Boarding High Schools

Boarding high schools are the most common type of boarding school in the US. They exist both as freestanding schools for grades 9 through 12 and as part of a wider range of grades, and provide coeducational and single sex education. Read on for more.

Types of Boarding High Schools

Boarding high schools can be categorized in several different ways.

 • Students Accepted—Boarding high schools may be coeducational, all boys, or all girls schools. At this point in history, there are more coeducational boarding high schools in the United States. Coeducational boarding high schools often have separate dormitories for boys and girls.

 • Grades Offered—While there are a number of strictly grade 9–12 schools, there are also a large number of schools that fit other configurations, including:

  • 9–12 with a post-graduate year available
  • 7–12 with or without a post-graduate year
  • 6–12 or 8–12 schools are fewer, but still a fair number, with and without a post-graduate year
  • 5–12 and 3–12 are rare, but do occur
  • 11–12, 10–12, and grade 12 alone are also rare, but do occur.

It’s important to note that a school may have different offerings for day school grades and boarding grades. Thus, a school that is boarding for high school may include a day program for younger students, for example.

Location—Boarding schools of various types are found across the United States and in Puerto Rico.

Focus of Schooling—There are a number of different missions and philosophies undertaken by boarding high schools, including the following:

College Preparatory—Many boarding high schools are aimed at providing students with an outstanding preparation for college through a rigorous academic program provided by highly-qualified faculty. These schools often feature a well-endowed athletic program and other extracurricular activities as well.

• Sports Schools—While a number of college preparatory schools offer a range of athletic programs as intramural sports, for example, some schools have a special focus for all students on a particular sport. For example, Burke Mountain Academy, a coeducational school that combines a college preparatory curriculum with ski racing training in Burke, Vermont, which claims to be “the first sports academy of any kind in this country.” North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vermont is a grade 9–12 (and post graduate) boarding school for girls who wish to pursue hockey as well as a high school education.

• Other Special Interest Schools—Other special interest schools take various forms, ranging from the public boarding schools with a focus on science, engineering, and math to  Interlochen Arts Academy High School with its focus on writing, visual arts, and the performing arts.

• Therapeutic Boarding Schools—These schools, which may range from wilderness and other outdoor programs to family-style settings, have a shared focus on the treatment of a wide range of issues along with addressing the academic needs of students.

• Military Academies—Often with a Junior ROTC program, and with an emphasis on leadership training and a more or less military atmosphere, these schools combine a college preparatory curriculum with an intent to train civic leaders and potential military recruits.

• Religious Schools—Often offer a college preparatory curriculum in a faith-based setting. There are also military academies with a religious affiliation.