Bard College Student Handbook

Distribution Requirements

The distribution requirements at Bard are a formal statement of the College’s desire to achieve an equilibrium between breadth and depth, between communication across disciplinary boundaries, and rigor within a mode of thought. Distribution exposes the student to unfamiliar areas that might have remained unexplored. Investigating a range of academic areas and approaches may help students discover the field on which they want to focus, contribute to their specialized study by putting it in a wider perspective, and expand their intellectual horizons.

In order to introduce the student to a variety of intellectual and artistic experiences, and to foster student encounters with faculty members trained in a broad range of disciplines, each student is required to take one course in each of the nine categories listed below. The categories are based on fundamental subject areas that have been selected to promote intellectual breadth and versatility; they are not meant to provide a complete portrait of the current organization of academic fields of study or to be exclusively identified with a particular program or group of faculty. No more than two requirements may be fulfilled within a single disciplinary program. High school Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses may not be used to satisfy the requirements. Non-native speakers of English are exempted from the Foreign Language, Literature, and Culture requirement.

  • Analysis of Arts (A course in the analysis of nonverbal art)
  • Foreign Language, Literature, and Culture (A course focused on language
    acquisition and/or the analysis of literature or culture via an engagement with a
    non-English language)
  • History (A course focused on historical analysis)
  • Humanities (A course focused on the analysis of primary texts in philosophy, religion, or social thought)
  • Laboratory Science (A laboratory course in the physical or life sciences)
  • Literature in English (A course focused on the literary analysis and explication of
    texts in English, in either the original or translation)
  • Mathematics and Computing (A course in mathematics, computing, statistics, or logic; all courses require passing the Q-test as a prerequisite)
  • Practicing Arts (A studio course in the visual or performing arts, or creative writing)
  • Social Science (A course in the empirical social sciences other than history)

In addition, all students must fulfill a “Rethinking Difference” requirement. Courses with this designation focus on the study of difference in the context of larger social dynamics; they may consider the contexts of globalization, nationalism, and social justice, as well as differences of race, religion, ethnicity, class, gender, and/or sexuality. A single course may simultaneously fulfill both the “Rethinking Difference” requirement and another distribution requirement.