School Year Abroad - SPAIN

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History of SYA

History of SYA


School Year Abroad (SYA) was founded in September 1964 as Schoolboys Abroad when, with the backing of Phillips Academy (MA) 11 students and three teachers departed for Spain aboard the MS Aurelia. Phillips Exeter Academy (NH) became a cosponsor in 1965 and St. Paul’s School (NH) joined as the third sponsor in 1968.

School openings

1964 – SYA Spain opened in Barcelona with an inaugural class of 11 boys.
1967 – SYA France opened in Rennes with an inaugural class of 42 boys.
1970 – The program became coeducational and changed its name to School Year Abroad. 
1972 – Additional secondary schools were invited to join SYA as members of our consortium.
1975 - SYA became a fully independent, non-profit 501 (c)3. 
1976 – School Year Abroad was legally established as a nonprofit institution, with a board of trustees
comprising the heads of the three charter schools.
1994 – SYA China opened in Beijing with 18 students. The first group of American secondary-level students
given permission to study in China during the school year. 
1999 – SYA Spain moves to Zaragoza in Aragon, Spain.  
2001 – SYA Italy opened in Viterbo with 47 young classics scholars who aspired to study ancient languages,
history and art in situ. 
2006 – SYA Summer China opens.
2008 – SYA Summer France opens.
2010 – SYA Summer Spain opens.
2011 – SYA Summer Italy opens. 
2014-15 – SYA celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The SYA experience

Each fall, SYA brings approximately 60 juniors and seniors in high school to each of its four locations around the world.  Since 1964 close to 7,500 alumni have passed through SYA’s doors including more than 130 students who studied at exploratory programs in Germany, India, Japan and Vietnam. SYA’s unique formula of a yearlong program comprising homestay, travel and demanding academic curriculum taught in two languages has changed little since its founding. Years of experience and the maturation of the program have brought about countless new opportunities for SYA students and have made us continuously more effective in choosing host families, native instructors and teachers from the United States. 

Member schools

SYA is now supported by a consortium including 43 top independent schools across the U.S., SYA is the only secondary-level program which requires high school students to live with a European or Asian family for an entire academic year while earning U.S. high school graduation credits and preparing for selective U.S. colleges and universities at home and abroad.


School Year Abroad
120 Water Street, Suite 310, North Andover, MA 01845 978.725.6828
© 2014 SYA. All rights reserved.