How Do I Apply?

Admissions for Fall 2024 will run from March 1, 2024 to April 15, 2024. Please join our mailing list to learn about upcoming Open Houses and Info Sessions, and to be reminded when admissions opens.

Applicants to the Bard Microcollege begin by participating in a timed, in-person writing session at either of these locations:

You can apply to either the Brooklyn or Harlem Microcollege at either location. Finalists will be contacted to set up an interview on Zoom, and will be asked to complete the FAFSA form.

No standardized tests or placement exams are required. There is no application fee to apply to the Bard Microcolleges.

Click Here to Apply

Interested in learning more about the tuition-free Bard Microcolleges? Join us at an upcoming Open House!

Bard Microcollege Open Houses give prospective applicants a chance to experience Microcollege culture and ask questions about the program.

Brooklyn Open House

CANCELLED: Tuesday, February 13, 2024, 1:30-2:30 PM
In anticipation of severe weather and Brooklyn Public Library’s closure on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, our open house is being rescheduled to a future date in February.

Harlem Open House
Thursday, February 29, 2024, 12:15-1 PM
Maysles Documentary Center (1st Floor – Cinema)
343 Malcolm X Blvd.
New York, NY 10027
RSVP here for Harlem Open House

Virtual Info Session
Sunday, February 18, 2024, 5 PM ET
RSVP here for Virtual Info Session

Or reach out to to set up a one-on-one conversation with Bard Microcollege staff to get your questions answered. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sign up for a writing session at the link above. Basic information is all that is required. You can reserve a place at a writing session in Brooklyn or Harlem, and you can apply to either campus (or both) at any writing session.


Plan to spend 1 to 2 hours on this part of the process. Writing sessions are scheduled on many different days at different times of day during the period of March 1 to April 15, 2024. During the writing session, you will be given three short text excerpts or images, and asked to write an open response to just one. You may write in whatever form you choose—the writing does not have to be a formal essay. Grammar and spelling are less important than showing how and what you think about the text or image you choose to write about.


Once the essays are reviewed by Bard College staff, finalists will be asked to fill out the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).


Finalists will then be invited to a brief interview on Zoom. Each finalist will meet individually with Bard College staff for a 10- to 15-minute conversation.

Questions about any of this?

Reach out to with any questions, or join our mailing list to hear about open houses and other upcoming events.



What is Bard College?

A liberal arts college founded in 1860 in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Today, Bard College is one of the country’s most respected institutions of higher learning, known for its commitment to the liberal arts and to democratizing access to them. Bard seeks to inspire curiosity, a love of learning, and a commitment to the link between higher education and civic participation. Its small-group seminars encourage thoughtful conversation in an inclusive environment.

What is the Bard Microcollege for Just Community Leadership?

A local, top-quality, accredited college where students earn an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College by attending classes at the Countee Cullen branch of the New York Public Library. The Microcollege for Just Community Leadership is a collaboration between the Bard Prison Initiative, College & Community Fellowship, and JustLeadershipUSA, and culminates years of cooperation between these three organizations, insisting that education and community-based advocacy always be at the core of criminal justice reform. The Microcollege for Just Community Leadership demonstrates a way to think innovatively about education and power in America, while addressing the harms of mass incarceration and structural racism directly.

How much does this cost?

There is no cost to students. Tuition and books are fully covered by grants and scholarships. Unlike student loans, grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back.

What will I study?

Everything college students study at liberal arts institutions the world over: literature, philosophy, anthropology, art, science, writing, mathematics, sociology, economics, history, and more. At the Bard Microcollege for Just Community Leadership, advocacy and leadership are at the heart of the curriculum. While students take classes across the same breadth of disciplines as all Bard College students, specific course topics are designed around students’ interests in social justice and community-building.

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. Bard Microcolleges are large in ambition but small in terms of the number of students they serve at any one time. Students receive individual attention that keeps them on track toward their degree.

Who is this for?

People from justice-impacted communities and those whose educations may have been derailed by incarceration, financial challenges, work, family responsibilities, or life in general. Students come from all over New York City. Age doesn’t matter. Those whose household finances qualify them for Pell and TAP Grants will be given priority. The Bard Microcollege for Just Community Leadership only enrolls students who do not already hold an associate degree or higher from another institution, whether from the U.S. or abroad. Microcollege students may be co-enrolled with College & Community Fellowship or JustLeadershipUSA programs, or they may have no prior relationship with CCF or JLUSA.

What do I 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. No standardized tests are required. There is no application fee.

When and where will classes be held?

Classes are offered in the fall semester from September to December and in the spring semester from January to May. New students will begin their first year with a two-week workshop in mid-August. Classes are scheduled between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, at the Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library.

Will we be studying online?

At the height of the pandemic, classes at the Bard Microcolleges ran remotely, but you should be prepared for the current semester to be in person, though some hybrid or virtual classes may end up being necessary. The Microcollege for Just Community Leadership is an in-person college; online classes are only offered as a last resort.

How many classes will I take each semester?

Bard Microcollege students enroll full-time. The typical full-time course load is 3 courses per semester, 4 credits per course = 12 credits per semester. Some variation is possible.

Can I work while studying at Bard Microcollege?

Yes, if you can schedule your work hours around your college work and other responsibilities. A full-time, three-course, 12-credit course load requires at least 8 hours of in-class time per week, plus 16-24 hours of work outside of class. Students who have added a job to their college and household responsibilities have become expert time managers.

I've already done some college. Can I transfer those credits?

Yes, Bard will accept up to 30 credits for courses taken at another institution as long as they’re similar to those offered at Bard. You must provide proof that you completed the course and earned a grade of C or better. Bard’s registrar has to review and approve each transfer-credit request.

I have a student loan in default. Can I still apply?

Yes. If you’re accepted, Bard counselors may be able to work with you to rehabilitate loans in default and help you qualify again for federal and state financial aid—this is a goal but not a guarantee.

What can I do with a Bard Associate in Arts degree?

Continue on for a bachelor’s degree, and from there a graduate degree. Qualify for a job that requires critical thinking and communication skills. Gain a broader, deeper perspective on our world, culture, history, and political environment. Redefine what success can mean.

What's my next step?

Join our mailing list here to be notified when sign-ups open for the admissions process.
Or reach out to with any questions.