The mission of Bard High School Early College is to provide bright, highly motivated students of high school age the challenge of a rigorous course of study that emphasizes thinking through writing, discussion, and inquiry, enabling them to begin college upon completing the 10th grade.

Interview with a BHSEC Professor

Program Overview

At the end of four years at BHSEC Manhattan, students have completed the first two years of an undergraduate liberal arts education, earning up to 60 college credits and an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College, as well as a New York State Regents Diploma.

In the college program – the third and fourth years, or Year One and Year Two – students take a full college course load in the liberal arts and sciences. All 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.

In the high school program (9th and 10th grades), a more structured, high school curriculum is meant to help students ease into college coursework. All 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.


Our fundamental principles: 

  • That many motivated students are fully capable of beginning college work by the time they would normally reach the 11th grade;
  • That success requires a faculty as committed to fostering adolescent development as they are to teaching and scholarship;
  • That a strong general education in the liberal arts and sciences should be the foundation of the curriculum; and
  • That an early college based on these principles could provide a model for reforming the education of American high school students.

What we hope to teach our students:

  • 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.

Writing & Thinking Workshop

Every fall semester at BHSEC begins with The Writing & Thinking Workshop, a five-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. Conceived by Bard College president Leon Botstein and 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 work students will tackle during their time at BHSEC.

Faculty members from all disciplines lead workshop sections of about fifteen to eighteen students in short writing activities, critical reading exercises, and group discussions about the texts at hand—a shared selection of traditional and contemporary poetry, plays, essays, fiction and non-fiction from several disciplines—developing a common vocabulary that will serve students well as they continue to grow as readers, writers, and thinkers.

Whether engaged in a ten-minute “focused free-write,” or debating the meaning of a line of poetry, students not only work with faculty and with each other to build their critical language skills, they also experience what it means to participate in an intimate intellectual community. They learn to take initiative, speak up, and think differently while listening to alternative ideas, presenting personal work for feedback, and providing thoughtful criticism on others’ work. By the end of the workshop, students produce a piece of polished prose that can become a tool for reflection, skill assessment, and continued development.

High School Requirements

Course Sequence: 
English                         Grade 9            American Literature 1 & 2
English                         Grade 10          World Literature 1 & 2 
Social Studies              Grade 9            The Americas 1 & 2
Social Studies              Grade 10          Global Studies 1 & 2 
Math                             Grade 9            Algebra and Geometry
Math                             Grade 10          Algebra 2 and Trigonometry                                                                         
Science                        Grade 9            Introduction to Science; Biology, Chemistry or Physics
Science                        Grade 10          Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics   
Language                    Grade 9            Chinese, Latin, or Spanish
Language                    Grade 10          Chinese, Latin, or Spanish                               
Arts                               Grade 9            Visual Art, Music, and/or Theater
Arts                               Grade 10          Visual Art, Music, and/or Theater
Physical Education    Grade 9            
Physical Education    Grade 10

Requirements for the High School Regents Diploma:
In addition to fulfilling course requirements, students must take eight semesters of Physical Education, one semester of Health Education, and must pass five New York State Regents examinations in order to receive the New York State High School Regents Diploma.

The required Regents exams are English Common Core, one science (Chemistry, Earth Science, Living Environment, or Physics), one mathematics, (Common Core Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II), one social studies (US History and Government, Global Studies) and 1 more exam. 

In practice, students at BHSEC Queens who have not already met Regents requirements before enrolling usually take Common Core Algebra, US History and Government, and Living Environment as 9th graders; in 10th grade they take Common Core English and Global Studies.

College Requirements

In their last two years at BHSEC, students are encouraged to explore a variety of fields and to build their skills as independent thinkers, as critical readers, researchers and writers, and to prepare to transition smoothly into a four-year college of their choice.

Requirements for the Associate in 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 New York State Regents Diploma requirements in order to receive the Bard Associate of Arts Degree:

  • All four semesters of the Seminar sequence
  • Two semesters of college science, including laboratory experience
  • Two semesters of college math, starting with the appropriate core course
  • Two semesters of college foreign language or language and culture
  • Four semesters of social science and/or literature electives
  • Three credits of musictheatercreative writingdance, and/or visual art while enrolled in the college program