General FAQs

WHAT IS A BARD MICROCOLLEGE?

Bard College, distilled to its essence.

At a Bard microcollege, the scale of the campus is reduced—no dorms, no gym, no cafeteria—but the core of the educational experience burns bright: small, seminar-style classes taught by professors skilled at creating learning environments that challenge students, connect them to the world, and make them visible to themselves and each other. Microcollege classes are Bard classes; microcollege students earn Bard credits and work towards Bard degrees. All microcolleges are tuition-free.

The Bard Microcolleges are a project of the Bard Prison Initiative, which has been delivering high-quality liberal arts education to students incarcerated in New York prisons since 2001. The microcolleges extend BPI’s mission outward, bringing the same rigorous, degree-bearing liberal arts coursework to students in other unlikely places. Microcollege degrees are stepping stones to four-year degrees, satisfying careers, and lives of intellectual inquiry.

WHERE ARE BARD MICROCOLLEGES LOCATED?

There are three Bard microcolleges, one in Holyoke, Massachusetts, one in Brooklyn, and one in Harlem.The educational ethos—of doing ambitious college in unlikely places—is constant across all locations, but each microcollege has its own culture, its own rituals and traditions, deeply influenced by the partner organizations, the surrounding community, and the students themselves.

HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST?

There is no cost to students. Tuition and books are fully covered by grants and scholarships that do not have to be paid back. Students apply for federal Pell Grants and state aid such as Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants in NYS. The remainder of tuition and the cost of books are covered by full scholarships. Applicants who qualify for Pell Grants will be given priority.

WHAT DO BARD MICROCOLLEGE STUDENTS STUDY?

Everything liberal arts college students study at respected institutions the world over: literature, philosophy, anthropology, art, science, writing, mathematics, sociology, economics, history, and more. Microcollege students enroll full-time and work towards Bard College Associate in Arts degrees in Liberal Studies.

In the few years since the microcolleges’ founding, microcollege alums have gone on to pursue BAs at Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Elms College, Queens College, CUNY, Hampshire College, and Bard’s main campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

WHAT ARE CLASSES LIKE?

Small seminars taught by experienced professors who are invested in student learning and potential — no big lectures, no teaching assistants. Standards and expectations are high.

WHAT DO STUDENTS NEED TO GET IN?

A high school diploma or its equivalent (GED/HSE/ TASC). Curiosity, ambition, a willingness to work hard, and an open mind.


Prospective students—get updates about admissions to Bard microcolleges

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