International Program

The St. Margaret’s International Program began in 1990 and has been running since with a full-time director, an ESL program with both intensive English study and mainstream class support, and a variety of events that celebrate our students’ cultures. Half of our faculty and staff have studied abroad and nearly all have experience traveling in other countries. The global perspective of our domestic students is enriched through our Queen Margaret of Scotland Girls' School partnerships in Australia, Chile, and New Zealand.

Approximately 30% of St. Margaret’s students are international, having represented 45 different countries since the program began. At SMS, students have the opportunity to strengthen their English skills, take challenging academic courses, and immerse themselves in extracurricular activities like sports, leadership, and clubs. They also enjoy weekend trips to museums, festivals, amusement parks, and fellow independent schools.

On our own campus, St. Margaret’s students are uniquely situated in a cultural, ecological, and historical hub. There are many enrichment opportunities in the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Hampton Roads, each within a two-hour drive of the school. Students learn about the ecological and historical importance of the Rappahannock, one of the country’s cleanest rivers, in the River Program. Finally, historic campus buildings and nearby historical sites make the SMS experience a true living history for anyone studying in the United States.

Our campus is rich in history, and our students are bright, young women from all over the world who want to not only better themselves but also to make a better world.

International Festival

Our annual International Festival is part of the St. Margaret's global enrichment experience where we celebrate cultures, traditions, history, cuisine, and much more.


New international students arrive to campus early to allow for a period of adjustment and acclimation to their new environment at St. Margaret's. During this time, students take English and math placement tests then meet with the Academic Dean to choose their course schedules. The first Culture Shock Workshop is held during orientation. Culture Shock Workshops are a combination of talks, discussions, activities, and reflections that help international students adjust academically, emotionally, and socially. Workshops are designed and led by student leaders and international program staff.

English as a Second Language (ESL) and
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Students demonstrate their ability to read, write, and speak English in a standardized diagnostic test that is designed to place each pupil at the appropriate level of ESL or into mainstream academic classes. Our program serves ESL students by offering intensive courses covering reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar, US culture, history, and science. Advanced students enroll in the top-level of ESL to support their other mainstream classes. Read more about our ESL courses. We also offer a TOEFL test preparation course as well as individual tutoring sessions with an experienced instructor.

School Breaks

Residence halls close for the following school breaks: Thanksgiving vacation, Christmas vacation, and Spring Break. Our homestay partnership with eNKouraged Homestays allows students to spend holiday breaks in a relaxed environment with adult supervision and a flexible schedule.

Global Enrichment

The entire school community celebrates our diversity through global enrichment events and experiences. Together, we are educated about the history, cuisine, spiritual beliefs, and cultures of our international students' home countries.

One-Year Students

St. Margaret's is a great educational option for students looking to enroll for one or more years at any grade level. We also welcome students who would like to enroll during the school year.

I've never had so much fun and met so many amazing people. Living in another country was a unique experience,
and I would repeat it again and again. Last year was the best year of my life!
- Ana Garcia, one-year international student at St. Margaret's

Admission on the Road

The Office of Admission travels internationally and would love to meet prospective students and their families in their home countries. Please contact them at to see if they are visiting your part of the world.