General Questions

1. What type of school is Southwestern Academy?

We are an independent boarding and day school for boys and girls, grades 6 through 12. Students from around the world benefit from our exceptional student – teacher ratio, active student body, and challenging educational programs.

2. Is Southwestern Academy a college-preparatory school? If so, how does it prepare high school students for college?

Yes, we are a college-preparatory school, and our classes are based on the University of California’s entrance standards. We offer college counseling to assist our students in the selection and application process. Visit our College Counseling page for more information. Beyond our academic programs, we place a strong emphasis on helping students become independently responsible, with the life skills and study habits necessary for college success.

3. Where is the school located?

Our campus is located in the exclusive community of San Marino, in a historic orange grove area near Pasadena and Los Angeles. It is serviced by Los Angeles International Airport and Hollywood Burbank Airport.

4. Is the school accredited?

Southwestern Academy is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is approved by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security for attendance by international students.

5. What age groups study at Southwestern Academy?

Our San Marino campus enrolls students in grades 6 through 12.

6. Why does a student attend a boarding school?

There are few living environments that can match a boarding school for exposing young people to differing cultures with wide-ranging customs. Our domestic students join our international students to form an amazingly diverse community based upon empathy and forbearance.

7. What are the admissions criteria for acceptance to Southwestern Academy?

We look for students in good academic standing who can benefit from individualized studies and in turn, contribute to a well-rounded and diverse student body. Visit our Admissions area for more information.

8. How does Southwestern Academy embrace diversity?

For decades, Southwestern Academy has enrolled a culturally rich and diverse student body that represents many nations. Students of all economic and social backgrounds attend our school.

9. What is the teacher-to-student ratio?

We pride ourselves on an exceptional student-teacher ratio. That ratio is 6:1 and class sizes average 8-12 students.

10. Are classes grouped by age?

No. Southwestern groups students in classes by achievement, rather than by age. This allows each student to perform up to his or her highest level.

11. How many students attend the school?

Our San Marino Campus can serve 145 students in grades 6-12.

12. What is the cost of tuition for day or boarding students?

Visit our Tuition & Fees page for current tuition costs.

13. Is financial aid available to families?

Financial Aid is available on a need basis. Visit our Financial Assistance page for more information.


1. Do international students go through the same admission process as domestic?

Yes, including a required personal interview.

2. How many international students are accepted per year?

Approximately 35 students each year.

3. What classes can students take while in your ESL program?

English-intensive ESL classes are designed to help students learn the language as quickly as possible. Students take five ESL classes per day and one elective. Classes include Grammar, Writing, Reading, Conversation/Listening, and Vocabulary, among others. Students are divided into Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of English. Additionally, ESL students (Advanced) are enrolled in Math and Science classes.

4. Does your school accept international students as day students?

No. All international students attending Southwestern Academy on F-1 visas are required by U.S. government student visa regulations to be boarding students.

5. Do you issue I-20s?

Yes, we issue I-20s to students who have been accepted to study at our school.

6. Does Southwestern Academy require English test scores from TOEFL, SSAT, or Duolingo?

Not for incoming middle school, freshman or sophomore high school students; however, test scores are helpful in assessing a student for placement in classes, and are strongly encouraged. The Duolingo English Test is required for incoming junior and senior high school students.

7. What countries do your international students come from?

Our students hail from approximately 20 different countries including Brazil, China, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and Viet Nam.

8. How quickly can you process an application for an international student?

Usually in 24 to 48 hours after receipt of a fully completed application.


1. In what types of activities do students participate, when not attending classes?

We offer a variety of activities, including club events, cultural dinners, sports events, community service functions, field trips, and dorm activities. Recreational trips are offered every weekend. Visit our Student Life area to learn more.

2. Are meals included for boarding students seven days a week?

Yes. Three meals a day are served Monday through Friday, and two big meals a day on Saturdays and Sundays.

3. How many students live in each dormitory room?

Dorm rooms vary in size and configuration, and accommodate 2-4 students per room.

4. How do you assign roommates?

Roommates are assigned by age and grade level first, then by mixed nationality.

5. Who supervises the students living in the dormitories?

We have dorm parents who live in the dorms and supervise the students, seven days a week.

6. What hours do students attend school?

The school day officially begins at 8:00 am and ends at 4:30 pm. Activities, sports, and clubs can extend the day depending on the student’s involvement and interests.

7. Do students wear a uniform at school?

Our students do not have a uniform, but we do have a dress code. The full dress code description can be found in our Student and Parent Handbooks.

8. What sports programs are available at Southwestern Academy?

We are in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and compete against other similar-sized schools in soccer, volleyball, basketball, and baseball. We also have club sports in weight training and golf. All students have the opportunity to participate, no matter their experience level. Visit our Sports page to learn more.

9. What type of summer programs are offered at Southwestern Academy?

In our Summer Adventures program, we offer ESL and college-preparatory studies. Students can study for six or twelve weeks. Visit our Summer Adventures page for more information.

“The Southwestern family has nurtured me so that I have become who I am today. It is more than just a school. Southwestern really is a big family where I know I belong.”