Though the vast majority of America's estimated 16 million high school students attend one of the country's public high schools, more than 1 million others attend private institutions for their secondary education. Most of these private institutions are religiously affiliated, with the overwhelming majority of religious, private high schools having associated themselves with a Christian denomination. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Christian high schools in the United States that offer varying degrees of educational quality, Christian teachings, and extracurricular opportunities, but only 25 of these schools rank as the best of the best. This ranking discusses each of those 25 schools in great detail.
For this ranking, several factors were considered. One of the most important factors was the high school's commitment to Christianity itself, as well as Christian values in the classroom. This is a primary reason for choosing a Christian high school: Moral teachings and a faith-based approach give parents confidence that their children will become well-rounded adults with a sense of moral purpose.
In addition to a serious commitment to Christian teachings, high schools are ranked based on their availability of extracurricular activities, their college matriculation rate, the size and scope of their alumni network, and the academic rigor that prepares students for the next phase in their lives. Factors like "brand name" and prestige also play into this ranking, since many Christian high schools are among the best high schools in the United States. All ranked high schools are also day schools; no boarding schools were selected for this ranking.
Whitefield Academy serves Louisville students from pre-school through their final year of high school. In fact, Whitefield operates one of the few Kentucky-accredited preschools in the country. This makes the school a top choice for parents who value continuity as well as Christian values in their children's academic careers. At the high school level, students must take a minimum of 24 credits in order to graduate. At least two of those credits must be in a faith-based course. Students typically are required to take a Christian theology course and can then choose a faith-based elective to fulfill the requirement.
In addition to strong academics, Whitefield offers extracurricular opportunities that range from dozens of sports teams to an orchestra, choir, band, student council, and much more. The school is centered on a belief that all families should be able to afford a Christian education. As a result, the institution regularly gives out more than $4 million annually in scholarship funds to families who demonstrate financial need.
Veritas is one of the few Christian academies in the United States that has its own international program, which accepts students from all across the globe to study in its faith-based classrooms. Each course at the academy is centered on the concept of "grammar," which teaches students the fundamental structure and syntax of both language and other topics, like science and mathematics. Logic and rhetoric also factor into each course in a major way: Students are taught how to present and defend a point, and how to speak and write with purpose, in every course.
Veritas offers an honors track to its best students, which prepares them for the Advanced Placement exam in a given subject each spring. In addition to strong academics, the school offers several sports teams and numerous fine arts programs that it believes contributes to a well-rounded life. Though participation is not mandatory, it's strongly required. A daily chapel requirement is also part of the school's commitment to its students' faith and Christian understanding.
More than 95 percent of students matriculate to a college or university in the United States after graduating from Valley Christian High School in Chandler, AZ. That's one of the best college matriculation rates in the nation. It's even more impressive when one considers that this school serves both traditional and special needs children with equal effectiveness. This effort began in earnest in 2006 and has since made the school one of the most inclusive in the country when it comes to special needs students.
In addition to a traditional high school curriculum centered on language, literature, science, and mathematics, VCHS requires its students to attend daily Bible classes, a weekly worship meeting, several prayer meetings throughout the year, and special community service events. Extracurricular opportunities are available and varied, ranging from the arts to a few popular sports teams.
Sioux Falls Christian Schools has gone to great lengths to ensure that its students can study in any manner that fits their needs. The school offers a "CTE Academy," which is focused on career and technical education skills. College preparatory coursework is also available at the school. The school also offers its students the ability to take several courses online. In fact, some courses are available only online due to classroom availability or class size limitations. International students are also welcome at the school.
One of the most notable charitable works pursued by Sioux Falls Christian Schools is a sponsorship of students in Haiti. The school sponsors 200 students in the Caribbean country, at $75 each. Students are also encouraged to travel to Haiti to do both missionary and charitable work in distressed communities. Traditional sports and fine arts extracurricular are also offered.
Rehoboth Christian School is located centrally in New Mexico's "Navajo country," which gives the school a unique opportunity to blend cultures and offer unique learning experiences to its students. The school's student body is quite diverse, including both Native American students and their peers from outside the Navajo region of the state. The curriculum is designed to merge the history of Navajo Nation with the teachings of Scripture, which results in a well-rounded and unique experience throughout the high school core.
In addition to traditional college preparatory coursework, Rehoboth Christian School offers honors coursework, AP classes and exams, and even teaches the Navajo language. students can participate in any number of extracurricular activities, including community service, band, choir, and missionary trips around the country and the world.
Located between the northern Philadelphia suburbs and the growing Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, Plumstead Christian School is one of the best Christian high schools in the eastern part of the Keystone State. The school is particularly notable for its Bible-centered curriculum, which is one of the most extensive in the country. From Exegesis and theology to courses in Christian values, these Bible-centered courses provide a solid foundation of Christian moral teachings that many parents find essential for their children.
Students at Plumstead Christian School also have the opportunity to enroll in dual-credit programs with nearby Bucks County Community College, or they enroll in honors and AP courses. More than 30 elective credits are available as part of the college preparatory program, giving students the skills and coursework they need to attend a world-class university.
Charleston's Porter-Gaud School is committed to a blend of "faith and honor" throughout its entire curriculum, which sees students combine a general education core with Bible courses that convey Christian values. The school is also rigidly college-prep in its curriculum, and students begin planning for their college experience as soon as they enter the Upper School.
This rigorous curriculum and planning is credited for a more than 90 percent college matriculation rate at Porter-Gaud. The school leads in this metric in South Carolina. Weekly Bible study sessions are generally broken down into groups by gender and age, and help to drive home the Christian concepts that are taught to larger, more diverse groups in the traditional classroom.
The Upper Midwest is a hub of Lutheran worship and academic activity, which can be seen in the structure of daily classes at Fargo's Oak Grove Lutheran School. Whereas many Christian schools hold worship meetings weekly, or perhaps never, Oak Grove actually requires students to attend worship on a daily basis, typically before they head to their first class.
When students do arrive in class, they're greeted with a college preparatory curriculum that blends Christian values and teachings into more traditional subject matter. The curriculum is centered on Lutheran ideology, and is quite rigorous, resulting in a very high college matriculation rate. As one of the largest Lutheran schools in the Dakotas, the school's brand is strong and its reputation is top-notch regionally.
Many of the best stories begin with a few friends in a garage, and that's actually how Noah Webster Christian School began back in 1990. The school traces its origins to an initial, 6-person classroom in the founder's garage. Growth since then has been dramatic and dynamic, with an increasingly diverse student body that comes from throughout the Cheyenne area.
More than 20 area churches are represented by the student body, which studies at the school from kindergarten through their final year of high school. The strong, college-prep curriculum is backed strongly by Christian teachings. In fact, a Bible course is required of Upper School students. By graduation, students score very highly on the ACT and have a very strong college matriculation rate.
At Mount Zion Christian Schools, community service is a central part of the curriculum. Students are reminded, through a Bible-centered curriculum and a focus on Christian values, that they should give back to the communities in which they live. Most extracurricular activities, therefore, focus on community service, fundraising, and missionary outreach.
The Bible-centered curriculum at the school adheres to a college preparatory focus that allows students to qualify for virtually any university admissions process in the country. Thanks to a central focus on college planning from the start of a student's high school experience, the school has a college matriculation rate of more than 85 percent for its most recently graduated class.
Perhaps a unique aspect of Lynden Christian School is the school's management structure. While many Christian schools are run by faith-based groups, nuns, or other religious figures, Lynden is actually run by the parents of the student body. This is, in effect, a governing body that "owns" the student experience from pre-kindergarten through high school graduation. The result is direct parent involvement in the curriculum and other activities.
Parent involvement has helped the school focus on the Christian values that matter most to families in Lynden and the surrounding areas. A strong commitment to the Christian values of charity and humility can be seen throughout the curriculum. Notably, students come from a variety of Christian denominations and therefore learn from each other about differences in Christian theology, worship, and practice. The school has a strong AP and honors program for high-achieving students as well, making it a great choice for gifted and talented individuals.
Little Rock Christian Academy believes that each of its students has the potential to be a high-achieving scholar. The evidence of this belief is quite simple: In just the last five years, the school graduated 31 National Merit Scholars and expanded its lineup of Advanced Placement courses significantly. The school has more state and faith-based accreditations to its name than any other institution in Arkansas, making it both a top-notch academic institution as well as a top choice for parents who believe in a faith-informed curriculum.
To make sure that the school stays true to its Christian ideals, all students take a series of classes known as "Biblical View." The classes focus both on traditional Christian teachings and the application of those teachings to contemporary events and personal issues. This series of courses revised every year to ensure that it remains current.
In the western part of the country, Judge Memorial is known as an athletic powerhouse. In recent years, the school has actually focused a great deal of efforts on developing athletic talent and guiding top athletes toward the academic requirements necessary to land a lucrative athletic scholarship at a Division I school. The school has also partnered with more than 150 local agencies in Salt Lake City to provide students with unparalleled opportunities for community service in the Catholic tradition.
As one of the few, and one of the largest, Catholic high schools in Utah, Judge Memorial offers students a wide array of college preparatory course options. Students can also elect to take AP courses or qualify for an honors track that presents more advanced material for the duration of their high school enrollment. With a college matriculation rate of more than 90 percent, the school is an excellent choice for Utah families with student-athletes or aspiring college scholars.
Family and mentorship are key underpinnings of a JECS education. To that end, all students entering the ninth grade must choose a faculty member to serve as their mentor throughout high school. This mentorship extends to academic, personal, and faith-based issues that concern the student throughout their time at the school. Families are also invited to a picnic at the beginning of each year as a way to building a learning community that unites students, faculty, and the family.
Unique among Christian schools, all students attending JECS must complete a 5-day mission trip abroad prior to graduating. This trip is designed to bring students closer to God. During this trip, students reflect on the Christian teachings of the last four years and relate it to their future in other missions or at a university.
With a student body of more than 1,000, JHS is the largest Christian high school in the state of Oregon. Those students are asked to commit to a life of service and to causes greater than themselves, from their first day of enrollment. All students commit to clubs, faith-based activities, and even brown-bag lunches, as a way to interact with each other, get to know new people, and gain exposure to new ideas and communities. The school's college matriculation rate of more than 95 percent puts it well ahead of virtually all other Christian schools in Oregon and is a significant reason that its student body continues to grow in size each year.
New Jersey's Eastern Christian School serves students from pre-kindergarten through their senior year of high school. Approximately 300 students at ECS are enrolled in the high school, making it one of the larger Christian academies in the Garden State. The school is best known for its accommodation of struggling students, who can take a more basic series of courses in high school in order to better prepare themselves for a successful college admissions process.
At ECS, students must attend a weekly chapel meeting each Wednesday. All students are also required to complete several hours of community service each year in order to maintain good standing at the school. Most community service revolves around faith-based organizations and causes local to the North Haledon community.
Based in Texas and serving more than 40 zip codes throughout North Texas, The Covenant School is one of the largest Christian high schools in the country to focus on a "classical" style of education. This extends beyond traditional subject matter, however. All students are required to take Latin courses, beginning in the third grade, and maintain a commitment to Latin throughout the duration of their academic career at the school.
Alongside classical art, language, science, math, and Bible-centered classes, this commitment to the classics is particularly prestigious and helps students succeed in the college admissions process. The school boasts a very high college matriculation rate and has many students enrolled in honors courses.
When it comes to academic prestige, few schools can compete with Carmel Catholic. The school offers a whopping 19 Advanced Placement courses to its students, and a significant portion of the student body enrolls in more than two AP courses by the end of their senior year of high school. Carmel Catholic's students often opt to take four years of science classes, though only three years of instruction are required in this area.
A full 25 percent of graduating seniors go on to study a science or engineering field at a major university after graduation. In terms of faith-based education, both weekly worship services and several religious theory courses are required. Most students also elect to participate in summer mission trips or community service projects.
Hailing from 47 different communities and more than 100 different churches, the student body at Brethren Christian is quite diverse in background and faith teaching. The school unifies these various backgrounds under a single faith-based curriculum, which seeks to teach students about the Christian faith through worship services, religious coursework, and annual community involvement. Many students also participate in mission trips or a "puppet ministry" that consists entirely of students with a strong commitment to Christian teachings.
When it comes to academic rigor and college preparation, few schools can hold a candle to Bradford Christian Academic in Haverhill, MA. The school's students undertake a rigorous, college preparatory curriculum that includes several Christian theory and theology classes. Upon completion of the curriculum, 100 percent of students are prepared for college and more than 95 percent of students enroll in a top-ranked institution of higher learning.
Students annually qualify for an average of $30,000 in merit aid from colleges based on their coursework and achievement at this faith-based institution. Additionally, the school's choir and band have regularly appeared at Carnegie Hall and its weekly chapel services are considered a hallmark of the student experience.
Known for being in a small New England community, Barrington Christian Academy routinely hosts students from China, South Korea, and Vietnam in its classrooms. Local families host international students, who enrich the classroom experience in a major way. In addition to its strong, college preparatory curriculum, Barrington strongly encourages students to participate in faith-based charity efforts, including fundraising, building homes for those in need, and even going to on mission trips to the Dominican Republic.
One of the hallmarks of an Asheville Christian Academy education is the "Winterim" session for Upper School students. The "Winterim" session, which runs during February and March, is when many students participate in international mission trips, faith-based community service, or intensive religious study. Otherwise, the education at ACA is relatively standard for college-bound students, consisting of language, math, science, foreign language, Christian theology, and more. The school sends many students to local colleges with a fundamental knowledge of how to live as a child of Christ in modern society.
Founded by the Church of Christ in 1942, today Alabama Christian Academy enrolls more than 1,000 students. A daily Bible class is required of all students, along with regular chapel meetings and small "Bible breakout sessions" in small groups. The college preparatory curriculum at Alabama Christian takes a classical approach, though no Latin is required. Dual enrollment programs are offered with local Faulkner University; AP courses are open to high-achieving students as well. The school's top-notch sports teams have seen several graduates awarded with NCAA Division I athletic scholarships in recent years, at schools like Auburn and Texas A&M.
Founded in 1785 just outside Philadelphia, the Episcopal Academy has long been one of the nation's top private schools. In fact, the school consistently ranks among the 5 best private institutions of secondary education in the country. In addition to its more than 200-year history and a great deal of prestige, Episcopal Academy has a deep commitment to faith that is manifested in its daily chapel services, faith-based core curriculum, and its encouragement of parent involvement with scripture. The school offers nearly 20 AP classes and routinely sends more than 90 percent of its graduating class to prestigious universities across the country.
Episcopal Academy has graduated numerous famous alumni in its 200-year history, ranging from former senators and governors to Hollywood personalities like M. Night Shyamalan. As a result, students often hear from influential visitors to campus and are granted access to an impressive alumni network when they receive their diploma. Thanks in no small part to its impressive alumni and deep connections to Philadelphia's Main Line, the school also has the distinction of presiding over a large endowment and an impressive list of high-dollar annual donors that have helped Episcopal Academy build a brand new campus just south of its original location.
Archbishop Carroll enjoys something of a storied reputation among DC social circles, largely for its liberal approach to education upon its founding in 1951. At the time, schools in DC and across the country were still largely segregated by race or gender. From its first days in operation, however, Archbishop Carroll has never discriminated against, or segregated, students based on their race, gender, religion, or other qualities. This made the school highly attractive in an increasingly diverse city. In 1989, three other Archdiocesan schools in the city closed and sent their students to ACHS, nearly doubling enrollment.
Because of its increasing size and its reputation for academic prestige, including the largest list of AP courses offered by any private school in the District, Archbishop Carroll remains a strong choice for the well-connected, powerful, and ambitious. The school proudly educates the sons and daughters of America's political class, but also offers a helping hand to working-class DC families. In fact, the school's scholarship program is one of the most generous in the metropolitan area. Coupled with excellent extracurricular opportunities and a strong college matriculation rate above 90 percent, Archbishop Carroll High School is a strong, private, Christian institution in a city where public high schools have struggled in recent decades.