American College of Sofia

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Coordinates: 42°37′54″N 23°21′59″E / 42.63167°N 23.36639°E / 42.63167; 23.36639

American College of Sofia
Американски колеж в София
Ostrander Hall
One of the seven academic buildings on campus
Floyd Black lane,
Mladost 2, Sofia

Type Independent, Day and Boarding
Established 1860
Head Richard T. Ewing, Jr.
Number of students c. 700
Campus 53 acres/21 ha
Colour(s) Indigo     
Accreditation MSACS, IBO
Publication College Life, ACS Newsletter, ACS Alumni Magazine

The American College of Sofia (Bulgarian: Американски колеж в София, Amerikanski kolezh v Sofiya; abbreviated as ACS) is among the top and most prestigious secondary schools in Bulgaria and the Balkans, based in the capital city of Sofia.

The college, founded in 1860, is regarded as the oldest American educational institution outside the United States.[1] American pedagogical methods are used and the primary language of instruction is English.

The American College of Sofia is considered to be the best high school in Bulgaria[citation needed]. The graduating classes of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013[2] and 2014[3] achieved the highest average grade on the Bulgarian matriculation exams and the mean scores on SAT and AP examinations are far beyond the average. Students from the college have won numerous awards in various fields of science at national and international level alike. Graduates of ACS pursue higher education in some of the world's most prestigious universities such as Ivy League universities, Russell Group universities and other top institutions.


Founded in 1860 in the then-Ottoman Empire, it was initially a boys' school in Plovdiv established by American missionaries of the Congregational Church.[4] By co-operating with a girls' school in Stara Zagora founded by the same people, the American College was established and moved to Samokov in 1871. The teachers were mostly Americans and many of the school's Bulgarian students went on to become ministers and important social figures.

One of the Faculty Houses

As the Mission Boards decided to close the schools at Samokov and leave Bulgaria, a decision met with protests and discontent among Bulgarian alumni and American donors alike,[4] the schools were transferred to another organization, Sofia American Schools, Inc., merged and moved to Sofia in 1926. The construction of a campus in Simeonovo began the same year to start accommodating 119 girls in 1928, 63 boys in 1929, as well as the remaining 130 a year later.

With Bulgaria initially being on the side of the Axis Powers during World War II, many of the teachers left and only a handful had remained when Bulgaria declared war on the United States in December 1941. They continued to operate the college until ousted by the pro-Axis authorities in the autumn of 1942.[4] As the war ended and Bulgaria became a communist state, the American College's entire property was confiscated in 1947 and the campus was used as the office of the Bulgarian State Police during the times of socialism.[4]

The college was reopened in September 1992, enrolling 50 boys and 50 girls from over 3,000 that signed up to take the specified test. Much of the old campus and many of the pre-World War II American College buildings have since then been given back to the college, yet parts of the campus are still occupied by the Police Academy. As of 2005, the American College of Sofia has 606 Bulgarian and 33 foreign students and has enrolled over a thousand, with 848 graduating. Since June 2005, the college also offers the IB Diploma Programme, only for the international students.[5] The former president of the American College of Sofia is Thomas Cangiano, former Cleve Housemaster and History Master at the Lawrenceville School. The current president is Dr. Paul Johnson, hailing from Bismarck, North Dakota, USA. The first class of the reopened school celebrated their 10-year reunion in June 2007.


  1. ^ This title is also claimed by Robert College, founded in 1863, due to the name and constitutional changes in the American College of Sofia's history.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d American College of Sofia website. History subpage. Visited 29 April 2006.
  5. ^ International Baccalaureate Organization. American College of Sofia. Visited 29 April 2006.

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