A public-private partnership in education: In June 2001,The New York City Board of Education and Bard College jointly created Bard High School Early College (BHSEC). This alternative to the traditional high school is founded on the belief that young adults' ambition to learn must be taken seriously and that offering them the opportunity to study a rich liberal arts college curriculum while in high school can begin to engage their full intellectual potential. The BHSEC academic program enables highly motivated students to move in four years from ninth grade through the first two years of college, earning the associate in arts (A.A.) degree from Bard College as well as a New York State Regents high school diploma.
Since the mid-1960s, Bard College at Simon's Rock, the nation's only four-year college specifically designed for younger scholars, has provided such students the opportunity to prove themselves in a rigorous and supportive learning environment. Bard College, with the support of the New York City Department of Education, has adapted this model to the urban public school setting.
BHSEC graduated its first class of students earning an A.A. degree in 2003: these students had all transferred to BHSEC as Year 1 college s tudents (high school juniors) in BHSEC's inaugural year. The first group of ninth graders to complete all four years of the program graduated in 2005.
By 2007, 3,500 students had applied for a place in the 150 person ninth grade class at BHSEC Manhattan. In response to the rising demand, and in order to make the opportunity of a BHSEC education more easily accessible to students from Queens, The Bronx, and Upper Manhattan, BHSEC Queens opened in 2008 with a ninth grade class and a Year 1 college class. The school moved to its permanent home at 30-20 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City in September 2009. In June 2010, BHSEC Queens celebrated its first graduating class and BHSEC Manhattan gradyated uts eughth class of young scholars.