Military Boarding Schools

Often referred to—by themselves and others—as “military academies,” military boarding schools, which may be boys-only or coeducational are a segment of college preparatory schools that have an additional focus on discipline and leadership. Read on for more.

The Secondary Military Boarding Schools

While the branches of the United States Armed Forces offer schooling to their recruits that could qualify as “military boarding school” because it’s run by the military and students stay on campus, what is usually meant by the term is the secondary level military academies. Now both coeducational as well as boys only, they were all boys schools once, when only boys could serve in the US military. A number of them still have an affiliation through Junior ROTC, which may be mandatory for enrollees. They may also call students cadets, and have a hierarchical  structure for younger and older students, with the most promising holding internal leadership positions.

Another name by which they are known is “military prep schools,” a name that speaks to both their focus on college preparatory academics and the foundational training in leadership and discipline that are considered hallmarks of the military.

Graduates of military boarding schools are very likely to attend college. Some will go on to military service, or enrollment in the officer’s training academies of one of the branches of the US Armed Forces.

There are both public and private military boarding schools, and while most include the high school years (grades 9 through 12), some include one or more middle school years (8–12, 7–12, or 6–12), and there is at least one junior military school. About a quarter of the military boarding schools offer a post-graduate year. About half of the private military boarding schools are coeducational, and half boys only. Public military school are coeducational and are much more likely to serve students in grades 9 through 12 only, and they also are day, rather than boarding schools.

Whereas the majority of the private military schools are in the southern half of the country, including the Southeast, the majority of the public military schools are in the Midwest, with the largest contingent being in Chicago. Nearly all the schools—both public and private—have academy in their names, and most have military academy.  Several of the private military academies have a religious affiliation, including those whose name includes a saint’s name, as well as Texas Military Academy, which has an Episcopalian link.

A number of military boarding schools offer a summer program. This program is sometimes created to provide a transition into the school, particularly for students for whom it will be the first boarding experience. Summer school can also be an opportunity for academic remediation, on the one hand, fitting in an extra course, or getting ahead in a particular subject. Some military boarding schools offer summer-camp-like programs, that combine sports, arts and crafts, theater, and games, while others offer opportunities that have more of the character of athletic training, and some are a combination of all these, and may offer workshops in engineering, technology, and other high-interest topics.