Our School

Bard Early College (BEC) seeks to improve the transition from high school to college and increase access and success in higher education. We do this by offering high school-age students, particularly those from low-income and historically underrepresented communities, a tuition-free college program of study in the liberal arts and sciences, and by working to influence and lead a national movement for early college education focused on quality and equity.

As a campus of BEC, Bard High School Early College Cleveland (BHSEC Cleveland) is a tuition-free satellite campus of Bard College, a nonprofit liberal arts college based in Annandale, NY, defined by academic quality, innovation, and its public service commitment. BHSEC Cleveland seeks to inspire curiosity, a love of learning, and civic engagement in its students; equip and empower students to access and complete higher education; and prepare its graduates for a range of educational, professional, and civic pathways. BHSEC Cleveland was established in 2014 as the first freestanding early college high school in Cleveland and is operated through a partnership between Bard College and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

This alternative to the traditional high school is founded on the belief that many young people are ready and eager to do serious college work at an earlier age. Based on the premise that these young adults’ ambition to learn should be taken seriously, BHSEC’s four-year academic program enables students to earn a high school diploma and a tuition-free Bard College associate in arts degree and 60 transferable college credit, alongside a high school diploma, at no cost to students or their families. True to Bard’s motto, A Place to Think, BHSEC Cleveland’s academic program emphasizes thinking through writing, discussion, and inquiry.

Our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Student writing at desk

Core Components of Our Model

  • Free college program up to an associate’s degree and 60+ credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs across the country.
  • College instructors, typically with a terminal degree in the content area and trained in early college pedagogy and Bard Writing and Thinking practices, teaching all grade levels (high school and college courses).
  • A robust and engaging liberal arts and sciences curriculum developed by Bard.
  • Small, writing- and discussion-based seminar classes.
  • Strong academic and socio-emotional student supports.
  • Qualitative admissions process that selects students based on their motivation to participate and intellectual curiosity through an interview and faculty-designed assessment.
  • Student empowerment in the classroom and school community.
  • Diversity in the student body, reflecting the local region.
  • Partnership with public schools and school systems that make the programs possible.


of the Class of 2020 graduated from High School



of the Class of 2020 received their associate’s degrees



graduates received an average of 54 college credits

*Students who did not attain an associate’s degree still earned an average of 37 college credits.

Translate »