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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, a dozen students and three teachers departed for Spain aboard the SS Aurelia. Phillips Exeter Academy became a cosponsor in 1965 and St.Paul’s School (New Hampshire) joined as the third sponsor in 1968.

SYA France opened in Rennes in 1967 with an inaugural class of 42 boys. In 1970, the program became coeducational and changed its name to School Year Abroad. Two years later, additional secondary schools were invited to join SYA as members of our consortium. In 1976, School Year Abroad was legally established as a nonprofit institution, with a board of trustees comprising the heads of the three charter schools.

In August 1994, SYA launched a groundbreaking project in the People’s Republic of China. Eighteen pioneers made up the first group of American secondary-level students to live and study in China during the regular school year. In 1995, a group of 29 continued to make educational history as the first American high school students to enjoy long-term home stays in Beijing. SYA Italy opened its doors in September 2001 with a healthy enrollment of 47 young classics scholars who aspired to study ancient languages, history and art in situ. Vietnam’s inaugural class of 16 students arrived in Hanoi in August 2009. This group of innovative students focused on sustainable development, public health and international policy, among other special topics examined within the curriculum.

Each fall, SYA brings approximately 60 juniors and seniors in high school to each of its locations around the world. SYA now has nearly 7,000 alumni; including more than 130 students who studied in exploratory programs in Germany, India, Japan and Vietnam. Our unique formula of homestay, travel and demanding academic curriculum taught in two languages has changed little since our 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. Because of the excellent reputation that our schools have earned over the years, we have many friends in our home cities who enable our students to become at home in the world. 

SYA is now supported by a consortium including 44 top independent schools across the country, School Year Abroad (SYA) is the only secondary-level program which allows 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.

School Year Abroad
120 Water Street, Suite 310, North Andover, MA 01845 978.725.6828
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