The Curriculum


The undergraduate curriculum creates a flexible system of courses that gives coherence, breadth, and depth to the four years of study and helps students become knowledgeable across academic boundaries and able to think critically within a discipline or mode of thought. The pillars of the Bard education are the structure of the first year, including First-Year Seminar; the program- and concentration-based approach to study; Moderation; the concept of distribution by modes of thought; and the Senior Project. Students move from the Lower College (first and second years), which focuses on general education and introduces the content and methodology of the academic and artistic areas in which students may specialize, to the Upper College (third and fourth years), which involves advanced study of particular subjects and more independent work.



Structure of the First Year



All first-year students participate in a common curriculum—the Language and Thinking Program, First-Year Seminar, Citizen Science—and take elective courses.


The Language and Thinking Program is an intensive introduction to the liberal arts and sciences with a particular focus on writing. It is attended by all incoming Bard students during the last three weeks of August. Students read extensively, work on a variety of writing and other projects, and meet throughout the day in small groups and in one-on-one conferences with faculty. The work aims to cultivate habits of thoughtful reading and discussion, clear articulation, accurate self-critique, and productive collaboration. Satisfactory completion of the program is required. Students failing to meet this requirement will be asked to take one year’s academic leave.


First-Year Seminar: “What Is Freedom? Dialogues Ancient and Modern” To raise the question “What is freedom?” could hardly be more necessary today. Why have so many people in so many times and places identified freedom as a self-evident value, yet excluded many around them from its benefits? How have different civilizations defined freedom at different times? What does freedom mean in a democracy, an empire, a totalitarian regime? How do we understand the difference between “freedom to” and “freedom from,” between rights and responsibilities? These are just some of the questions addressed in the First-Year Seminar. In the fall semester, we ask: “What is political freedom?” Texts include works by thinkers from Socrates to Gandhi and Hannah Arendt. In the spring, we consider “What is personal freedom?” in the company of authors including Aristotle, James Joyce, and Malcolm X. By studying these texts, discussing their ideas in small seminars, and writing critical papers on them, students establish a foundation for their learning experience at the College and acquire a shared basis for conversation with fellow students, faculty members, and the world beyond.


Citizen Science, a two-and-a-half-week program that takes place during the January intersession, seeks to promote scientific literacy and introduce first-year students to methods of evaluating scientific evidence. Students are challenged to engage with the complexities of scientific inquiry and its complicated relationship to society. Teaching occurs in three distinct classroom modules: laboratory experimentation, computer-based strategies, and problem-based learning. For the past six years, the program has focused on the critical

theme of infectious disease and the impact that infectious disease outbreaks and subsequent management can have on global society. Satisfactory completion of the program is required for graduation from the College.


Under the First-Year Advising system, all students are assigned a faculty academic adviser, with whom they meet at strategic points during each semester. The advising system is intended to help students begin the process of selecting a program in which to major, meet the requirements of that program, prepare for professional study or other activities outside of or after college, and satisfy other interests.   Each student is also assigned to one of the first-year deans in the Center for Student Life and Advising.  The first-year dean supports students in their academic pursuits and helps students navigate personal, social, community, and campus life.  Through the Faculty in Residence Program, all first-year students are assigned to one of four “houses”.  These communities of students are led by a house professor whose role is to nurture intellectual and social connections within and across communities.


First-Year Electives allow students to explore fields in which they know they are interested and to experiment with unfamiliar areas of study. Students select three elective courses in each semester of the first year (the fourth course is the First-Year Seminar).



Program and Concentration Approach to Study



Liberal arts education offers students both breadth and depth of learning. Although many individual courses at Bard offer both breadth and depth, the primary sources of breadth are First-Year Seminar and the distribution requirements, while the primary source of depth is the requirement that each student major in at least one “stand-alone” program, possibly in conjunction with a “non-stand-alone” concentration. 


Programs and concentrations are organized within a framework of four academic divisions:  Division of the Arts; Division of Languages and Literature; Division of Science, Mathematics and Computing; and Division of Social Studies.  Some programs, and all concentrations, are interdivisional, meaning that they are established interdisciplinary courses of study that draw from several different programs across the four divisions. Students majoring in an interdivisional program moderate and pursue the major in one of the four divisions.



·         A program is a sequenced course of study, beginning at the introductory level and moving in progressive stages toward the development of the ability to think and/or create, innovatively and reflectively, by means of the formal structures that the discipline provides.


·         A program requires 3-5 courses by the time of moderation and a total of 7-10 4-credit courses (or other configuration of courses totaling 28-40 credits) by the time of graduation. The required courses can be either specifically designed courses or menus of courses, and may be offered by the program or by other programs. A program may recommend, though not require, additional courses for those students wishing to pursue graduate study in the field.






·         A concentration is a cluster of related courses on a clearly defined topic.


·         A student can only moderate into a concentration in conjunction with his or her moderation into a program. The moderations may be either simultaneous or sequential; if they are sequential, the moderation into the program must come first. In either case, there must be a clear significance and value to the coterminous completion of the requirements of the concentration and the program.


·         A concentration requires 2-3 courses by the time of moderation and a total of 5-6 4-credit courses (or a total of 20-24 credits) by the time of graduation.


·         To complete a concentration, a student must moderate, fulfill all course requirements, and produce a Senior Project that combines the interdisciplinary theories and methods of the concentration with the disciplinary theories and methods of the program.




Pathways to Graduation









·         The Bard Master of Arts in Teaching 4+1 program offers Bard undergraduates a path to an M.A. in teaching and NY state grades 7-12 teacher certification in biology, history, literature or mathematics within 5 years of their entering college.

·         Engineering - Bard has several combined engineering programs with both Dartmouth College and Columbia University.


See detailed pages at the end of this booklet for more information.



Academic Programs of Study



Undergraduate students must moderate into at least one of the following stand-alone academic programs. 



Division of the Arts



Division of Languages and Literature



Division of Science, Mathematics and Computing



Division of Social Studies



Interdivisional Programs




Multidisciplinary Studies Program


The Multidisciplinary Studies Program allows a student to select an area of study or develop an individual approach to an area and then design their own program that integrates material from different programs and divisions in order to pursue that study.  Multidisciplinary Studies Programs must have the support of faculty advisers and be approved by the Faculty Executive Committee.




Interdivisional Concentrations



A concentration is an optional course of study consisting of a cluster of related courses on a clearly defined topic.  Concentrations may only be pursued in conjunction with a primary program of study.








Moderation is the process by which all students must transition from the Lower College to the Upper College and establish their major in a program.  Moderation is a crucial point in the individual student's career at Bard in which, with the help of a board of three faculty members, the student assesses his or her record and plans a future course of study.


Purpose of the Moderation





Time of Moderation


The Moderation ordinarily takes place in the second semester of the sophomore year.  Transfer students entering with the equivalent of two full years of credit should, if possible, moderate during the first semester of residence, but in no case later than the second.  In order to postpone Moderation one semester, a student must obtain the written approval of his or her adviser.  Postponing Moderation a second semester requires approval of the Faculty Executive Committee.  For double majors, the second Moderation may occur in the second semester of the sophomore year or in either semester of the junior year.  Students must be moderated before they can start a Senior Project.




All students must prepare two short papers for Moderation, the first assessing their curriculum, performance, and experience in the first two years, and the second identifying their goals and proposed study plan for the final two years.  All students also submit a sample of work they have done in the program—for example, a long paper written for a course.  


Students consult with their adviser to determine the process for scheduling the Moderation board and to find out about any special papers or other material that needs to be submitted along with the two short papers.   Students must prepare 4 copies of the required papers and materials to be submitted to the registrar's office and the three board members by the Moderation deadline.


Moderation Board Decisions





Senior Project



All students at Bard are required to complete a Senior Project.  The Senior Project is an original, individual, focused project growing out of the student's cumulative academic experiences.  One course each semester of the student's final year is devoted to completing the Senior Project.  In order to begin Senior Project, a student must have completed 96 credits, and must be moderated in the program.  The Senior Project must be completed in two consecutive semesters.


Preparation for the Senior Project begins in the junior year.  Students consult with advisers, and pursue course work, tutorials, and seminars directed toward selecting a topic, choosing a form of the project, and becoming competent in the analytical and research methods required by the topic and form.  Students in some programs design a Major Conference during their junior year, which may take the form of a seminar, tutorial, studio work, or field of laboratory work.  By the end of the junior year, students should finalize the selection of the Senior Project adviser and two other faculty members who will serve on the Senior Project review board. 


At the end of the senior year, four copies of the project must be submitted to the Office of the Dean of the College by 5 pm on the due date.  The student is then responsible for distributing three of the copies to the board members.  The fourth copy of the Project is filed in the Library's archives.  Arts division students who are doing an installation or performance should submit a 1-page Senior Project abstract on the due date. 


Permission to submit a Project later than the due date must be secured from the Faculty Executive Committee not later than one week prior to the due date, and must include the written support of the adviser and an explanation of the reasons for the request.  Late submission of the Project without permission will result in a lowering of the grade.


Students receiving the grade of F and desiring to graduate from Bard will have to undertake an entirely new project.  The due date for the submission of the new project will be no later than two years after the original due date of the first Project.



Academic Requirements and Regulations



Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements



1.     Completion, by entering first-year students, of the August Language and Thinking Program

Students failing to complete the program will be placed on leave and invited to repeat the program the following August.


2.     Completion, by entering first-year students, of the two-semester First-Year Seminar

A student who enters in the second semester of the first year must complete that semester of the course. A student who transfers into the College as a sophomore or junior is exempt from the course.


3.     Completion, by entering first-year students, of the January Citizen Science Program 

A student who transfers into the College after the second semester of the first year is exempt from the program.


4.     Promotion to the Upper College through Moderation


5.     Completion of the requirements of the program into which they moderate


6.     Completion of the courses necessary to satisfy the distribution requirements


7.     Semester hours of academic credit: 128

(160 for students in 5-year, dual-degree programs; 156 for Conservatory students who enrolled before the fall of 2011)


·         At least 64 credits must be earned at the Annandale-on-Hudson campus of Bard College

·         At least 40 credits must be outside the major division (FYSEM counts for 8 of the 40 credits)


8.     Enrollment as full-time students for not less than two years at the Annandale-on-Hudson campus of Bard College or at a program directly run by Bard College


9.     Completion of an acceptable Senior Project



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. In order to introduce the student to a variety of intellectual and artistic experiences and to foster encounters with faculty members trained in a broad range of disciplines, each student is required to take one course in each of the 10 categories listed below.  The distribution requirements for graduation were renamed and redefined by the faculty in 2016.









D+J - Difference and Justice  (formerly Rethinking Difference, DIFF)  Courses fulfilling this distribution requirement have a primary focus on the study of difference in the context of larger social dynamics such as globalization, nationalism, and social justice. They will address differences that may include but are not limited to ability/disability, age, body size, citizenship status, class, color, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, geography, nationality, political affiliation, religion, race, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background, and will engage critically with issues of difference, diversity, inequality, and inclusivity.


AA - Analysis of Art (formerly AART)  The analysis of arts distribution requirement teaches students to interpret both the form and content of creative works, including visual and performing arts. The requirement further aims to help students understand how works of visual art, music, film, theater, and dance shape, or are shaped by, social, political, and historical circumstances and contexts.


FL - Foreign Languages and Literatures (formerly Foreign Language, Literature & Culture, FLLC)  The study of another language involves not just the process of internalizing new linguistic forms but also attention to the various cultural manifestations of that language. The goal of this requirement is to gain a critical appreciation of non-Anglophone languages and to question the assumption of an underlying uniformity across cultures and literary traditions. To satisfy this requirement, students may take any course in a foreign language, a course in a foreign literature, or a course in the theory and practice of translation.


HA - Historical Analysis (formerly History, HIST)  A course focused on analysis of change over time in society, or the distinctiveness of a past era, using written or physical evidence. The course should alert students to the differences and similarities of contemporary experience from past modes of life, as well as suggest that present categories of experience are themselves shaped historically and can be analyzed by imaginatively investigating past institutions, texts, and worldviews.


LA - Literary Analysis in English  (formerly Literature in English, ELIT)  What distinguishes poetry, fiction, or drama from other kinds of discourse? Foregrounding the practice of close reading to investigate the relationship between form and content, these courses invite students to explore not only the “what” or “why” of literary representation, but also the “how.” The goal of the requirement is to engage critically the multiple ways in which language shapes thought and makes meaning by considering the cultural, historical, and formal dimensions of literary texts.


LS - Laboratory Science (formerly Science, SCI)  In courses satisfying the Laboratory Science requirement, students will actively participate in data collection and analysis using technology and methodology appropriate to the particular field of study. Students will develop analytical, modeling, and quantitative skills in the process of comparing theory and data. Laboratory Science students will develop an understanding of statistical and other uncertainties in the process of constructing and interpreting scientific evidence.


MBV - Meaning, Being, and Value (formerly Humanities, HUM) This distribution area addresses how humans conceptualize the nature of knowledge and belief, construct systems of value, and interpret the nature of what is real. Such courses may also focus on questions pertaining to the human moral condition, human society and culture, and humanity’s place in the cosmos, or on the ways in which civilizations have dealt with those questions. All MBV courses will pay special attention to analysis and interpretation of texts and practices, as well as seek to cultivate skills of argument development and the open-minded consideration of counter-argument.


MC - Mathematics and Computing (formerly MATC)  Courses satisfying the Mathematics and Computation requirement challenge students to model and reason about the world logically and quantitatively, explicitly grappling with ambiguity and precision. Students will learn and practice discipline-specific techniques and, in doing so, represent and communicate ideas through mathematical arguments, computer programs, or data analysis.


PA - Practicing Arts (formerly PART)  The practicing arts distribution requirement emphasizes making or performing as an educational process. Courses develop students’ creative and imaginative faculties by focusing upon a set of artistic skills or working methods. Fields of study include dance, theater, music performance and composition, film production, creative writing, and the visual arts. Students will learn through experiential practices in order to cultivate the self as a primary agent of expression, cultural reflection, and creativity.


SA - Social Analysis (formerly Social Science, SSCI)  Courses in this area approach the study of people and society at a variety of levels of analysis, ranging from the individual to large social institutions and structures. Consideration is given to how people relate to and are shaped by social structures, divisions, and groups, such as politics, economics, family, and culture, as well as their past experiences and immediate situations.  The goal of this distribution requirement is to understand one’s own or others’ place within a wider social world, and thus these courses are central to discussions about citizenship, ethics, and the possibilities and limits of social change.

Evaluation and Grading System


Every student receives a criteria sheet in every course which contains midterm and final grades and comments by the instructor about the student’s performance.


Grading System  The academic divisions regularly use a letter grading system, although in some instances a pass/fail option may be requested. Students must submit a request before the end of the drop/add period to take a course pass/fail. Professors may accommodate requests at their own discretion. An honors grade (H) in the Arts Division is the equivalent of an A. Unless the instructor of a course specifies otherwise, letter grades (and their grade-point equivalents) are defined as follows. (The grades A+, D+, and D- are not used at Bard.)


A, A– (4.0, 3.7) Excellent work

B+, B, B– (3.3, 3.0, 2.7) Work that is more than satisfactory

C+, C (2.3, 2.0) Competent work

C–, D (1.7, 1.0) Performance that is poor, but deserving of credit

F Failure to reach the standard required in the course for credit


Incomplete (I) Status  All work for a course must be submitted no later than the date of the last class of the semester, except in extenuating medical or personal circumstances beyond a student’s control. In such situations, and only in such situations, a designation of Incomplete (I) may be granted by the professor at the end of the semester to allow a student extra time to complete the work of the course. It is recommended that an

incomplete status not be maintained for more than one semester, but a professor may specify any date for the completion of the work. In the absence of specification, the registrar will assume that the deadline is the end of the semester after the one in which the course was taken. At the end of the time assigned, the I will be changed to a grade of F unless another default grade has been specified. Requests for grade changes at later

dates may always be submitted to the Faculty Executive Committee.


Withdrawal (W) from Courses  After the drop/add deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with the written consent of the instructor (using the proper form, available in the Office of the Registrar). Withdrawal from a course after the withdrawal deadline requires permission from the Faculty Executive Committee. In all cases of withdrawal, the course appears on the student’s criteria sheet and grade transcript with the designation of W.


Registration (R) Credit/Audit   Students wishing to explore an area of interest may audit a course with the instructor’s permission.  The audited course is entered on their record but does not earn credits toward graduation. To receive the registration (R) credit, a student’s attendance must meet the requirements of the instructor.



Academic Policies


Pass/Fail/D   As of fall 2016, students can request to take a course that is normally letter graded as pass/fail/D until 5:00 p.m. on the fifth Wednesday of the term. The petition requires the signature of the professor.  Students must now earn the equivalent of a C or better in the course to get the grade of P.  A grade of P does not factor into the GPA.  If a student earns a D or F in the course, these grades will be recorded on the transcript and will factor into the GPA.  There is no grade of C- with pass/fail/D; the grade must be either a P, a D, or an F.


Drop/Add and “Late” dropping   As of fall 2016, the drop/add period extends from the first day of class until 5 p.m. on Wednesday of the second week of classes.  Drop/add requires the signature of the professor and the student’s adviser.  Provided the 12 credit full-time enrollment minimum is observed, courses may be “late” dropped until 5:00 p.m. on the fifth Wednesday of the term.  Late drop requires the signature of the professor, the student’s adviser, and a registrar.  Late drop is not available to part-time students.


Credit limits   A normal course load is 16 credits each semester.  No student may take more than 18 credits in their first semester at Bard.  After the first semester, students wishing to take more than 18 credits must complete the Irregular Program Form (available in the Registrar’s Office) and have a GPA of 3.6 or higher in the preceding semester and cumulatively.  Exceptions must be approved by the dean of studies.


IB & AP transfer credits   Students who earn a score of 5 on a high school Advanced Placement exam will be given 4 college transfer credits.  A score of 5 or higher on an International Baccalaureate exam will earn 8 credits for each higher level course and 4 credits for each standard level course.  A maximum of 32 AP and IB credits may be transferred in.  High school Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses may not be used to satisfy distribution requirements, and in some programs may not be used to satisfy program moderation or graduation requirements.



Academic Standing



The Faculty Executive Committee determines the status of students with academic deficiencies, with attention to the following guidelines:


A warning letter may be sent to students whose academic work is deficient but does not merit probation.


Academic Probation



Mandatory Leave of Absence






Decisions about a student’s status are made at the discretion of the Faculty Executive Committee, taking into consideration the student’s entire record and any recommendations from the student’s instructors and advisers and relevant members of the administration. Academic dismissal appears on a student’s transcript.




Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty



To plagiarize is to “steal and pass off as one’s own the ideas, words, or writings of another.” This dictionary definition is quite straightforward, but it is possible for students to plagiarize inadvertently if they do not carefully distinguish between their own ideas or paper topics and those of others. The Bard faculty regards acts of plagiarism very seriously. Listed below are guidelines to help students avoid committing plagiarism.



Penalties for Plagiarism / Academic Dishonesty


Students who are found to have plagiarized or engaged in academic dishonesty will be placed on academic probation. Additional penalties are as follows:



The following penalties may be imposed on a student who writes a paper or part of a paper for another student (even if this is done during a formal tutoring session):



Any student accused of plagiarism, academic dishonesty, or writing for another’s use may submit a written appeal to the Faculty Executive Committee. Appeals are ordinarily submitted in the semester in which the charge of plagiarism is made; they will not be considered if submitted later than the start of the semester following the one in which the charge of plagiarism is made. The findings of this body are final.


Students may not submit the same work, in whole or in part, for more than one course without first consulting with and receiving consent from all professors involved.