Bard College Student Handbook

Program and Concentration Approach to Study

A liberal arts education offers students both breadth and depth of learning. At Bard, the primary sources of breadth are the First-Year Seminar and the distribution requirements. The primary source of depth is the requirement that each student major in a stand-alone academic program, possibly in conjunction with a non-stand-alone­ field of study, or concentration, or with another program in a joint major.

A program is a sequenced course of study designed by faculty (and sometimes by students in conjunction with faculty) to focus on a particular area of knowledge or a ­particular approach to an area. The course of study begins at the introductory level and moves in progressive stages toward the development of the ability to think and/or create, innovatively and reflectively, by means of the formal structures that the discipline provides. A concentration is a cluster of related courses on a clearly defined topic. A student may moderate into a concentration, but only in tandem with his or her moderation into a program.
With a curriculum based on programs rather than more traditionally defined departments, the faculty are encouraged to rethink boundaries between divisions and ­disciplines and to examine the content of their courses in terms of how the courses interact with one another. This more flexible framework allows students to create interdisciplinary plans of study. Many programs and concentrations, such as Asian Studies and Human Rights, are interdisciplinary in nature and can take advantage of the faculty and offerings of the entire College. For example, the Asian Studies Program may draw from courses in history, literature, art history, and economics.

The requirements for Moderation and graduation differ from program to program and are summarized in the individual descriptions that appear in this catalogue. All students must declare a major in a program in order to moderate from the Lower College to the Upper College and become a candidate for the bachelor of arts degree. A student who decides to pursue a double major—say, physics and philosophy—must satisfy the requirements of both programs and complete two Senior Projects. A student who pursues a joint major moderates into two programs, ideally in a joint Moderation, and completes course requirements for both programs and a single, unified Senior Project. A student who pursues study in a concentration must also moderate into a program, fulfill all course requirements, and produce a Senior Project that combines the interdisciplinary theories and methods of the concentration with the disciplinary theories and methods of the program.