Bard College Student Handbook

Academic Mission

Since its founding in 1860, Bard College has maintained a fervent commitment to the liberal arts and sciences education along with a readiness to innovate that has enhanced the undergraduate experience with compatible intellectual and artistic ventures at its Hudson Valley campus and at affiliated institutions around the world. Bard seeks to provide a challenging academic program; a supportive environment that fosters a collaborative interchange of ideas in the classroom, studio, and laboratory as well as the ambition to achieve excellence; and access to world-class scholarship and research.

Choice, flexibility, and rigor are the hallmarks of the Bard education, which is a transformative synthesis of the liberal arts and progressive education traditions. Bard students are expected to shape the subject matter of their education by the exercise of imagination and intellectual engagement. The liberal arts tradition at Bard is evident in the First-Year Seminar and in general courses that ground students in the essentials of inquiry and analysis and present a serious encounter with the world of ideas. The progressive tradition is reflected in Bard’s tutorial system and interdisciplinary curriculum, emphasizing independent and creative thought and the skills required to express those thoughts with power and effect.

Bard’s evolving curriculum—recent changes include a greater emphasis on laboratory science for the nonscientist—and its affiliated institutes and graduate programs expand the opportunities for undergraduate students to work with leading scholars and artists. For example, Bard students are offered specialized study with leading experts in foreign policy at Bard’s Globalization and International Affairs Program in New York City. The Bard Rockefeller Semester in Science offers undergraduates the opportunity to do graduate school–level research in the internationally distinguished laboratories of The Rockefeller University. This innovative, entrepreneurial satellite model is unique in the field of higher education and equips students to play active, engaged roles not only for the sake of personal goals, but also in order to address the larger issues that face humanity in our time.