What is Milton Hershey School?
Milton Hershey School is among the best private schools in the nation, offering individualized attention, small class sizes and top-notch academic programs to children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from income-eligible families.
All programs, activities, supplies and medical care are provided at no charge to students.
Milton Hershey School students live on campus in a student home during the school year. Students live with houseparents and between 8-12 students of the same age group and gender. Education in the Judeo-Christian faith, the heritage of the School’s founders, is part of the MHS program and includes daily devotions and Sunday chapel services.
During breaks and summer vacation, students have the option to return home or remain on campus for our Year Round Experiences program.
What is the academic program offered at MHS?
MHS offers a rigorous academic program, preparing students for college and career. The school tailors its curriculum to students’ needs during each developmental stage so they receive an age-appropriate education. Students receive support, guidance and educational assistance from highly-qualified teachers.
Educational programs consist of the following divisions:
- Elementary Division – pre-kindergarten through grade 4
- Middle Division – grades 5-8
- Senior Division – grades 9-12
Throughout each division, the programs provide students with education and life skills, as well as extracurricular activities. As they grow, MHS students develop competencies in core academic areas, problem-solving, relationship building and life skills – all while testing their areas of strength and challenge. Students are encouraged to find and refine their unique talents in a safe and nurturing environment.
As early as fourth grade, students are introduced to our renowned Career and Technical Education program. The award-winning program pushes our students to explore career options and then accelerates their growth in high school by giving them tailor-made instruction with the ability to work in their chosen career path.
Our after-school programs support classroom learning and provide another opportunity for students to apply classroom theory.
In the student home, students have access to computers and homework support. MHS students commit more time to homework than the national average. MHS students perform exceptionally well on state tests and more than 90 percent pursue further education after graduation.
The school also offers educational and fun programs for students who choose to remain on campus during breaks and holidays. The campus is open 365 days per year, and there are programs and activities ongoing throughout the year.
What is life like in a student home?
Our student homes are specially designed to create a family-like atmosphere for students, while encouraging them to remain close with their own families. The campus has more than 160 student homes in which eight to 12 students of the same gender and age group live and learn under the guidance of houseparents. An example of a student schedule is included below.
Houseparents are married couples with childcare experience employed full time by the school. They serve as mentors, providing support, guidance and academic assistance as they teach skills that will make students successful in life.
Each student home is equipped with a computer room, recreation area and family room, along with sprawling outdoor space and playground equipment for Elementary Division students.
Students are expected to participate in daily chores such as doing laundry, vacuuming, making their beds, setting the table, and other tasks that help build a sense of responsibility and self-esteem.
“Screen time” that is not related to homework is limited each day and physical activity, fellowship and hobbies are encouraged.
Most students walk to and from school, weather permitting.
How often can I visit my child?
Parents and sponsors are an important part of ensuring student success at MHS. They are encouraged to stay in touch with their children and work with the houseparents through regular phone calls, emails and visits to campus.
The school offers several long vacation breaks throughout the year, and students may visit home up to five weekends per year. MHS also hosts several special family weekends and events throughout the year.
Our Student Visitation Reference Guide outlines in detail our visitation policy.
What makes MHS unique?
We are unlike any other public or private school in the nation, and our program is completely free. MHS recognizes the importance of educating the whole child, and we encourage students to explore their academic, social, physical, emotional and spiritual potential. We also provide individualized attention and educational support.
We understand that an enriching educational experience must have programs that complement academic learning. MHS encourages students to be exceptional through programs that support:
- Hands-on learning provides a deeper understanding and better retention of classroom lessons. A combination of academic and life experiences prepare students for a positive future. Students in Senior Division also have access to internships, award-winning educational programs including Career and Technical Education, as well as independent living experiences for seniors.
- Character and leadership is a cornerstone of the curriculum at Milton Hershey School. Our nationally-recognized Student Character and Leadership curriculum helps students grow into influential leaders by focusing on social, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Opportunities to participate in Student Government Association, Chapel Services and many athletic and extracurricular activities further prepare students for a brighter future.
- Wellness programs empower students to take an active interest in their own health as they learn to make wise eating choices and enjoy an active lifestyle. The school also provides free quality health care, including dental and social work services.
Along with these excellent programs, MHS also offers students a unique experience through its partnership with The Hershey Company, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Students have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned business executives in the classroom and through special internship programs.
What else does MHS have?
- Four swimming pools
- An ice-hockey rink
- An equestrian program
- A working farm program
- A full television studio
- Free access to Hersheypark for students
- Visual and performing arts programs
Who is eligible to attend?
Children considered for admission must meet the following criteria:
- Come from a family of lower income.
- Be from the ages of 4-15 years old at the time of enrollment.
- Have the ability to learn.
- Be free of serious behavioral problems that would disrupt life in the classroom or the student home.
- Be able to participate and benefit from the school’s program.
Each year, Milton Hershey School receives far more applications from individuals who meet the minimum qualifications for admission than the School can accept. Learn more about the minimum eligibility criteria and the factors that may affect which applicants are selected for interview and admission.
To be eligible for enrollment, a child must come from a family of lower income, and not be receiving adequate care from one or both of his/her parents. Nearly 2,000 students are currently enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Students come predominantly from Pennsylvania (78 percent) and the mid-Atlantic region, and represent more than 34 states in the U.S. Approximately 43 percent of the students have siblings who also attend MHS.
See Milton Hershey School’s full Equal Opportunity Policy.
How much does it cost?
Admission to Milton Hershey School is totally free to families who qualify for enrollment. Included with the free admission for students are housing, healthy meals and snacks, all extracurricular activities and equipment, clothing, school supplies, medical and dental care, and much more.
How is the school funded?
The school is funded by a trust established by founders Milton and Catherine Hershey in 1909 to provide for the health, education and welfare of the children at the school.
Mr. Hershey appointed the Hershey Trust Company as the school’s trustee to provide investment management and administration. The school always has been and continues to be funded through this trust fund.
What is the Deed of Trust?
The school’s Deed of Trust is the legal document signed by Milton and Catherine Hershey in 1909 to establish the school. This Deed of Trust still guides the school today. Amended twice by the Dauphin County Orphans Court to admit girls and minorities into the school, the Deed of Trust includes guidelines for management oversight, spending, admissions and school programs.
How do I find out more about Milton Hershey School?
For information about enrollment, visit the Admissions page or call (800) 322-3248.
For employment, visit our Careers page.
Watch Amazing Opportunities to hear from graduates on how Milton Hershey School changed their lives.