The 50 Best Private Day Schools in the U.S.

TBS Staff Writers
Updated September 18, 2023
The 50 Best Private Day Schools in the United States ; 1. Trinity School - New York, New York ; 2. The Bests School New York City, NY ; 3. The Trinity School

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Private High Schools Across America

Private day schools are popular options for families seeking a high-quality education. Students receive a world-class education while maintaining their residence with their families. A great private day school—that is, a private high school without boarding facilities—will challenge students to achieve not only academic success, but personal success as well. (Compare our articles The 50 Best Public High Schools in the U.S. and The 50 Best Colleges in the U.S.)

The rankings below have been compiled on the basis of a number of factors. In terms of academic excellence, the schools on the following list maintain a superior level of instruction, quality relationships with top-tier colleges, and additional academic awards and honors. The majority of students who attend these day schools attend Ivy League universities or the colleges just underneath the Ivies in college ranking materials.

Because diversity of the student body is integral to preparing students for living and working in a connected, global society, we factor this into our criteria for the rankings. The diversity of a student population, as well as opportunities to connect to the world, are telling factors of a school’s commitment to preparing its students for the world outside of the school environment.

The third aspect assessed for this listing consists of intangible factors, such as innovative degree programs in the arts, current student satisfaction with their high school, quality and experience of the faculty, or modern lab or athletic facilities. Also, we have striven for as much geographical diversity as is consistent with our other criteria.

Note about boarding schools: Schools that receive day students along with boarding students will be included in a follow-up article on boarding schools. This article focuses on private high schools that do not provide boarding facilities.

Note about tuition: The tuition price comes from the most current figure posted on the school’s websites. Most of the numbers listed are exclusive of textbooks, lunches, and other fees.

Note about alumni/alumnae: In some cases, notable persons who attended a school, but did not graduate, are also listed.

1. Trinity School

(New York, New York)trinityschool

Trinity School, founded in 1709, is an independent, co-ed school located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Trinity consistently ranks as the foremost private day school in the country, and for good reasons: over 80% of its faculty holds an advanced degree and the school funnels out students to the best colleges in the nation.

In addition to housing a full Classics department, Trinity also offers a huge array of special programs to ensure that students develop their interests outside the classroom.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Consistently ranked in the top ten of the Wall Street Journal‘s Best High Schools Awards
  • Named #1 school in the country by Forbes Magazine in 2010
  • Alumni include tennis star John McEnroe, fashion consultant Stacy London, actors Humphrey Bogart and Larry Hagman, singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, novelists Truman Capote and Colson Whitehead, and filmmaker Oliver Stone
  • Tuition: $39,125, grades 9–11; $39,625, grade 12

2. Roxbury Latin School

(Boston, Massachusetts)


Located in southwest Boston, the all-men Roxbury Latin School is known for turning out National Merit Scholars, as well as Ivy-bound students.

Founded in 1645, Roxbury Latin is one the oldest, operating private schools in the country. Its rankings speak to its rigorous academic preparation and excellent faculty.

For a small school, the musical groups on campus are impressive: a glee club, an a capella group, a junior chorus, a jazz band, and various chamber ensembles are available for student participation.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #5 prep school by Forbes Magazine
  • The top SAT average of any school in the country, according to Peterson’s Private Secondary Schools
  • The highest matriculation rate to all 8 Ivies plus Stanford and MIT, according to a study by
  • Alumni include landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, experimental psychologist E.L. Thorndike, educator James B. Conant, and anthropologist Jared Diamond
  • Tuition: $24,300

3. Brearley School

(New York, New York)


The Brearley School, an all-women’s, non-denominational school located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is a champion of diversity. Forty-four percent of the student body is comprised of students of color.

Brearley’s emphasis on academics is witnessed by its high Ivy League/MIT/Stanford placement rate of 37%.

The school encourages its students to take advantage of its many study abroad and exchange programs, which include countries like India, China, and Vietnam, as well as the more traditional European study abroad destinations.

The school also has a thriving arts program.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #1 all-women’s school by Forbes Magazine
  • Alumnae include anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, novelists Anne and Katie Roiphe, actresses Jill Clayburgh, Sigourney Weaver, and Kyra Sedgwick, and philanthropist Caroline Kennedy
  • Tuition: $36,800

4. Horace Mann School

(New York, New York)


In the Riverdale section of the Bronx, one will discover the 18-acre campus of the Horace Mann School, which is recognized as one of the top feeder schools to the Ivies.

Horace Mann seeks to educate the whole person inside and outside of the classroom: In addition to offering an assortment of co-curricular activities, students are required to pass a swim test, learn CPR, and complete community service hours as part of their graduation requirements.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #2 school in the U.S. by Forbes Magazine in 2010
  • Ranked #4 by the Wall Street Journal
  • Most of its 21 student publications have earned recognition from the CSPA (Columbia Scholastic Press Association) and ASPA (Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors)
  • Alumni include composer Elliott Carter, poet William Carlos Williams, novelist James Salter, philosopher John Searle, economist Robert Heilbroner, Pultizer Prize–winning author Robert Caro, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, and jazz pianist Peter Cincotti
  • Tuition: $39, 100

5. Winsor School

(Boston, Massachusetts)


The Winsor School, founded in 1886, is one of the top all-women’s prep schools in the country. Its academic excellence is evidenced by its high average combined SAT score of 2100 and its Ivy League/MIT/Stanford matriculation rate of 35%.

Winsor enrolls approximately 430 students from diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. For further enrichment, the school offers off-campus programs, exchanges to China and France, and semesters at the Mountain School in Vermont.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #10 on Forbes Magazine best prep list
  • Alumnae include figure skater Tenley Albright and Harvard Law School Professor Martha Field
  • Tuition: $37,100

6. College Preparatory School

(Oakland, California)

College Prep of Oakland, a co-educational, private school, is one of the most selective private day schools in the country, with a population of only 320 students.

The highly-selective admissions process guarantees a high-caliber student upon entrance, which typically results in these students’ becoming freshmen at the nation’s top colleges—22 students from College Prep have become Stanford students upon graduation during the last five years alone.

Students participate in Intraterm each year, a specialized program for enrichment the week before spring break.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • 59% of the class of 2013 were recognized as either National Merit Semi-Finalists or Commended
  • Ranked #17 private school in the country by Forbes Magazine in 2010
  • Alumni include filmmaker Miranda July, Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Marchick, and Cher Wang, co-founder of smartphone manufacturer HTC
  • Tuition: $35,410

7. Collegiate School

(New York, New York)

Collegiate School, an all-men’s private school located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, traces back its history to 1628, making it one of the oldest schools in the U.S.

In addition to boasting a stellar average combined SAT score (2195) and Ivy League/MIT/Stanford acceptance rate (41%), Collegiate is distinguished by having the best soccer team in the state among private schools.

Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the school’s prime New York City location by enrolling in CITYterm, which uses the Manhattan cityscape as its classroom.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Named it the #1 school in the world for getting into the Ivies by the Wall Street Journal
  • Ranked #7 prep school in the country by Forbes Magazine
  • Alumni include film directors Peter Bogdanovich and Whit Stillman, actor David Duchovny, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the former president
  • Tuition: $39,400

8. Spence School

(New York, New York)


An all-women’s school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the Spence School offers a global learning community within its campus.

Over 33% of the student body consists of students of color, and the curriculum at Spence is designed so that a student can identify herself and sees her culture and heritage reflected in her studies. The English Department hosts an array of classes focusing on literature from specific regions around the world.

Upper School students can choose from among 40 clubs and activities.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #9 by Forbes in the best prep schools list
  • Alumnae include philanthropist Helen Cray Frick, author Francine du Plessix Gray, and actress Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Tuition: $39,200

9. Harvard-Westlake School

(Los Angeles, California)


Harvard-Westlake (H-W) is a private, co-ed school that spans two campuses on the west side of Los Angeles, between Bel Air and Beverly Hills.

A distinguishing feature of the school is its focus on character education and ethical leadership, which is built into the curriculum.

H-W allows for directed study and independent study. Travel is encouraged, both abroad or domestically (at the Mountain School or the High Mountain Institute).

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Over 1/3 of students in the class of 2011 received National Merit Recognition
  • Ranked as one of America’s best prep schools from in 2008
  • Ranked as #12 on the Forbes Best Schools list for 2010
  • Alumni include actors Myrna Loy, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Shirley Temple, Candice Bergen, Elizabeth Montgomery, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as film director Jason Reitman and astronaut Sally Ride
  • Tuition: $31, 350

10. Dalton School

(New York, New York)

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The Dalton school, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is the home of the Dalton Plan, an educational model adopted by schools globally. The plan comprises three parts (Home, Assignment, and Lab), as well as programs designed to meet a student’s individual needs.

Seniors stay busy at Dalton: On top of the senior initiative and project, the school mandates an internship program in the senior year to give students hands-on experience for post-grad life.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #13 on the Forbes Best Prep Schools list
  • Alumni include actors Chevy Chase and Claire Danes, author Frances Fitzgerald, science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, journalists Eric Schlosser and Matt Yglesias, and TV personalities Anderson Cooper and Andrew Zimmern
  • Tuition: $40,220

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11. Chapin School

(New York, New York)


The Chapin School is an all-women’s school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. All students attend school under one roof to maintain a sense of continuity and community.

Chapin has an extensive network of partnerships for students to complete summer internships, including a partnership with the Foreign Policy Association.

Students may also enroll in an elective service-learning course that is designed to incorporate meaningful community service into teaching and learning about civic responsibility and social issues.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #3 in college placement by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Alumnae include author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, actresses Stockard Channing and Sigourney Weaver, and fashion designers Lilly Pulitzer and Vera Wang
  • Tuition: $36,500

12. Princeton Day School

(Princeton, New Jersey)

Princeton Day School (PDS) is a private, co-educational day school.

PDS is naturally a feeder school for nearby Princeton University; however, many graduates go on to attend other top-ranked colleges such as NYU, Cornell, Tufts, and Georgetown.

Not only does PDS more than adequately prepare students for the best colleges in the country, it incorporates a number of special programs to nurture the student as a complete individual. There is a two-day celebration of creativity featuring guest artists and a five-week seminar for seniors, “A Life That Works,” which gathers seniors to investigate spiritual and practical dimensions of life relevant to shaping their futures.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • A third of the 2011 graduating class were honored as National Merit Semi-Finalists or Commended Scholars
  • Alumni include actor Christopher Reeve, singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, and rock musician Trey Anastasio
  • Tuition: $30,230

13. Saint Ann’s School

(New York, New York)


Saint Ann’s School is a non-sectarian, co-educational, private day school located in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City.

There are a couple of keys that separate Saint Ann’s school from the other schools on this list.

First, the school doesn’t have a grading system and prefers to have its teachers prepare full-page reports on each student to give what they deem a more accurate reflection of the learning that took place.

A spotlight on the arts is another feature unique to Saint Ann’s, in that the school considers the arts to be central elements to a student’s education.

Juniors and seniors help design their own curriculum.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Named one of the top 50 high schools by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Alumni include actresses Jennifer Connelly and Lena Dunham, and rap musician Mike D (Mike Diamond)
  • Tuition: grades 9–11, $32, 400; grade 12, $33,100

14. Germantown Friends School

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Germantown Friends School is a co-educational, private day school located in Philly’s historic Germantown neighborhood. The school maintains its roots in, and maintains strong connections with, the Society of Friends.

Germantown Friends is known for its strong academic preparation: 10–20% of graduates enroll at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania.

The school keeps it values close in mind both inside and outside of the classroom, making for a rich education in the development of the individual students.

In keeping with its spiritual values, Germantown Friends does not calculate GPA for class rank and does not have a Valedictorian or Salutatorian. Instead, graduating classes elect a faculty member and a classmate to deliver ceremonial speeches.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include Nobel Prize-winning physicists Owen Chamberlain and Saul Perlmutter, television producer Kara Vallow, and music producer and author Sandra Boynton
  • Tuition: $29,795

15. National Cathedral School

(Washington, D.C.)

The National Cathedral School (NCS) is a private, all-women’s Episcopal day school in the McLean Gardens neighborhood of our nation’s capital.

NCS was built before the National Cathedral itself, and maintains its heritage through weekly chapel services by school division and ecumenical, thematic Friday services.

Thirty-five percent of the student body is made up of students of color.

Athletic participation, which includes dance and yoga classes as well as outdoor recreation, is mandatory for all students.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumnae include American U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and U.S. Congresswoman Beverly Byron
  • Tuition: $35,120

16. University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

(Chicago, Illinois)


The Lab School (as it is universally known), which is located on the campus of the University of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood of the city, is a private, co-educational day school that takes pride in its diverse campus culture.

The school was founded in 1896 by Professor John Dewey, one of the foremost philosophers, educators, and public intellectuals in America’s history.

Students learn about cultural, communicative ethics, and civility education, and participate in an outstanding World Languages program.

Students at the Lab School are known for their excellence in scholastic journalism, as well.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #4 in the nation for its record of sending graduates to elite colleges and universities
  • Alumni include U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, composer Ned Rorem, historian William McNeill, philosopher Leon Kass, biologist Lynn Margulis, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • Tuition: $28,290

17. Collegiate School

(Richmnond, Virginia)


Collegiate School, which is located in Virginia’s state capital (and should not be confused with the New York City school of the same name), is a private, co-educational day school committed to academic and personal excellence.

All students participate in community service projects; seniors complete short internships prior to graduation as a graduation requirement. To prepare students for the world beyond academia, Collegiate weaves both economics education and global education into its entire curriculum.

Recently, Collegiate initiated a Global Education Mission, creating partnerships with schools in China, India, Mexico, and Spain, and expanded its oral proficiency requirements for foreign language study. It is also home to the International Emerging Leaders Conference.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • The class of 2012 produced three National Merit Semi-finalists, one Achievement Semi-Finalist, and 14 Commended Scholars
  • Alumni include U.S. Representative and current House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, film producer Michael Gottwald, TV writer Mike Henry, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
  • Tuition: $21,520

18. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

(Ridgeland, Mississippi)


St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, which is located just north of Jackson, Mississippi (and should not be confused with several other schools of the same name in other states), is an independent, co-ed, college prep school for students in grades pre-K through 12.

St. Andrew’s consistently leads the state in the percentage of National Merit Semi-finalists. In addition to a fine academic tradition, St. Andrew’s students grow as individuals in a variety of ways, one of which is that they complete an astounding 100 hours of community service projects before graduation. The school has established a focus on global studies through the St. Andrew’s International Society, the Global Speakers program, and by providing exchange programs with schools in Japan, China, Mexico, Ghana, Scotland, Spain, France, and India.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • The Class of 2011 included 12 National Merit Finalists, three National Achievement Finalists, and five Commended Students
  • The Class of 2010 included 18 National Merit Finalists (more than any other school in the state), three National Achievement Finalists, and two Commendations
  • St. Andrew’s has produced four Presidential Scholars in the last four years
  • Thirty-five of 39 of Mississippi’s AP State Scholars have been St. Andrew’s students
  • Tuition: $14,605

19. Delbarton School

(Morristown, New Jersey)


Delbarton is a Catholic, all-men’s school located just west of Newark, New Jersey.

In addition to its commitment to academic excellence, Delbarton promotes the values of cooperative living in a global society.

Through its study abroad programs, notable international guest speakers, and an award-winning Model U.N., students gain significant insight into the outside world.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #9 among the nation’s schools by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Alumni include playwright Christopher Durang, actor Peter Dinklage, computer scientist Robert Tappan Morris, and Wall Street trader/martial arts fighter John Cholish
  • Tuition: $30,200

20. Commonwealth School

(Boston, Massachusetts)

Located in Boston’s Back Bay East neighborhood, Commonwealth is a private, co-ed day school with a prestigious academic standing. Historically, two-thirds of each graduating class is recognized by the National Merit Scholar program.

The school views community service as an integral part of developing the whole person; therefore, students are required to complete 70 hours of service by the beginning of their junior years.

Additionally, the school mandates that students participate in the on-campus Jobs Program, in which students sign up to complete a variety of practical, common tasks on a regular basis.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Three members of the Class of 2012 were Presidential Scholar Semi-finalists
  • Physics department named best in the country by the College Board in 2004
  • Ranked best private high school by Boston Magazine in 2009
  • Alumni include historian Daniel Pipes, diplomat Peter Galbraith, film directors Kasi Lemmons and Jesse Peretz, actor Hamish Linklater, and model Cameron Russell
  • Tuition: $34,704

21. Lakeside School

(Seattle, Washington)


A private school in the north part of Seattle, the Lakeside School presents an intense academic program that exceeds the rigor of AP classes; thus, AP classes are not offered.

Lakeside has one of the most diverse student populations, with over half of the student body comprised of students of color.

The history of engaging students in global affairs dates back to the famous 1984 chess match against Moscow School students. Today, the school’s Global Service Learning Program “aims at helping students gain a broader view of the world while helping the underprivileged around the world.”

Students also have numerous opportunities for study abroad, both domestically and internationally.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • The class of 2012 produced 31 National Merit Semifinalists, 40 National Merit Commended, four National Achievement Scholar Award winners, and three National Hispanic Recognition Award winners
  • Alumni include Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and TV actor Adam West
  • Tuition: $27,250

22. Regis High School

(New York, New York)


An all-men’s, Catholic day school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Regis High School has a rigorous set of criteria for acceptance, and is widely regarded as a feeder school to the Ivies and other top U.S. colleges and universities.

Run by the Jesuit order, Regis combines a commitment to academic excellence with a focus on religiously guided values.

Annual class enrollment is limited to approximately 135 male students from the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area. All students receive a tuition-free education.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include immunologist Anthony Fauci, writer and critic Luc Sante, book publisher and editor Robert Giroux, journalists Pete Hamill and Mark Mazzetti, and author Edward Conlon
  • Tuition: $0

23. Rye Country Day School

(Rye, New York)

Rye Country Day School, which was founded in 1869, is a co-ed day school in a town on Long Island Sound, north of New Rochelle on Connecticut border.

While Rye Country Day has a consistent rate of students who matriculate into top-tier schools, it also maintains a deep commitment to community service.

Diversity also plays a prominent role on campus: Out of the many co-curricular clubs and activities Rye offers, nine are student clubs that promote diversity on the campus.

The school requires a Senior Term mandatory graduation project. .

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #21 on a list of top schools by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Alumni include Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Edward Albee, first lady Barbara Bush, and TV actor Nick Kroll
  • Tuition: $34,600

24. Crystal Springs Upland School

(Hillsborough, California)

Crystal Springs Uplands School, is an independent, co-ed private school located south of San Francisco, near San Mateo.

The school was among the first private schools to wave goodbye to the College Board’s AP courses. This was done so that teachers could design even more challenging coursework and students could initiate projects, internships, investigative research, and global experiences. However, students may elect to take the AP exams.

In terms of diversity, over 50% of the student population are students of color.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include heiress Patty Hearst, hip hop music producer Charlie Kubal, and TV actress Polly Draper
  • Tuition: $35,700

25. Buckingham Browne & Nichols

(Cambridge, Massachsetts)


The Buckingham School (1889) and Browne & Nichols School (1883) merged in 1974, creating a dynamic co-educational institution (BB&N). The three separate campuses are located within a few miles of each other in the western part of Cambridge, between the Charles River and historic Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

BB&N’s excellent academics prepares students for acceptance and success at the nation’s top colleges. Participation in sports is mandatory for all students.

BB&N students produce several publications, which have received national recognition.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • 27 Presidential Scholars from Massachusetts
  • Ranked #5 top private school in the Boston area by Boston Magazine in 2009
  • Ranked among the top 50 schools in the world for university preparation by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Alumni include actor Anthony Perkins, Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, NPR radio broadcaster Sylvia Poggioli, U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy, III, billionaire businesswoman Abigail Johnson, and Netflix founder Reed Hastings
  • Tuition: $38,030

26. St. Mark’s School of Texas

(Dallas, Texas)


St. Mark’s School of Texas is a nonsectarian, all-men’s day school located in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of north Dallas. The school’s academic performance record shines in the light of its many graduates who attend the nation’s best colleges.

St. Mark’s makes concerted efforts towards environmental sustainability, for which the school has received accolades.

Outdoor education is an integral part of the St. Mark’s experience and is required of all students.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • 22 National Merit Scholars in the Class of 2011
  • 35 Commended Scholars from the National Merit Program in the Class of 2011
  • Seven Presidential Scholars since 2003
  • Alumni include National Lampoon co-founder Robert Hoffman, singer-songwriter Boz Scaggs,and actors Tommy Lee Jones and Luke and Owen Wilson
  • Tuition: $25,258–$26,914, depending on the grade level

27. San Francisco University High School

(San Francisco, California)


San Francisco University High School (popularly known as “University”) opened in 1975 as a co-ed private school in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of the city.

Independent learning and self-directed projects are a valuable and unique asset to the excellent curriculum the school offers.

At University, community service learning requirements are mandatory. Over 40% of the student body is composed of students of color.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #21 best high school based on university preparedness by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Ranked #8 best high school in the country for matriculation rate and success at top colleges and universities by the Washington Post in 2013
  • Alumni include writer Ethan Canin, filmmaker and actor Ari Gold, National League pitcher Tyler Walker, and actor John Morris
  • Tuition: $35,440

28. Marlborough School

(Los Angeles, California)


Founded in 1889, Marlborough School is a private, all-women’s day school located in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Central L.A. It is the oldest school for women in Southern California.

Marlborough hosts a premiere Visiting Scholars program. While Marlborough does not require community service from its students, it is a valued, encouraged, and integral part of daily student life.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Science program has received national recognition
  • Honors research program was featured in a 2005 New York Times article
  • Alumnae include novelist Nell Freudenberger, author Anne Fadiman, actress and playwright Zoe Kazan, and MSNBC anchor Alex Wit
  • Tuition: $28,950

29. Riverdale Country School

(New York, New York)


Home to the largest campus in the New York City area, Riverdale Country School is a co-ed, private school located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

The school has decided to forgo AP course offerings so that more challenging and innovative classes would be available to students.

Additionally, all students are required to have three arts credits towards graduation—a nod to the emphasis on a strong and thriving arts program.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include U.S. Senator Edward M.Kennedy, singer-songwriter Carly Simon, science writer James Gleick, NFL running back Calvin Hill, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, restaurant critic Tim Zagat, and actors Cesar Romero, Chevy Chase, and Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Tuition: $35,500

30. Latin School of Chicago

(Chicago, Illinois)


Latin School of Chicago (known locally as “Latin”), founded in 1888, is a private, coeducational college preparatory school located in the city’s affluent Gold Coast neighborhood. It is the oldest independent day school in the city of Chicago.

Latin School’s mission is to provide students with an academically rigorous and innovative educational program in a community that embraces diversity of people, cultures, and ideas. Latin’s aim is “to inspire its students to pursue their passions and lead lives of purpose and excellence.”

Latin offers many innovative electives in every subject area, in addition to the core requirements. Many classes have a real-life-experience component, which helps to bring the material to life, including mock trials, hands-on labs, and a Model U.N. simulation.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include sculptor Claes Oldenburg, singer-songwriter Roger McGuinn, actor and producer Bob Balaban, first lady Nancy Reagan, U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson, III, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, II
  • Tuition: $28,985

31. Ethical Culture Fieldston School

(New York, New York)


Ethical Culture Fieldston School (popularly known as “Fieldston”) was founded in 1878 with the goal of educating New York City’s working class children.

Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Fieldston is sponsored by the secular humanist Society for Ethical Culture. True to its heritage in the Progressive Era movement, Fieldston mandates courses in ethics and philosophy, as well as a minimum of 60 documented hours of community service.

The school no longer offers AP coursework, in an effort to go above and beyond teaching-to-the-test, and chooses to implement more innovative and challenging classes instead.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, critics Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, David Denby, and Andrew Delbanco, photographer Diane Arbus, poets Howard Nemerov and Muriel Rukeyser, conductor Alan Gilbert, composer Stephen Sondheim, film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, fim directors James Toback and Sophia Coppola, and TV broadcaster Barbara Walters
  • $39,525

32. Potomac School

(McLean, Virginia)


Just outside of Washington, D.C., lies the 90-acre campus of the Potomac School.

This private, co-educational school presents students with the opportunity to complete a concentration in Visual and Performing Arts in music, theater, or visual arts.

Character development and community service are integral parts of the standard curriculum, as well.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include actresses Frances Sternhagen and Keshia Knight Pulliam, documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, and music critic Alex Ross
  • Tuition: $33,345

33. Branson School

(Ross, California)


Branson School, which is located near San Rafael in Marin County, 11 miles north of San Francisco, was founded in 1920. Today, Branson is a private, co-educational, college-preparatory day school with only 320 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12.

Through the vitality, breadth, and rigor of its programs, Branson encourages students to think critically, communicate clearly, develop their individual talents and interests, and pursue a lifelong passion for learning. Foreign language requirements are rigorous, with three years in one language, and two years each of two different languages required.

Community service is also a priority: Freshmen must complete five Core and 10 Support hours, and sophomores, juniors, and seniors must complete 15 Core and 10 Support hours each year (where Core hours = hours spent working directly with people in need, and Support hours = hours spent indirectly helping those in need).

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Student/faculty ratio 8-to-1
  • Average class size 13
  • Alumni include author and TV personality Julia Child, Olympic skiier Jonny Moseley, and documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel
  • Tuition: $35,000

34. Brunswick School

(Greenwich, Connecticut)


Brunswick School is an all-men’s, college preparatory, private day school located just over the NY/CT state line.

Brunswick has a high matriculation rate to the country’s most competitive colleges. However, competition does not end at the classroom doors: Participation in sports is required of all students.

Brunswick students have unique study abroad opportunities, including an Arabic year abroad, and a choice of six single-semester programs, notably in the Bahamas and in Switzerland.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include Peter Fonda, sports columnist Bill Simmons, and social networking pioneers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
  • Tuition: $35,700

35. Maret School

(Washington, D.C.)


Maret School, founded in 1911, is a private school on a single campus in the Woodley Park neighborhood of our nation’s capital.

Over 40% of Maret students identify themselves as students of color.

Foreign language instruction is a focus of the curriculum, and students have the opportunity to travel to Honduras, India, and France for summer course credits.

Each student is expected to take visual and performing arts classes, as well.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include film composer Theodore Shapiro, and educator and author Rosalind Wiseman
  • Tuition: $32,745

36. Baldwin School

(Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania)


Baldwin School, an all-women’s, private day school located west of Philadelphia on that city’s historic “Main Line.” The school’s main building is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Baldwin no longer offers AP coursework and chooses instead to present an even more rigorous curriculum to students. Baldwin students care deeply about environmental sustainability, the arts, athletics, and diversity. Over 35% of students are persons of color.

Baldwin requires its students to participate in athletics or physical education.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • The Class of 2011 had 18 students recognized by the National Merit Scholar program
  • The same class boasted a recipient of the annual National Latin Exam Scholarship
  • Alumnae include actress Cornelia Otis Skinner, writer Andrea Lee, and philosopher Martha Craven Nussbaum
  • Tuition: $28,000

37. Haverford School

(Haverford, Pennsylvania)


Haverford School is an all-men’s, nonsectarian, private college preparatory day school located nine miles outside of Philadelphia on that city’s historic “Main Line.” Its reputation as a pillar of academic excellence is long-standing and graduates gain admission into America’s top colleges year after year.

Haverford incorporates the idea of service learning into its curriculum; each student needs to complete an entire service project each school year.

The school emphasizes environmental sustainability on campus and within the Montgomery County community.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Six Rhodes Scholars
  • National Merit Scholarship Competition, Classes 2008–12: 46 Commended; 37 Semifinalists, 31 Finalists
  • Alumni include painter Maxfield Parrish, physicist Britton Chance, astronaut Pete Conrad, political scientist John DiIulio, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
  • Tuition: $34,800

38. Nightingale-Bamford School

(New York, New York)


Nightingale-Bamford School is an all-women’s day school located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Diversity plays an important role on and off campus: More than 30% of the student population is made up of students of color and students are encouraged to go on the various study abroad trips that span the globe.

Curricular enrichment includes a freshman class trip to the U.K., specialized programs in science, creative writing, visual education, and theater, taking full advantage of the school’s prime New York City location.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Three Semi-finalists in the National Achievement Scholarship Program in 2008
  • Ranked in the top 80 of 31,700 schools nationwide for placing students in the Ivies, according to Worth magazine
  • Alumnae include U.S. Representative Millicent Fenwick, political consultant Mandy Grunwald, actress Sarah Thomson, and children’s author Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Tuition: $38,820

39. Hopkins School

(New Haven, Connecticut)


Hopkins is a private, co-ed, college prep day school located across town from Yale University. Founded in 1660, it is one of the oldest schools in the nation.

Hopkins boasts both academic and artistic excellence through its wide assortment of course offerings and co-curricular programs in the arts.

Students are introduced to the concept of ethical leadership early on in their Hopkins careers.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #19 on the top 20 best prep schools list by Forbes
  • Alumni include physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs and composer Charles Ives
  • Tuition: $32,100

40. Boston University Academy

(Boston, Massachusetts)


Boston University Academy (BUA), founded in 1993, is a private, co-ed high school operated by Boston University (BU) and located on its campus. BUA allows juniors and senior students to take BU classes for college credits.

BUA does not focus on teaching-to-the-test or college admission. Rather, the school provides ample opportunities for students to be exposed to the western tradition of critical thinking, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • The Class of 2012 had 39 members qualify for National Merit Commendations
  • Numerous student activities include art, drama, dance, film, math, chess, and robotics clubs
  • Tuition: $33,574

41. St. John’s School

(Houston, Texas)


St. John’s School is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school located in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood.

The school’s mission is to create excellent citizens and leaders, particularly for the Houston area and for the U.S. in general. One hundred percent of students participate in community service, although the school does not require it.

Students are encouraged to complete both independent and directed study projects.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Featured in the Wall Street Journal‘s November 2007 article, “How to Get Into Harvard”
  • Nine percent of graduates in 2007 went to one of the most eight highly selective colleges
  • Alumni include humorist Molly Ivins and publisher and film producer Christy Haubegger
  • Tuition: $21,550

42. Pingry School

(Martinsville, New Jersey)


The Pingry School is a private country day school located not far west of New York City, just north of New Brunswick.

Pingry is home not only to an excellent academic reputation, but also to championship athletic teams and a strong tradition in scholastic press.

Approximately 86% of Upper School students participate in a variety of sports on 55 varsity and junior varsity boys and girls teams.

A multicultural curriculum and cultural competency are valuable part of campus life.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include World War II correspondent and author Richard Tregaskis, physicists Howard Georgi and James A. Yorke, economist N. Gregory Mankiw, filmmaker Todd Solondz, actor Andrew McCarthy, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
  • Tuition: $33,040

43. North Shore Country Day School

(Winnetka, Illinois)


North Shore Country Day School is a private, coeducational, college preparatory day school, which was founded in 1919 and is located near Lake Michigan just north of Chicago.

Through a range of experiences in and out of the classroom, North Shore students are immersed in science, mathematics, humanities, language, and the arts. The school’s broad and ever-evolving curriculum challenges and engages students to strive for personal growth and academic excellence.

North Shore also prides itself on the fact that each student is a part of a community “where each has a voice, is known and is valued.” In addition, “Teachers use global connections to tie learning to real life applications. And students receive a well-rounded education including participation in the arts, athletics and service.”

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Alumni include actress Jessica Harper and pop music singer Richard Marx
  • Tuition: $26,800

44. Sidwell Friends School

(Washington, D.C. & Bethesda, Maryland)


Sidwell Friends School is a private, co-ed day school founded in 1883 by Thomas Sidwell, who had formerly taught in a Baltimore school run by the Society of Friends. Sidwell Friends now has two campuses, in Washington, D.C., and in Bethesda, Maryland.

Guided by its Quaker values, students commit to practice environmental stewardship and to appreciate the differences in one another; there is no class ranking system.

Sidwelll Friends offers a unique and extensive Chinese Studies program. Graduates matriculate at the nation’s top universities.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Highest scores in the nation on the 2005 AP English exam (even though AP English is not offered as a course)
  • Alumni include aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, Nobel Prize–winning chemist Walter Gilbert, novelist Gore Vidal, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Margaret Edson, economist George Akerlof, CIA Director John Deutch, TV news anchor Charles Gibson, TV personality Bill Nye, and Presidential daughters Julie and Trisha Nixon, Chelsea Clinton, and Sasha and Malia Obama
  • Tuition: $34,268

45. Gilman School

(Baltimore, Maryland)


A private, all-men’s school founded in 1897, the Gilman School has the distinction of being the nation’s first country day school.

Gilman is committed to the development of the individual, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Students are required to take visual and performing arts classes, as well as religion courses. They are also required to participate in athletics and community service projects.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Rated one of the top 30 feeder schools to the Ivies by Worth magazine
  • Alumni include author Walter Lord, sportswriter and radio commentator Frank Deford, and U.S. Representative John Sarbanes
  • Tuition: $26,180

46. Greenhill School

(Addison, Texas)


The Greenhill School, a co-ed, non-denominational private day school, lies just outside the city limits on the northwest side of Dallas.

Greenhill offers students the unique chance to shape their own course of study, working with advisors to make class selections pertinent to their needs and interests after the first two years of core study.

The school’s core principles are honor, respect, and compassion, which are instilled in each student, and, “combined with the balanced education, fully prepare them for success throughout their lives.”

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • 84 AP Scholars
  • Class of 2012 produced 10 National Merit Finalists and 17 Commended Scholars
  • Rated as one of the top 40 schools in the nation by the number of matriculants to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, by Worth magazine
  • Alumni include singer-songwriters Martie McGuire and Emily Robison, TV sports commentator Rob Stone, and fashion designer Lela Rose
  • Tuition: $24,850

47. Tower Hill School

(Wilmington, Delaware)


Founded in 1919 with a commitment to progressive education methods, Tower Hill School is rated one of the best college preparatory schools in Delaware.

Students not only excel academically, but also must play at least 10 seasons of interscholastic sports. They are also asked to complete 40 hours of community service, as well as a full credit of Fine Arts classes drawn from the music, theater, and art departments.

AP courses are not offered; instead, students are presented a more rigorous and challenging curriculum.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Ranked #24 in the nation, and #1 in Delaware, in percentage of students attending eight top colleges by the Wall Street Journal
  • Alumni include TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and DuPont CEO Ellen J. Kullman
  • Tuition: $26,425

48. John Burroughs School

(St. Louis, Missouri)


John Burroughs School (known as “Burroughs”) is a co-ed, private day school located on the west side of St. Louis. Its rankings and production of Nation Merit–recognized students speak to the school’s high quality of academic instruction.

In addition to excellent academics, Burroughs—which is named after the famed nineteenth-century naturalist and essayist—seeks to enrich the student outside of the classroom. The school has an appointed office of diversity and multicultural education to ensure that awareness and inclusion spans across the curriculum.

Burroughs does not have a community service requirement for its students, yet more than half of the senior class participates in community service.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Class of 2013 includes 30 National Merit Semi-finalists and 16 Letters of Commendation
  • Ranked among the nation’s top 50 high schools in sending graduates to eight top universities, by the Wall Street Journal
  • Alumni include novelist Jane Smiley and restaurateur Danny Meyer
  • Tuition: $22,900

49. Blake School

(Minneapolis, Minnesota)


The Blake School is a private, co-educational day school, which was founded in 1900 and is located in the Lowry Hill section of Minneapolis.

Prizing ethics and integrity as well as academic excellence, students are required to take a course in communication before graduating.

Seniors must also complete an approved project as a graduation requirement.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • Three-time recipient of the Blue Ribbon Award
  • Ranked #41 in the nation by the Wall Street Journal in 2007
  • Alumni include writers Robert Pirsig, Charles Baxter, and Arthur Phillips, film director George Roy Hill, and comedian and U.S. Senator Al Franken
  • Tuition: $24,450

50. University School Nashville

(Nashville, Tennessee)


University School Nashville (USN), founded in 1888, is a private, co-ed day school located near the Vanderbilt University campus. USN offers students two campuses: a main campus for academics and an 80-acre campus for extra-curricular purposes.

USN has a long-standing commitment to the arts and students enjoy the culture of Nashville.

Belief diversity does not happen in isolation; USN presents a cultural dialogue series to promote multiculturalism on its campus.

Awards, Ranking, Alumni, Tuition:

  • The class of 2012 produced 12 National Merit Semi-Finalists and 13 National Merit Commended Scholars
  • Three Presidential Scholars, 2010–2012
  • Alumni include Noble Prize–winning chemist Stanford Moore, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Robert K. Massie, country music singer Shooter Jennings, and NPR radio broadcaster and MacArthur Fellow Jad Abumrad
  • Tuition: $19,250