2017 Best Private and Independent Schools in San Diego

San Diego's top private schools are ready and eager

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Listed Below Made The Best Private Schools List In 2013

[Updated] In San Diego County, a variety of schools present families with the opportunity to find pedagogy that forms to the needs and internal desires of their children. The following eight private and independent schools present diverse options to help students reach their personal best.


7. Horizon Prep In Rancho Santa Fe 

Preschool – Grade 10
6233 El Apajo Road
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Information from 2013 - Formerly offering preschool through eighth grade, Horizon Prep is offering high school grades 9 and 10 starting fall 2013, with plans to expand to include grades 11 in 2014 and 12 in 2015. The graduating class of 2016 will be the first to cross the stage at Horizon Prep.


For preschool, tuition costs $4,050 to $8,820 annually, while pre-kindergarten falls between $6,318 and $8,820, depending on the number of days enrolled. Tuition starts at $12,300 for kindergarten through fifth grade, and increases to $17,520 for high school.

6. The Grauer School

Grades 6 – 12
1500 S. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024

Information from 2013 - The “small schools” movement in the United States creates the opportunity for individualized attention for students to expand their educational opportunities. The Grauer School has established itself as leader, accepting a select 150 students for class sizes capping at about 12. This college preparatory school extends beyond the classroom to support students as they discover their life purposes. Through a humanitarian environment, leadership opportunities and education expeditions, The Grauer School upholds the vision that “graduates will become humanitarian, ethical and exemplary leaders.”

“I wanted the whole world to be my campus… here we use an expeditionary approach.” - Dr. Stuart Grauer

Founder and visionary Dr. Stuart Grauer is a world traveler, a passionate educator and articulate expert on the matter of independent education. “I wanted the whole world to be my campus…here we use an expeditionary approach,” he explained. “Human beings are naturally curious. The Grauer School is constantly seeking spaces in and out of classroom, with individual students to provide opportunities so kids can exercise that natural curiosity and we balance that with our requirements for college preparatory.”

Grades 6 through 12 have a variety of options for enrollment as 160 courses are offered at The Grauer School. In the classroom, the student-teacher ratio is low at about 7 to 1. For those requiring more interaction on a personal level, several student support programs are available through The Grauer School mentoring. The 3 – 5 Homework Program sets aside two hours Monday through Thursday for students to have hands-on interaction and answer coursework questions. One-on-one classes, where a faculty member teaches a student individually, take this a step further. A third option is educational mentoring that is available to students who want educational and organizational assistance, as well as the option for private mentoring. Only full-time students have this option available with limited enrollment. This program is set up to work on social, homework and tutoring matters.

This school year’s tuition is estimated to range from $22,000 to $23,500, with an annual enrollment fee of $1,700 to $2,200. This includes most field trips, comprehensive college placement counseling and academic, athletic and arts programming, as well as the Expeditionary Learning program.

Every student at The Grauer School steps out of the classroom for these twice annual, week long expeditions, one in the fall and one in the spring or winter. Activities include a range from hiking, backpacking and climbing to humanitarian work like building homes. At the essence of it, students are learning to communicate with nature, volunteer and team build. Through these excursions, students broaden their education experiences in the arts, culture and geography, as well as physical and social challenges, community service, and student reflection. The expeditions also provide another method to practice resourcefulness, compassion and humanitarian service, which are all a part of the Grauer Philosophy. On average, by graduation, students will have completed well more than 50 hours of community service and typically eight weeks of expeditions. Through its range of educational offerings to students in and out of the classroom, The Grauer School holds true to its credo: “Our students mean the world to us.”

5. Santa Fe Christian Schools

Kindergarten – Grade 12
838 Academy Drive
Solana Beach, CA 92075

Information from 2013 - “Open Hearts, Open Doors” symbolizes the promise of Santa Fe Christian Schools. It commits to honor students and their families while they are enrolled and in the time following.

This also embraces the culture and passion as it aims to expand minds, build faith and enrich lives. The Solana Beach campus consists of three schools: Lower (kindergarten through grade 5), middle (grades 6 to 8) and upper (grades 9 to 12). Each year, the middle and upper school students select a theme and scripture verse for the lower school to adopt. Small class sizes of about 20 ensure individual opportunities for success.

In 2013, 87 percent of seniors received college merit scholarships. Santa Fe Christian also offers a preschool in Encinitas.

4. Maranatha Christian Schools

Preschool – Grade 12
9050 Maranatha Drive
San Diego, CA 92127

Maranatha Christian Schools help students build the fundamentals for lifelong achievement. Students are encouraged to grow in multiple areas, including sports, arts and academics.

Small class sizes, enrichment programs and technology integration support students from preschool to grade 12 and build the school’s core values: faith, honor and diligence. The school started a private school satellite program for homeschooled students this year. This flexible program works with families and provides athletes an opportunity to meet NCAA and CIF eligibility requirements through its sports programs. Non-athletes are also welcome to enroll on campus for classes if desired. Tuition starts at $7,908 for kindergarten through fifth grade, and goes up to $9,689 for high school.

3. La Jolla Country Day School

Age 3 – Grade 12
9490 Genesee Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Information from 2013 -  Fostering scholars, artists and athletes, La Jolla Country Day School maintains its moral and ethical tone with its Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Students in the lower school (Tiny Torreys through grade 4), middle school (grades 5 to 8) and upper school (grades 9 to 12) participate in small size classes for individualized attention.

About 70 percent of the teachers have postgraduate degrees with an average tenure of 15 years. The curriculum emphasizes global engagement and understanding, and the World Language Program.

Tuition for Tiny Torreys starts at $13,520 and $14,400 for junior kindergarten, while kindergarten through grade 12 ranges from $24,830 to $28,650.

2. The Bishop’s School

Grades 6-12
7607 La Jolla Blvd.
La Jolla, CA 92037

[Updated October 2017] Since 1909, students have been welcomed to The Bishop’s School community through its annual matriculation ceremony. With a 9-to-1 student-teacher ratio, the upper and middle schools focus on academic stimulation paired with moral and ethical responsibilities.

The middle school serves as a three-year transition between elementary and the upper school. These students learn thematic approaches to coursework to prepare them for high school.

In the upper school, students enter a range of studies to prepare them for college and their life goals. Tuition for the 2017-2018 school year it is $35,150. The Bishop’s School awards about 20 percent of its students about $3 million annually in financial aid.

1. Francis Parker School

Junior Kindergarten – Grade 5
4201 Randolph St.
San Diego, CA, 92103

Grades 6 – 12
6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA, 92111

Information from 2013 - As San Diego’s oldest independent, non-denominational, coeducational day school, Francis Parker School presents a successful history of educating students since 1912. The student-faculty ratio is 10-to-1 for the more than 1,230 students in the lower, middle and upper schools on two campuses.

For junior kindergarten, tuition costs $18,000 and goes up to $27,300 for grade 12. One step Francis Parker School takes to prepare its students for the technologically advancing world is through its iPad Initiative; this school year is the first students in grades 6 – 9 will be required to use iPads to replace some course textbooks with e-books.

In a few years, grades 10 – 12 will also participate in this 1-to-1 computing environment.