notable alumni: Samuel Phillips (founder of Phillips Andover Academy), Booker T. Washington, Jr.

35. Groton School

Founded in 1884 just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Groton is a private, coeducational boarding school that serves students in grades 8-12. Groton offers a classical college preparatory curriculum and requires students to take two years of Latin or Greek.

Keeping in line with traditions, the Groton School day commences with chapel services and concludes with "check-in," which is when dorm residents shake hands with the teacher on duty. Students matriculate at all the Ivies, highest enrollments at Harvard, Georgetown, Trinity, Bowdoin, and Yale in the past five years.

Students are not required to perform community service and count hours; instead, community service is an expectation of all students. All students are required to attend weekend religious services, but are free to choose the service that best fits their own tradition.

Groton School has over 4,200 active alumni, with more than with more than 50 percent alumni participation each and every year.

  • Percentage of students who board: 87%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $55,700
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 38%
  • Notable alumni: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Sam Waterston (actor), Fred Gwynne (actor), Christopher Isham (Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, ABC News), Candace Nelson (founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes)

36. The Storm King School

The Storm King School, a private boarding school located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, was founded in 1867. The school serves students grades 8-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

Students benefit from the school's proximity to Manhattan, as well as the pastoral setting of the campus, which offers outdoor education and an optional mountaineering program.

Storm King provides a strong college preparatory curriculum; students most frequently matriculate at Rutgers, Boston University, NYU, Syracuse, Cornell, and Parsons School of Design.

  • Percentage of students who board: 70% (representing 26 nations)
  • Strong arts and sciences programs
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,945
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30%
  • Notable alumni: Peter Boyce (pioneer in publication and linking of electronic science journals), Cara Castronuova (boxer), Steven Zirnkilton (voice-over actor)

37. Loomis Chaffee

Loomis Chaffee, located in Windsor, Connecticut, was founded in 1874 by five siblings whose children all died tragically and who therefore became determined to found a school as a gift to the children of others. Today, the school serves students in grades 9-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

In addition to more than 180 courses, students can select a Global Studies certification through special study in international relations, foreign language, and study abroad.

Loomis Chaffee grads go to every Ivy and frequently matriculate at George Washington, the University of Connecticut, Skidmore, NYU, Bates, and Tufts.

  • Percentage of students who board: 65%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,750
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 34%
  • Notable alumni: Jason Wu (fashion designer), John D. Rockefeller III, Drew Zingg (lead guitarist of Steely Dan), Terry Walters (author)

38. Middlesex School

Founded in 1901 and located 20 miles west of Boston in Concord, Massachusetts, Middlesex School is a private, coeducational boarding school that serves students in grades 9-12. The school encourages the development of each individual student's personal academic interests and says “after all, the world needs both physicists and Disney Imagineers.”

As part of the Independent Study Program, seniors create customized courses and learn from faculty experts in that designated field of interest.

Freshmen are required to take a course in mindfulness during the first nine weeks, and sophomores take a weekly seminar in expository writing across the curriculum. In addition to participating in various traditions, the entire campus community joins in an all-school read each year.

Middlesex students most frequently attend Ivy League schools, as well as Amherst, Boston College, Bucknell, Colby, George Washington University, Middlebury College, NYU, Trinity, University of Chicago, and Vanderbilt.

  • Percentage of students who board: 75%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $54,160
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 28% (no income cutoff for eligibility)
  • Notable alumni: Bill Richardson (former governor of New Mexico and presidential candidate), Steve Carrell (actor), Elizabeth Mayhew (The Washington Post, The Today Show)

39. Tabor Academy

Located on the water in Marion, Massachusetts, Tabor Academy is an independent coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9-12.

Among its 138 course offerings are six specific classes in nautical studies. Tabor, known as “the school by the sea,” takes full advantage of its location and has turned it into an educational resource. The successful completion of these courses (some of which can be completed in the Caribbean Studies program), according to the school website, “entitles a Tabor graduate to a Naval Honor Certificate, recognized by the United States Armed Forces as part of the candidate's permanent record and qualifying him/her for the school's nomination to a Federal Service Academy.”

Tabor graduates most frequently enroll in schools like Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, George Washington University, and Bowdoin.

  • Percentage of students who board: 70%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $55,510
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 34% (need-based)
  • Notable alumni: Paul Fireman (founder of Reebok)

40. Northfield Mt. Hermon School

Located in western Massachusetts, Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMH) dates back to 1879. An independent, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9–12, the school also offers a postgraduate year.

NMH prepares students for college life, from using a College-Model Academic Program to providing extensive college-planning support. Students, faculty, and dorm advisors comprise a “partnership of 12”: a dorm-centered advising system that helps students navigate their personal and academic paths toward success at NMH.

While living on campus, all students are part of a work program in which they spend four hours a week working an on-campus job; jobs change each term.

Students are frequently accepted into schools like NYU, Northwestern, Vassar, Emory, Bates, and Boston University, as well as the Ivies.

  • Percentage of students who board: 83%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $63,500
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 31%
  • Notable alumni: Natalie Cole (singer), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Beat poet), Uma Thurman (actress), James McLamore (founder of Burger King)

41. Kent School

Founded in 1906, the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, is located 90 miles east of Manhattan. Because the founder desired to teach students from all walks of life, Kent was the first secondary school in the U.S. to offer sliding-scale tuition.

In addition to a menu of 160 courses, Kent offers a unique pre-engineering program, especially designed for students interested in pursuing an engineering major on the college level.

Students get into the Ivies, certainly, but apply to a broad range of schools that fit their unique personalities and interests. Kent students enroll in large numbers at George Washington, Syracuse, and the University of Vermont.

  • Percentage of students who board: 92%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $54,300
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 44% (need and merit-based aid)
  • Notable alumni: Seth McFarlane (Family Guy creator), Ted Danson (actor), Lana Del Ray (singer-songwriter), Draper Kauffman (father of Navy Frogmen and grandfather of Navy SEALS)

42. The Emma Willard School

Founded in 1814, Emma Willard is an all-girls boarding school in Troy, New York, serving students in grades 9-12. The school offers a post-graduate year. As the first Fair Trade-certified high school in the U.S., Emma places a special emphasis on social justice and community.

Students can choose from more than 132 courses, and according to the school's college profile, “the faculty intentionally limits the number of AP courses offered in order to provide students with an array of equally rigorous non-AP electives at the upper level.” Emma girls are frequently accepted to the Ivies and schools like American University, UVA, Rensselaer Polytechnic, Grinnell, Hamilton, Boston College, and NYU.

  • Percentage of students who board: 62%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $56,390
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 51% (need-based aid)
  • Notable alumnae: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sara Lee Schupf (founder of Sara Lee brand), New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

43. Lawrenceville School

Located just five miles away from Princeton University, the Lawrenceville School has historically been the feeder for the New Jersey Ivy. The private, coeducational boarding school serves students in grades 9-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

Lawrenceville's faculty is largely composed of advanced degree holders–a stunning 94%. These highly educated teachers employ the Harkness teaching method in their classrooms. The school requires 40 hours of community service for graduation in addition to seminars in personal development.

Over the past five years, Lawrenceville students have matriculated in droves at Princeton, Georgetown, NYU, Brown, and Cornell.

  • Percentage of students who board: 70%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $55,350
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 29% (all need-based)
  • Notable alumni: Dierks Bentley (country music singer), Huey Lewis (rock and roll singer, actor), Malcolm Forbes (Forbes magazine)

44. Pomfret School

Founded in 1894, Pomfret School is an independent coeducational college preparatory boarding school in northeastern Connecticut for students in grades 9-12 and postgraduates.

To provide a stable foundation for the remainder of their studies, all first-years are required to attend a year-long, weekly seminar in personal and academic success. Sophomores must take a course in social issues, and all students have the chance for independent academic study.

All students at Pomfret participate in the TELL program, a series of 14 workshops held throughout the school year that focus on health and wellness, diversity and multiculturalism, and leadership and ethics.

Pomfret grads have most recently matriculated at Connecticut College, Northeastern, Trinity, Hobart and William Smith, Bates, Penn, and SMU.

  • Percentage of students who board: 77%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $55,620
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: TBA (grants, loans, need-based)
  • Notable alumni: James Rothman (Nobel Prize-winner), Douglas Tompkins (founder of the North Face company), Jon Stone (founding producer of Sesame Street)

45. Westminster School

Founded in 1888 and offering a solid, traditional college prep course of study, Westminster Academy in Simsbury, Connecticut, serves students in grades 9-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

One of the core elements of life at Westminster are the family-style dinners where students are assigned to a table for two-week rotations with faculty families. Unique to this school is the Visiting Poets program, during which nationally lauded poets take up temporary residence on the campus, address the student body, and visit classes.

Westminster grads most frequently attend schools like Boston College, Trinity, University of Richmond, and Connecticut College, along with the Ivy League schools.

  • Percentage of students who board: 69%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $54,000
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 32% (need-based, does not include scholarships)
  • Notable alumni: Peter Fonda (actor), Wellesley Wild (Family Guy writer and executive producer)

46. South Kent School

Founded in 1923, Connecticut's South Kent School serves boys in grades 9-12, as well as those interested in a post-graduate year. Boys are called to adventure, service, and the arts at South Kent, and academic requirements reflect the three calls.

In addition to traditional curriculum, the school focuses on experiential, project-based programs. The Advanced Media Group affords students the chance to learn digital entrepreneurship and web-casting and serves as the model for similar programs in other schools.

Graduates attend the Ivies, MIT, Trinity, Penn State, Colgate, Wesleyan, and Colby College.

  • Percentage of students who board: 90%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $46,500
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: TBA
  • Notable alumni: Jim Bellows (editor, major figure in New Journalism), John Berryman (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet), Isaiah Thomas (NBA Phoenix Suns)

47. The Williston Northampton School

A private coeducational boarding school, the Williston Northampton School was founded in 1841 and is located in Easthampton, Massachusetts. The school serves students in grades 9-12 and offers a post-graduate year.

Wiliston Northampton provides a traditional college preparatory curriculum. Students may participate in a Writer's Workshop and attend the Photographer's Lecture Series. All students are part of the Curricular Technology Initiative.

The most recent graduates of Williston Northampton attend NYU, Trinity, Hobart and William Smith, Connecticut College, Union College, Colby, Bentley, and Ithaca College.

  • Percentage of students who board: 65%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $55,300 (legacy program available)
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: NA
  • Notable alumni: P.D. Eastman (children's author), Brad Hall (Saturday Night Live), Ashley Gearing (country singer)

48. The Cate School

Located outside of Santa Barbara, California, the Cate School was established in 1910. As a private coeducational boarding school, Cate serves students in grades 9-12.

The campus's proximity to the Pacific Ocean invites unique experiential education. In addition, students may choose from more than 155 courses.

Cate students frequently matriculate at the USC, Stanford, NYU, Colorado College, and the University of Chicago, in addition to Ivies.

  • Percentage of students who board: 83%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,150
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: 30%
  • Notable alumni: Conrad Hall (cinematographer), David Crosby (musician), George Ledyard Stebbins (botanist, evolutionary biologist)

49. The Ethel Walker School

Since 1911, the Ethel Walker School has served girls in grades 6-12 as a private boarding school for girls in Simsbury, Connecticut. The school also offers a post-graduate year.

Girls complete a community service project each year and will either be a “Sun” or a “Dial” as part of a friendly campus rivalry during their time on campus

While Walker's girls receive a solid background in traditional college prep courses, they also have the option to take unique skills-based classes in advanced math, equine studies, creative writing–even Arctic studies.

Students matriculate at every Ivy as well as every top school for engineering in the U.S.

  • Percentage of students who board: 61%
  • Tuition, room, and board: $53,550
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: NA
  • Notable alumnae: Sigourney Weaver (actress), Frances Beinecke (president of the National Resources Defense Council)

50. Wayland Academy

Founded in 1855, Wayland Academy is a private, coeducational boarding school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, serving students in grades 9-12.

The school offers a strong, traditional college prep curriculum, and has recently embarked on an engineering and robotics initiative.

Students gain entrance to the Ivies and also enroll at Drexel, St. Olaf, Franklin & Marshall, Grinnell, Smith, and West Point.

  • Percentage of students who board: 75%
  • Percentage of students who receive some form of financial aid: NA
  • Tuition, room, and board: $43,067
  • Notable alumni: George Edwin Taylor (early African-American politician), Ric Flair (professional wrestler), Zona Gale (author)
Best Boarding Schools

Ranking Guidelines

To identify the best boarding schools, we assessed schools where at least half of all students lived on campus, regardless of school size. We then weighed each school according to three criteria:

  1. Availability of specialized programs
  2. Dedication to an innovative curriculum
  3. Emphasis on student-involved community service

The tuition price comes from the most current figure posted on each school's website. Most of the numbers listed do not include the cost of textbooks, lunches, and other fees.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Paying for Boarding School

Nearly half of families receive financial aid to pay for boarding school. Financial assistance — like need-based grants and merit-based scholarships — helps students afford their attendance. For example, many boarding schools offer scholarships to students who show academic promise. They may also award grants based on financial need.

In addition to these forms of financial aid, which families do not need to repay, families can also research loans or financing programs to cover costs. Many schools also often offer tuition payment programs to break up tuition costs into smaller payments.

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton's work at genevievecarlton.com.

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