Welcome International Students! Welcome to Our Private Boarding School in Texas

San Marcos Academy is one of the few Texas private boarding schools that actively seeks international students in grades 6-12 to live in our campus Residence Hall. In any given year, our international students represent as many as 12 different countries. The presence of these exceptional young men and women enhances the diversity of our student body and nurtures in all of our students a better appreciation of different cultures, traditions, and histories.

Ease of Access

As a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) certified school, our international students can come to the Academy to study on an F-1 visa. We provide English as a Second Language support through immersion in the core classes and individualized assistance as needed.


In the dormitory setting, our international students have the opportunity to improve and refine their ability to read, speak, and comprehend English at a level necessary for success should they continue their college education in the United States. The majority of our international student graduates do continue their education in this country and are accepted to major universities throughout the United States.

No Tests Required

San Marcos Academy does not require a language proficiency test or any other admissions test for international students. The Admissions Office may request a Skype interview as part of the admissions process in order to evaluate the student’s level of proficiency in conversational English.

2023-2024 Program Costs

Request Admissions Information

Guide to Studying in the States

2023-2024 School Calendar

Online Application Portal

Senior College Acceptances

A Strong Academic Foundation

We believe our program provides a strong academic foundation for students from other countries, offering them an excellent Western educational experience that will pave the way for their future educational endeavors. Upper School students prepare for college-level work through a rigorous Christ-centered curriculum. SMA students follow the Texas state-mandated course requirements to graduate and/or obtain one or more endorsements in areas such as Arts and Humanities, STEM, Multidisciplinary Studies, Public Service, and within the next two years, Business and Industry.

College matriculations for international students have included renowned institutions such as Penn State University, Boston University, Michigan State University, the University of Texas, and many others.

With our small classes we can really help students learn to communicate, work through problems or experiments, and be leaders in their classrooms.

—Sherry Christensen, a proud parent to two SMA graduates and a Middle School science and math teacher at the Academy.

Support for Success

The Counseling and Guidance Program at SMA also contributes to student success. Guidance counselor Teri Nash works with families regarding college selection, applications, essays, resumes, recommendation letters, tours of Texas colleges and universities, and standardized testing. Students are welcome to visit her office at any time to seek advice or get their hands on any kinds of materials needed to help design their paths.

Students come to SMA from all walks of life with their successes and struggles in tow. SMA staff and faculty celebrate their success and allow the students to see past the struggles to new successes. This allows them to discover a nurturing and caring atmosphere in which to learn.”

—Guidance Counselor Teri Nash

An Emphasis on Well-Being

International families should know that, as one of the leading Christian schools in Texas, San Marcos Academy places the highest priority on the safety and well-being for all students. We have a Student Resource Officer and other safety officers on our campus to provide support, protection, and training in safety procedures. Our campus has an access gate that is monitored by a safety officer, who requires identification for all who enter the campus. SMA cooperates fully with law enforcement officials in the city, county, and state to provide high-quality training for our staff and faculty. We implement and offer training for students through routine safety drills and procedures throughout the year. We are happy to provide any other information and answer any other questions families may have about our campus safety program.

We help students to become personally responsible individuals with a value and regard for those around them. This helps them become interdependent self-managers, concerned not only with how they can improve themselves, but also with how they can inspire others to become better citizens.

—James Portis, SMA Faculty and Parent

A Connected Community

While at San Marcos Academy, students are surrounded by teachers and staff who really love what they do, no matter how overwhelmingly busy it can be. “It is very much a family atmosphere,” explained Toby Wade, who teaches Economics, AP Macroeconomics, and Dual College-Credit Government, as well as serving as Athletic Director and coach for football and baseball. Colleague Vickie Boyer agrees.

Those who reside on campus enjoy 24/7 engagement, with schedules filled to the brim with exciting activities and mentally-stimulating academic experiences. Athletics play a pivotal role in student development as all SMA students are encouraged to get involved in sports to build values in sportsmanship, integrity, and character. The Student Recreation Organization also hosts weekly and monthly events such as board games, karaoke, card games, arts and crafts, holiday-themed festivities and much more. SMA also offers a unique opportunity for international students to join the LEO Club, offering them at path to become members of the Lions Club International as adults in their home countries.

It is a fun, loving environment that is always exciting. I enjoy coming to work in the mornings, when I have an opportunity to talk with my senior advisory group about sports and their other activities and encourage them to have an amazing day. Then after school, we have an opportunity to attend their sporting events and cheer our Bears and Lady Bears on to victory!

—Vickie Boyer, World History and English teacher at SMA

Read about us at Study International!

At San Marcos Academy, a well-rounded student experience, a connected community, and a suite of opportunities are ready and waiting. Convinced?

icon of a question mark

Program FAQ

San Marcos Academy has a rolling enrollment process which means our Admissions staff will review every application regardless of the time it was submitted. Prospective international students should consider the amount of time it takes to acquire the proper student Visa when applying and are encouraged to start the process as early as possible.

No, international students, defined as students studying on an F-1 visa (those who are not U.S. citizens, do not hold a U.S. passport and are not permanent residents of the U.S.) must live on campus in the residential boarding program as they participate in the in-person learning in San Marcos that we provide. Students are not permitted to live with relatives or family friends, but they may be checked out of the dormitory (by adults previously approved by the parents) on weekends or on other occasions during the week.

Yes, San Marcos Academy is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to issue the I-20 visa application. In order to receive the I-20 visa application, a student must (1) submit a completed application for admission (2) be accepted to the Academy (3) submit a tuition deposit ($7,000 for the 2021-22 school year) and (4) provide proof of financial support (ability to pay the total tuition).

After these steps have been completed, we will issue and mail the I-20 to the student’s home address. If the student is denied a visa, the family may request a refund of the tuition deposit, minus a $500 fee.

SMA can also assist students who need to transfer a valid student record from another school.

Our base tuition for an international student at the Academy (2022-23 school year) is $49,811. In addition to this base cost, a new international student will be charged a $3,500 new student enrollment fee. The cost of health insurance, if needed, will be added to the student’s account at the cost of approximately $2,500. Students will also need spending money during the year, provided by the family, usually through a debit or credit card. Other required fees are the Bear Network Family Fee of $25 (per year), the Blackbaud Tuition Management fee of $50, and the Campus Safety Family Fee of $100 (per year). Seniors will be charged a graduation fee of $200.

Those who submit an application to SMA will be asked to pay a non-refundable $150 application fee. International applicants who are accepted will be charged a tuition deposit ($7,000 for the 2022-23 school year) in order to be issued a form I-20. If the applicant receives a visa, this deposit will be applied to the student’s account. If the applicant does not receive a visa, the family may request a refund of the deposit, minus $500.

English language proficiency test scores are not required for ESL or ELL students. However, if an applicant has taken an English proficiency test, we encourage him or her to submit the score (or scores) for class placement purposes. All students will be considered regardless of their test score. The admissions office reserves the right to request a Skype interview to help us evaluate a student’s level of proficiency in conversational English prior to acceptance.

In order to properly transfer credit for the applicant’s previous school(s), official transcripts including school name and seal are required. Transcripts must be translated into English.

San Marcos Academy provides health insurance that covers the required immunizations as well as sickness and accidents for all international students. The fee for the  health insurance will be automatically billed to the student’s account. The policy will be in effect from the first day of school (or first day of arrival on campus) until the last day of school. To opt out of the Academy’s health insurance, a student must provide proof of current insurance. Current insurance must be based in the United States to be considered valid.

Our Admissions Office receives applications and documents from all over the world. It is important that any application, transcript, recommendation or document be translated into English before sending to our office.

The Residence Hall at San Marcos Academy is open throughout the school year with three exceptions: (1) the week of Thanksgiving break (2) the three-week Christmas and New Year break and (3) Spring Break. These dates are noted on our 2021-22 school calendar. Parents are encouraged to plan ahead and make arrangements for their students during these times when the Residence Hall is closed. Parents are also expected to provide travel plans for their students, so that staff can coordinate getting students to and from the airport. Travel plans should be provided to the dormitory directors as early as possible.

SMA will help parents arrange a home stay for their students during Thanksgiving Break or Spring Break if needed (a daily fee will be charged) when the dormitories are closed. Parents should request home stays as early as possible.

At San Marcos Academy
All students at SMA must acquire the credits necessary for graduation as listed by the Texas Education Agency. International students will receive English as a Second Language support through English immersion in the core classes with ELL assistance as needed on an individual basis. SMA does have an ESL specialist on staff.

Preview Our Residence Hall

SMA Dormitory Room
Dormitory Room for our SMA Texas private school boarding students.
Student on a bunk bed in a dorm
Students enjoying a break from in-person learning in San Marcos by playing some video games.
SMA Dormitory Room