SYA’s curriculum is our mission in action. With an interdisciplinary and student-driven approach, there are no clear lines that separate traditional school from experiences outside the high school classroom. Time spent engaging with host families, on educational travel, extracurricular activities and fieldwork are all part of the SYA curricular experience. As students uncover the connections between their coursework and their environment, the world around them amplifies learning. SYA’s experiential model challenges students while encouraging them to take their education into their own hands.

 At the heart of SYA’s high school curriculum is experiential fieldwork. Through fieldwork, students develop key skills and gradually take increased ownership over their education with the support and mentorship of an advisor. As the culmination of the SYA experience, all students complete a final project. While engaging in this hands-on fieldwork, students master the language of their host country and apply SYA’s interdisciplinary and student-driven approach to their six high school courses: English and math (taught in English), the target language, the experiential fieldwork course and two electives. To learn about the electives offered in each country, please visit our France, Italy and Spain pages. 

Learning Through Immersion


The SYA Capstone, or the final project for yearlong students, is designed to provide students with an opportunity to showcase their evolving skills through a comprehensive project. Semester students also complete a final project that rounds out their shorter experience abroad. The project provides students the opportunity to dive into a topic that captures their imagination and interest. Above all, these projects are crafted to embody the SYA mission, highlighting the student’s experience relying on, and engaging with, relevant local resources. It is up to each student to design an experiential project in which they learn by doing. While background knowledge and research are an integral part of a successful capstone, the primary focus is the student experience and it is up to students to demonstrate their learning throughout the project. 

SYA Class of '22 on Their Capstone Projects

U.S. High School Educational Model Taught With a Local Focus

  • SYA is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

  • All three SYA campuses are official test centers for the College Board. Students are able to take the PSAT, SAT and AP tests and receive testing accommodations while abroad. 

  • Each school has a College Counseling Liaison to support sophomores, juniors and seniors through the college process.

  • Students receive advisor reports, unofficial mid-term and official end-of-semester grade reports and comments.

  • The SYA faculty includes both local and American teachers. The majority of faculty hold advanced degrees.

  • At the end of the year, many SYA students take the AP Language and Culture exam relevant to their host country.

  • Students take the Stamp test at the beginning and end of their time at SYA to measure their language proficiency growth.

Learning Beyond the Conventional Classroom

  • Outside of the classroom, the on-site Extra Curricular Coordinator helps students find opportunities to engage with the local community including: sports, art and volunteering.

  • All SYA students live with host families to fully immerse themselves in their host country.

  • At SYA, students conduct fieldwork outings once a week.

Recent SYA Capstone Projects

  • Emily B., from SYA France, interviewed local female entrepreneurs in Brittany.

  • Rogue S., from SYA France, learned about how children in Rennes are taught English in primary school.

  • Piper J., from SYA Italy, composed an original song in Italian. 

  • Ellison D., from SYA Italy, designed and sewed pants based on Italian traditions. 

  • David H., from SYA Spain, built a cajón and preformed traditional flamenco music. 

  • Lila G., from SYA Spain, researched about the disappearing language of Aragonese. 


A white student wearing glasses holds up two shoes hes making wearing a white and green stripped shrit

An SYA student making his own shoes for the experiential component of the capstone project

     An SYA student reviewing manuscripts at a local archive for her capstone research

     An SYA student reviewing manuscripts at a local archive for her capstone research

For more information on specific courses at our three campuses, please visit the Campus Academic pages:

 France - Italy - Spain

SYA is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges .