Bard Center for Early College

Bringing College to High School

The Center for Early College (CEC) works to define and promote an educational model in which younger students can access higher education in a challenging, supportive, and affordable environment.

Bard College has led the Early College movement since partnering with Simon’s Rock, the nation’s first early college, in 1979. Today Bard operates a growing network of public early colleges—accredited Bard campuses located in public school systems—that allow students to earn up to 60 transferable college credits and an Associate’s degree, tuition-free, alongside a high school diploma. By providing high school-age students with a free, high-quality liberal arts education, the Bard Early College model reexamines the possibilities for college accessibility and affordability.

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The CEC, founded with the help of a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation, serves as a central hub for the ongoing work at Simon’s Rock and the network of Bard Early Colleges while inviting an expanded national conversation on early college models, education reform, and accessibility within higher education.

A National Movement

Student giving a presentation

Since Bard launched its first High School Early College fifteen years ago, over 400 public early colleges have opened across the country. The rapid growth of the model speaks to the success and importance of a simple and powerful idea—that students can, and often should, start college earlier. Bard now stands at the forefront of a major national movement, and The CEC responds to the increasing momentum of that movement. Through outward-facing initiatives that work to guide pedagogical practices, public policy, and institutional collaboration, The CEC brings Bard’s expertise to the growing early college movement.