Why It Works

The early college model is based on the fundamental belief that younger students can, and often should, start college early. This is a simple idea with an enormous impact.

students with papers

Opening Doors

Bard’s early college model provides ambitious young scholars from diverse backgrounds with a serious, credit-bearing education from a top-tier institution. It is an exceptional curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences, one that emphasizes critical reading, writing, and thinking. By blending rigorous college study with the academic and social supports of high school, the Bard Early Colleges expose younger people to a wider, more demanding, and more rewarding range of academic opportunities, enabling them to become engaged thinkers and global citizens.

Equity & Opportunity

Early College provides America’s young people with an opportunity to break from tradition and rethink their own academic potential. What Bard has found, particularly as its models have expanded across more public school systems, is that the rigid high school-to-college continuum is where some of America’s brightest but least supported students fall through the cracks. By bringing college to them, the Bard Early Colleges dramatically improve college-going and college success rates for underrepresented youth. When college is immediate, free, and rewarding, students are bound to rethink their college-going potential. A Bard Early College education, writes one alumnus, “prepares you for the rigors of college—because it is college.”

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Excellence in the Liberal Arts & Sciences

As one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, Bard is positioned to offer students in the Early Colleges a top-tier liberal arts curriculum while they are still in high school. All of the Bard Early Colleges are accredited by regional accrediting agencies, ensuring that classes are held to the same standards of rigor, depth, and quality as those at any other institute of higher education in America. Class sizes are kept small to better facilitate the seminar-style, discussion-based teaching methods used across disciplines. By emphasizing critical thinking, close reading, and clear writing, teaching across the Bard Early College campuses ensures that students receive a liberal arts education of the highest quality and caliber.


Bard College and Bard College at Simon’s Rock have been operating early colleges for fifty years. As the early college model, network, and national scope have grown, Bard and Simon’s Rock are still confident that the idea pioneered five decades ago is more relevant than ever to the national conversation on public education. As the nation’s first early college, Simon’s Rock has provided the Bard Early Colleges with structural, curricular, and pedagogical support specifically suited for an early college context. Bard College’s tradition of innovative programming in the liberal arts and sciences—including the Bard Prison Initiative and the Clemente Course in the Humanities—signals the College’s unique expertise in establishing pathbreaking approaches to higher education.