Phillips Exeter Academy was founded in 1781 by Dr. John Phillips, a graduate of Harvard and resident of Exeter. Exeter continues to affirm the intent of John Phillips to link goodness with knowledge, developing the consciences and training the minds of students so that they may usefully serve society.


A gift from philanthropist Edward S. Harkness in 1930 established a method of teaching unique to Exeter and central to its teaching philosophy. The Harkness plan calls for an oval table in each classroom, with class size averaging 12 students and ample opportunity for dialogue. See videos about The Harkness Story...

Exeter Symbols

The Phillips Exeter Academy seal – In 1782, Paul Revere "cut" a seal for the Trustees of Phillips Academy, Andover. The Phillips Exeter Academy seal, presented to the Trustees in 1784 and used by the Academy until 1952, is an adaptation of the Andover seal.

The Phillips Exeter Academy lion – The Exeter lion was taken from a bookplate designed for John Phillips in 1775 by Nathaniel Hurd, a famous seal-cutter and die-engraver in Boston. The Phillips Family crest is prominently figured in the plate. At some point, the name of John Phillips was removed from the plate and the inscription was changed to reflect the Phillips Exeter Academy.

Learn more about Exeter's history…