Bard High School Early College DC’s academic objective is to provide an intellectually challenging and inspiring academic program for students and enable them to take a full-time college course of study in place of the 11th and 12th grades, free of charge. The Bard DC program provides a seamless transition for students from middle school to high school to college and results in college readiness and the opportunity for students to complete 60 transferable college credits and an associate in arts degree from Bard College, while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements of DC Public Schools for a high school diploma.

At Bard DC our students gain:

  • An understanding of the scientific method – its approaches to inquiry, its strengths and limitations as a mode of analysis, and a basic comprehension of the fundamental laws governing both physical phenomena and human behavior;
  • An appreciation of several forms of artistic and literary expression, the creative process, and the disciplined use of imagination, formal structure, and aesthetic values;
  • A flexibility of thought that allows for creative problem solving through an integration of quantitative and qualitative techniques;
  • Knowledge of some of the most influential works of Western culture and critical understanding of the values, assumptions, ideologies that they express;
  • Knowledge and appreciation of modes of thought of other cultures – including non-Western cultures, and groups or societies that exist as distinct subcultures within Western culture; 
  • A sense of history – ideas, movements, peoples, and events of the past – and an understanding of how our view of the past is shaped, and shapes our understanding of the present and future; and
  • Sensitivity to the moral and ethical dimensions of thought and action, and developing the ability to make informed moral and ethical decisions. 

Year 2 students Lodon Haynie and Zamaya Givons, are recipients of the National African American Recognition Award from the College Board. Students selected for this award have maintained a 3.5 or higher GPA, and scored in the top 10% on the PSAT.

In the high school program (9th and 10th grades) in our four-year early college campuses, a more structured, high school curriculum helps students ease into college coursework. High school classes are taught by the same college faculty that teach in the college program, and classwork incorporates similar critical reading, writing, and thinking techniques. Alongside a robust network of academic support resources, the high school classes help students more adequately prepare for the demands of their rigorous college classes in the last two years.

In the college program – in ”Year One and Year Two,” in place of the 11th and 12th grades – students take a college course of study in the liberal arts and sciences. Classes are taught by college faculty who are active and accomplished in their fields. Classes are inquiry- and discussion-based, encouraging active engagement with professors and peers. All students in the college program take a two-year interdisciplinary seminar sequence, one class a semester. Through critical reading and interpretation, students engage with seminal texts from antiquity to modernity across the humanities.  

Requirements for the Associate in Arts Degree

In order to receive the Bard associate of arts degree, students must earn 60 college credits with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 during the two years in the college program; they must also fulfill the following distribution requirements and complete all high school diploma requirements:

A core component of our academic model is Bard Writing and Thinking pedagogy, designed by the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking. Every fall semester at Bard Early College begins with The Writing & Thinking Workshop, a multi-day intensive learning experience that provides students in every grade level with interesting exercises in critical reading and writing upon which they can build in their regular courses. Based on the principle that strong writing and close reading enrich and enliven the classroom experience in all disciplines, the workshop sets the stage for the kind of interdisciplinary, intensive, writing work students will engage with during their time at Bard High School Early College. 

Faculty members across disciplines include W&T in their classrooms, using short writing and critical reading exercises, including “focused free writes,” “believing and doubting,” and “text explosions,” and accompanying group discussions about the texts at hand to facilitate dialogue and as a tool for reflection, skill assessment, and continued development. Most importantly, Writing and Thinking pedagogy helps students learn how to use writing as a powerful tool for developing their thinking and voice.

The Seminar Sequence is the signature humanities experience of the Bard Early College program. The four-semester interdisciplinary Seminar Sequence exposes students to seminal texts from antiquity to modernity, which students engage through critical reading and interpretation. Readings have included Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates, Dante’s Inferno, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Goethe’s Faust, Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, Forster’s A Passage to India, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Kafka’s The Trial, and Frayn’s Copenhagen, among others. The Seminar Sequence is modeled on Bard College’s signature humanities course, First-Year Seminar.

Academic Divisions

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