11 Best Private High Schools in America

11 Best Private High Schools in America

Attending a top private high school provides a solid academic foundation, and it helps students gain entrance into first-rate colleges, which in turn helps prepare them for the challenges of the real world.

Niche, a company that researches and assembles information on schools, released its latest rankings of the best private high schools in America.

The survey looked at more than 3,000 private high schools across the US, using a number of factors such as SAT and ACT scores, graduation rate, school culture, diversity, and college enrollment to determine its ranks. 

And from that list, Student major has brought out the 11 best private high schools in America, in which you as a parent or guardian can send your child or ward too.

So, let’s begin.

11. Milton Academy

Milton, Massachusetts

Milton Academy (also known as Milton) is a coeducational, independent preparatory, boarding, and day school in Milton, Massachusetts. The school consists of a grade 9–12 Upper School and a grade K–8 Lower School. The boarding option is offered from 9th grade. It is a highly selective school, it only accepted 14% of applicants in the 2020-21 school year. Historically, it has been an informal feeder school for Harvard University.

Milton is an associate of the Independent School League (ISL). 

Upon entrance to Junior year, the students begin meeting with the college counseling department to ensure the students are prepared for the applications that follow the next fall. The students work closely with these counselors, which makes the whole process easier and much more personalized.

10. Dalton School

New York, New York

The Dalton School is a private, coeducational college preparatory school in New York City and an associate of both the New York Interschool and the Ivy Preparatory School League. The school is situated in four buildings on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The Dalton School, originally called the Children’s University School, was founded by Helen Parkhurst in 1919. 

Parkhurst’s “Dalton Plan”, to which the school still adheres, mirrored the Progressive Education movement that had started in the late nineteenth century.

Encouraged by the progressive education movement, Helen Parkhurst created what she called the Dalton Plan. With the aim to achieve a balance between each child’s talents and the needs of the growing American community, Parkhurst created an educational model with three purposes: to personalize each student’s program to his or her needs, interests, and abilities; to promote both independence and dependability, and to enhance the student’s social skills and sense of responsibility toward others. The Dalton Plan continues to define the school’s approach to education, encompassing House, Assignment, and Lab.

Over the years, the Dalton Plan has been implemented by schools around the world, including schools in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, England, Korea, the Netherlands, and Japan.

9. Lakeside School

Seattle, Washington.

Lakeside School is an elite private/independent school situated in Seattle, Washington for grades 5–12. As of 2021, Niche ranks Lakeside School as the best private high school in Washington state and the 23rd best private high school in the United States.

All courses at Lakeside are college preparatory, and although AP courses are not offered, the majority meet and exceed the vigorous depth of the AP curriculum. Honors courses are only offered in science and math. Graduation requirements involve 2 years of Arts, 2 years of Science, 3 years of History, 3 years of Math, 4 years of English, 3 years in either a foreign language offered (Chinese/French /Latin/Spanish) or 2 years in two foreign languages, and 2 years of Physical Education. 

Additionally, students are required to partake in one week of Outdoor Education before graduation and perform 80 service hours (on average 146 hours reported per student), at least 60 of which must be off-campus.

Naturally, 100% of students go on to matriculate at four-year colleges, with 88% of graduates out-of-state.

8. San Francisco University High School

San Francisco, California.

San Francisco University High School is a private college preparatory high school located in San Francisco, California. The school was established in 1976.

The school is made up of four buildings, commonly referred to as Upper, Middle, Lower, and South campuses.

Upper Campus is the oldest and most historic part of campus. It houses the English and History Departments, administrative offices, and College Counseling offices. Middle Campus, connected to Upper Campus by a bridge, houses the school library; a 400-seat theater; the student center and cafeteria; state-of-the-art science labs; music rooms, including an electronic music recording room; and the Summerbridge program. 

Lower Campus is home to the Math and Science Departments. It also holds the fitness center, gym, changing rooms, and athletic offices. 

South Campus, which opened in the 2006–2007 school year, is the home of the Art Department and the Foreign Language Department.

In order to graduate, students must take 2 years of art (including the mandatory Western Civilization course in their sophomore year), 3 years of Mathematics, 4 years of English, 3 years of a foreign language (with Mandarin, French, Spanish, and Latin offered), 2 years of Science,  2 years of History excluding Western Civilization, and in addition to Community Service Learning requirements.

7. The Hotchkiss School

Lakeville, Connecticut.

The Hotchkiss School is a coeducational preparatory school in Lakeville, Connecticut, United States. Hotchkiss is an associate of the Eight Schools Association and Ten Schools Admissions Organization. He is also a former member of the G30 Schools group.

The school has a 40% diverse student body in which consists of 21% international students. The school offers a School Year Abroad program and is a member of the Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), Round Square, and Confucius Institute International Division (Hanban). 

Hotchkiss provides a classical education, 224 courses, 7 foreign languages (Chinese, French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian, and Spanish), and study abroad programs.

The school has a 100% college matriculation rate, and among the classes of 2011–14, 33 enrolled at Yale, 19 at Harvard, and 16 at Princeton. In 2007, The Wall Street Journal listed Hotchkiss as among the schools with a higher success rate (than Choate and Deerfield) in matriculation at Princeton, Harvard, and six others (excluding Yale).

6. Trinity School

New York, New York

Trinity School is an extremely selective autonomous, preparatory, co-educational day school for grades K–12 located in the Upper West Side neighborhood in the Manhattan region of New York City, New York, United States. 

The school is a member of both the New York Interschool and the Ivy Preparatory School League. It is regarded as one of the most elite private high schools in the United States, sending over 40% of graduating students to Ivy League schools.

The Lower and Middle School courseloads are very structured, and ninth and tenth graders are have limited flexibility in their courses. Juniors and seniors, however, have the flexibility to select electives and other courses. English is the only subject mandated through three years in the Upper School. Math is for 3 years, languages for 3 years, and lab sciences for 2 years. Though there is a requirement for religion and Physical Education. 

Trinity is also noteworthy for having a full Classics department, which is widely recognized as one of the strongest in America. Over 40% of the student body takes either Latin or Greek, while more than 60% take two languages.

5. Castilleja School

Palo Alto, California

Castilleja School is a school for girls in grades six through twelve, situated in Palo Alto, in America. Castilleja is the only non-sectarian all-girls middle and high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. The faculty comprises of approximately 70 full-time and part-time women and men. Castilleja is a member of the California Association of Independent Schools and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools.

The school is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and the College Board. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal recognized Castilleja School as one of the world’s top 50 schools for its success. In 2009, Castilleja was given the highest accreditation rating by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Castilleja was named one of the Bay Area’s Best Private Schools by San Jose Magazine.

4. Horace Mann School

New York, New York

Horace Mann School is a private, independent college-preparatory school in the Bronx, founded in 1887. Horace Mann is an associate of the Ivy Preparatory School League, educating students from the New York metropolitan area from nursery school to the twelfth grade

There are a wide variety of classes, a remarkable amount of diversity among the students, and a lot of options for extracurriculars. The school does an amazing job at catering to the interests of its students as well as offering new opportunities. 

Horace Mann offers 26 Honors courses and 7 foreign languages.

Students in the Upper Division are mandated to study English, United States history, World history, chemistry, biology, physics, geometry, algebra, and trigonometry, and also meet several requirements in the arts, health and counseling, computer science, and physical education.

3. The College Preparatory School

Oakland, California

The College Preparatory School known as CPS or College Prep is a four-year private high school in Oakland, California. 

Students are not differentiated between enrollment in honors and standard courses, as all classes are educated at the honors level, and are chosen as such by the University of California. Students are mandated to take three years of core curricular classes and an extra year of English. Several AP classes are not offered but students are given extracurricular preparation if they want.

2. Ransom Everglades School

Miami, Flordia

Ransom Everglades is an independent, non-profit, co-educational, college-preparatory day school in Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida, serving grades six to twelve. It is mostly known as a college preparatory school and 100% of Ransom Everglades’ students enroll at a 4-year institution after graduation.

The faculty members are fantastic and really helpful. The facilities and materials at the student’s disposal are phenomenal and greatly help in the learning process for all classes, especially the science-oriented ones.

1. Phillips Exeter Academy

Exeter, New Hampshire

Phillips Exeter Academy also known as Exeter or PEA is a highly selective, coeducational independent school for boarding and day students in grades 9 through 12. The school also offers a secondary postgraduate program. Situated in Exeter, New Hampshire, Phillips Exeter Academy is one of the oldest secondary schools in the United States

Exeter uses an 11-point grading system, in which an A is worth 11 points and an E is worth 0 points. The school has a student-to-teacher ratio of about 5:1. The majority of the faculty have advanced degrees in their fields. It is compulsory for students who enroll at Exeter for four years to take courses in the arts, history, classical or modern languages, health & human development, computer science, English, mathematics, religion, and science. 

Most students receive an English diploma, but students who take the full series of Ancient Greek and Latin classes receive a Classical diploma.

FAQ on 11 best private high schools in America 

Do US high schools give scholarships to colleges for foreigners?


Is it possible to study abroad in high school for free?

Look or research for scholarship options. But most schools are not free if anything top high schools are more expensive.

How hard is it to get a college scholarship?

It is actually easier to get a college scholarship. Just have great grades and it will boost your chances of getting a scholarship.

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