International Studies Program

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international studies program

Friends Select is committed to graduating students who are deeply curious about and engaged with the world and its diversity. Located at the heart of Philadelphia, we are positioned to offer a robust global curriculum grounded in our Quaker mission to educate students for “the whole of life.” Partnering with institutions locally and abroad, Friends Select’s international programming reaches beyond the walls of every classroom to enrich students’ experiences and fortify global competency in each of our graduates.


Friends Select's urban location in an international city, robust financial aid program, and commitment to the philosophy and values of the Society of Friends, have resulted in an inclusive community whose ethnic, cultural and economic diversity is atypical of most independent schools. Friends Select graduates are college-ready, city-savvy, intellectually and culturally sophisticated, and globally literate. Friends Select appointed its first director of international studies in 2007.

Academic Program

International Students at Friends Select School

In any given year, five percent or more of students are international students, and this number is growing. In the past decade, Friends Select has been home to students from Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Latvia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, U.K., Ukraine and Vietnam.

English Language Learners

ELL is a mandatory course for international students in middle- and upper school who have yet to master reading, writing, listening and speaking in English. Classes are small and structured to give ELL instruction, refine academic reading and writing skills, and support students' ongoing work in their core classes. Lower school language support centers around acquisition of basic emergent skills.

World Languages

Beginning in PK, Friends Select offers language instruction in either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese; at the middle- and upper school levels, students may elect to continue in Spanish, or choose Latin or Mandarin Chinese. Italian I and Arabic I are often offered as electives in upper school.

Student Exchanges and Travel Abroad

Friends Select continually explores student exchange and study travel abroad opportunities that link to current curriculum. Recent programs have included an upper school eco-service tour of Costa Rica, language and art study trips to Italy, cultural trips to Nepal and Cuba, and service trips to Guatemala. Each year upper school students have several international travel opportunities available to them.


Universities, Museums, Agencies, Performing Artists

Through the InterSession Program, Friends Select partners each year with experts from local and national universities, museums, corporations, agencies, cultural institutions, performing artists, filmmakers and others to engage the school community in study of a particular country or region of the world. Partners have included University of Pennsylvania, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Bechtel Corporation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Haverford College, Temple, Rutgers, Villanova and Delaware Universities, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Penn Museum, University of Nebraska, HIAS, Boat People SOS, Modero Dance Company, Alex Shaw Brazilian Percussion Ensemble, and Philadelphia Folklore Project, Kulu Mele, The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel, PAFA, and many others.

InterSession Program

  • InterSession-What is It?
  • InterSession 2011: the Middle East
  • InterSession 2012: Central and South America
  • InterSession 2013: Southeast Asia
  • InterSession 2014: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • InterSession 2015: South Asia
  • InterSession 2016: Cuba