International Students

Beck Photography, 2014Students from all over the world have always played an important role in life at The Phelps School.  We have a well-earned reputation for meeting students’ unique learning needs while promoting cultural diversity, a vital aspect of our traditions as a Pennsylvania boarding school. Foreign students improve their English skills and experience American culture through their daily interactions in the classroom and in dorm life.  We provide academic support as well as specialized ESL (English as a Second Language) classes depending upon each student’s needs.   And students enjoy wide-ranging activities after school and events on weekends for fun and fellowship with new-found friends.

Admissions Process

To download the application materials, please visit our Admissions Forms page. Complete and send the application to our Admissions Office as soon as possible, along with a school transcript in English, two recommendations, a copy of the student’s passport photo page, and the application fee.  Once the student is accepted for enrollment, you (parents) can sign the Enrollment Agreement and return it to the Admissions Office along with the tuition deposit ($10,000).  Only then can an I-20 can be issued.


Students’ travel to and from Phelps is the family’s responsibility.  (The school does not provide or arrange for transportation except for pick-up from the local train station.)  At the start of the school year, returning international students are available to help the new students “settle in.”  If a new international student needs personal items for his dormitory room, transportation and help with a quick shopping spree can be provided.

An ESL (English as a Second Language) Summer Program begins one week before the start of the school year (in late August) to help new international students get acclimated.


Students live in seven dormitories. Faculty members reside in each building and are available to assist and supervise students as needed.  Visit the Housing page to find out more about residences on campus.


The school campus is closed during Thanksgiving Break (a week in November), Winter Break (two weeks in late December to early January) and Spring Break (two weeks in March). Students who cannot travel home must make other temporary living/stay arrangements during the breaks.  Students (and/or their parents) must make their travel reservations well in advance and notify the Dean of Students.  The school can provide transportation to and from the train station and airport at the start of each vacation period.

Beck Photography, 2014

Beck Photography, 2014

At Work

The Phelps School has successfully integrated foreign students in the American educational system for many years. In the past ten years, all of our international graduates who have applied to American colleges and universities have been accepted. Our English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are taught by professionals trained and experienced in teaching English to foreign students.  That’s why we can accept and work well with students at any level of English proficiency.  While we do not require specific TOEFL scores for admission, scores do help us place students appropriately in our four levels of ESL. We require a TOEFL score of 90 before allowing students to enter mainstream classes.

We handle arrangements for juniors and seniors to take the TOEFL test at various times throughout the year.

The core of our philosophy is to expose the student to as much English as possible while providing a safety net of support. Our ESL students are mainstreamed into most core classes for full academic credit. Instead of a regular English class, however, they are placed into ESL classes where they can work at their own level and speed to build their English language skills. Students who need additional help take scaffolded history and science classes to assist with vocabulary. At the end of each class day, students can take advantage of the tutorial period to see teachers for extra help or explanations.

At Play

Many enduring friendships are formed on the playing fields.

Beck Photography, 2014

Our interscholastic sports teams include soccer, cross country, basketball, golf, tennis, baseball, wrestling, and lacrosse. Students also enjoy afternoon activities in music, studio art, gardening, bowling, film appreciation, indoor sports, photography, yearbook, ultimate frisbee, and other games that students request.

Weekends offer wide-ranging activities and off campus events, as well as on-campus movies, inter-dorm sports competitions, and trips to the local shopping mall. Dances with girls’ schools are regularly scheduled throughout the year. The boys may also sign up for trips to professional sports events in Philadelphia  – football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, even WWF wrestling bouts. They may go to concerts, theater productions, museums, movie theaters, local restaurants, or into Philadelphia for shopping or sightseeing. Other activities, such as hiking, rafting and The Renaissance Faire, are scheduled in season.