It’s no secret that Washington DC is home to some of the best schools in the nation. In fact, DC’s private school circuit features over 100 institutions, all of which tout small class sizes, college-driven curriculums, and million-dollar upgrades. However, there are a few schools that outrank the competition—and you might be familiar with some of their alumni.

Sidwell Friends School

Established in 1883 by Thomas W. Sidwell, the Sidwell Friends School is a prestigious Quaker institution that has educated the children of royalty and US presidents. Only 7% of applicants are lucky enough to be accepted into Sidwell’s rigorous program, which serves students from pre-kindergarten to high school. 

New multi-million dollar features include energy efficient LEED-certified buildings, a spacious courtyard, and an underground parking garage. As if that isn’t enough, Sidwell boasts an overall class size of just 13 students, and their sports programs have produced Olympians and professional athletes.

National Cathedral School 

The National Cathedral School is an independent Episcopal school for girls serving students from fourth grade to high school. Here, girls receive individualized instruction through a diverse yet challenging curriculum, which focuses on building leadership skills that will leave an impact even after graduation.

Although the campus is steeped in over a century of history, the National Cathedral School offers plenty of modern innovations and emphasizes STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Notable alumna include President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughters, as well as Susan Rice.

St. Albans School

Located in the heart of Washington, St. Albans School is an all-boys day and boarding school for students in elementary, middle and high school. Almost 75% of faculty hold advanced degrees, and their list of alumni includes famous names like John Kerry and Al Gore.

Perhaps the most prestigious program at St. Albans is their School of Public Service. Students have notably visited with the Supreme Court, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the White House Chief of Staff. St. Albans also maintains robust athletic and summer programs.

Holton-Arms School

Founded in 1901, the Holton-Arms School is an all-girls institution in Bethesda, Maryland. Students from third to twelfth grade participate in dynamic programs designed to foster future female leaders and innovators. This school is also responsible for educating the likes of First Lady Jackie Kennedy and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfuss.

The average class at Holton-Arms has a mere 15 students, and over 81% of faculty members hold advanced degrees. Additionally, the campus features more than eight buildings, two libraries, and multiple facilities dedicated to the arts.

British International School of Washington

The British International School is part of an esteemed network of institutions that offer an all-encompassing, globally focused curriculum crafted by Nord Anglia. Students from pre-kindergarten to high school enjoy everything from an on-site café to one-on-one college and career counseling.

Perhaps the biggest draw to the British International School is its emphasis on diversity and globalism. The school’s student body represents over 60 nationalities, and students can begin learning a second language in pre-kindergarten.