Phillips Exeter Academy

Admissions Data and Profile

Phillips Exeter Academy
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John and Elizabeth Phillips established Exeter Academy on May 17, 1781. Exeter has grown from those humble beginnings with only one teacher and 56 students to become one of the finest private schools in America.

Exeter has been fortunate over the years to receive some remarkable gifts for its endowment, one of its sources of funding. One gift, in particular, stands out and that is the donation of $5,8000,000 in 1930 from Edward Harkness. The Harkness gift revolutionized teaching at Exeter; the school later developed the Harkness method of teaching and the Harkness table. This educational model is now used in schools around the world. 

The School at a Glance

  • Founded 1781—One of the 15 Oldest Boarding Schools in the US
  • Number of students: 1079
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Number of faculty members: 217; 21% hold doctoral degrees; 60% hold master's degrees
  • Tuition and fees start at: $50,880 for boarding students, $39,740 for day students
  • Percentage of students receiving financial aid: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: ~16%
  • Admissions Deadline: January 15
  • Financial aid materials due: January 31
  • Admission Decisions Released: March 10
  • School Website: Phillips Exeter Academy

As you drive into the scenic colonial town of Exeter in southern New Hampshire, you are quite aware that Exeter, the school, greets you from every quarter. The school dominates the town at the same time as it draws the town into its community and life.

The Academic Program

Exeter offers over 480 courses in 19 subjects (and 10 foreign languages) areas taught by a superb, highly qualified and enthusiastic faculty numbering 208, 84 percent of whom have advanced degrees. Student stats of note: Exeter enrolls more than 1070 students each year, approximately 80 percent of whom are boarders, 39 percent are students of color and 9 percent are international students.

Exeter also offers over 20 sports and an astounding 111 extracurricular activities, with afternoon activities of sports, arts, or other offerings being required. As such, the typical day for an Exeter student runs from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm. 


Exeter has some of the finest facilities of any private school anywhere. The library alone with 160,000 volumes is the largest private school library in the world. Athletic facilities include hockey rinks, tennis courts, squash courts, boat houses, stadia, and playing fields.

Financial Strength

Exeter has the largest endowment of any boarding school in the United States, which is valued at $1.15 billion. As a result, Exeter is able to take very seriously its mission of providing an education for qualified students regardless of their financial circumstances. As such, it prides itself on offering ample financial aid to students, with approximately 50% of applicants receiving aid that totals $22 million annually.


Technology at Exeter is the servant of the academy's vast academic program and community infrastructure. Technology at the academy is state of the art and is guided by a steering committee which plans and implements the academy's technology needs.


Exeter graduates go on to the finest colleges and universities in America and abroad. The academic program is so solid that most Exeter graduates can skip many freshman year courses.


Nearly 70% of all faculty at Exeter resides on campus, meaning students have ample access to teachers and coaches should they need assistance outside of the normal school day. There is a 5:1 student to teacher ratio and class sizes average 12, meaning students get personal attention in every course. 

Notable Faculty and Alumni & Alumnae

Writers, stars of stage and screen, business leaders, government leaders, educators, professionals, and other notables litter the glittering list of Exeter Academy alumni and alumnae. A few names that many may recognize today include Author Dan Brown and US Olympian Gwenneth Coogan, both of whom have served on the faculty at Exeter. Notable alumni include the Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Benchley, and numerous politicians, including US Senators and a US President, Ulysses S. Grant.

Financial Aid

Qualified students from families making less than $75,000 can attend Exeter free of charge. Thanks to Exeter's impeccable financial record, the school prides itself on offering ample financial aid to students, with approximately 50% of applicants receiving some form of aid that totals $22 million annually.

An Appraisal

Phillips Exeter Academy is all about superlatives. The education which your child will get is the best. The philosophy of the school which seeks to link goodness with learning, though it is over two hundred years old, speaks to twenty-first-century young people's hearts and minds with a freshness and relevancy which is simply remarkable. That philosophy permeates the teaching and the famed Harkness table with its interactive teaching style. The faculty is the best. Your child will be exposed to some amazing, creative, enthusiastic and highly qualified teachers.

The Phillips Exeter motto says it all: "The end depends upon the beginning."

 Updated by Stacy Jagodowski

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Your Citation
Kennedy, Robert. "Phillips Exeter Academy." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Kennedy, Robert. (2023, April 5). Phillips Exeter Academy. Retrieved from Kennedy, Robert. "Phillips Exeter Academy." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).