Bard High School Early College

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Coordinates: 40°43′10″N 73°56′55″W / 40.7195°N 73.9485°W / 40.7195; -73.9485

Bard High School Early College
Bard High School Early College.jpg
  • 525 E Houston Street, Manhattan, NY 10002
  • 30-20 Thomson Ave., Queens, NY 11101
  • 321 Bergen St, Newark, NJ 07103
  • 2801 N Dukeland St, Baltimore, MD 21216
  • 13501 Terminal Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44135

United States
Type Public secondary, college
Established June 2001

Leon Botstein

Dean Martha J. Olson[1]
Principal Michael Lerner
Grades 9-12
Enrollment Approx. 560 students
Campus Urban
Color(s) Black, white, and red
Mascot Raptors, Bardbarians
Affiliations Bard College, Bard College at Simon's Rock, NYC Department of Education
Students graduate with a high school diploma, an A.A. in liberal arts, and 60+ college credits.

Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) is an alternative public secondary school in New York City, United States, that allows highly motivated and scholastically strong students to begin their college studies two years early. Students complete their high school requirements in two years and then embark on college work. After four years, they receive both a Regents diploma and an associate degree. BHSEC has three campuses: BHSEC Manhattan, which opened in 2001, is located in the Lower East Side, Manhattan in a building previously occupied by Public School 97; BHSEC Queens, which opened in 2008, located in Long Island City; and BHSEC Newark opened 2011 and located in Newark, New Jersey. In 2012, The New York Observer ranked BHSEC Manhattan as the number one public high school in New York City, with an A+ grade, a higher grade than the top school in the private school rankings.[2]


Founded in 2001 as a partnership of the New York City Department of Education and Bard College and funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the school accepts students into the ninth grade and allows them to earn both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts (AA) degree in four years. BHSEC was the first school in the Gates Foundation's Early College High School Initiative, which aims to improve education in the United States by introducing smaller public high schools which help remove the barriers to a college education by offering students a college education in a high school setting. Many of the teaching philosophies that BHSEC has implemented were developed at Bard College at Simon's Rock, the oldest and most highly regarded early college entrance program and the only accredited four-year early college to date.

Many graduates of BHSEC transfer their 60+ college credits to another college or university and finish their Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in two more years; others opt to study for three or four years in their subsequent institutions. The tuition-free school is open to all New York City residents and attracts a highly diverse student body. Admission is highly competitive and is based on grades, an essay and math exam, and an interview. In admitting the class of 2001, 900 applicants made it to the interview stage of the application. Approximately 6000- 8000 applicants vie for approximately 148 seats each fall. In fall 2008, a new school, BHSEC Queens, opened and is located in Long Island City to offer more gifted students in New York City an early college education.

As of June 2009, seven classes have graduated since the school's opening in 2001, and the first class to have gone through all four years of the program graduated in June 2005.


High school[edit]

In the BHSEC program, students spend what is traditionally ninth and tenth grade finishing the bulk of their high school work. Students take the five Regents exams required for the High School Regents diploma, which they receive in addition to the Associates of Arts degree from Bard College. Unlike most New York City high schools, however, BHSEC does not offer courses tailored to prepare students for the Regents, nor are there any Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered (as the last two years are spent in an accredited college program). In order to complete the high school curriculum in two years, courses are taught at an accelerated pace.

During the freshman fall semester, students are enrolled in Introduction to Foreign Languages, where they experience three foreign languages: Latin, Spanish, Chinese. At the end of the semester, students choose the language they wish to study further.

Additionally, in freshman year, students sample the arts that are offered. Students take visual arts and theater for one half a semester each, and take music and dance together, on alternating days, for a semester. At the end of the year, they are given courses to choose from for the following year. Some of these courses are drum circle, chamber music, studio art, Chinese calligraphy, theater for social change, storytelling, the search in research, and rock ensemble. Introduction to the Arts is similar to the Introduction to Foreign Languages course, where each class contributes to the final grade. This program began in the fall of 2006.

As of the fall 2008 semester, the high school science curriculum has been revamped. Ninth graders take a full year's course of Physics and then take Chemistry for 10th grade. In the following year, they will take Biology as a college course.

BHSEC does not rank its students and does not honor titles such as Valedictorian, nor does it implement a Dean's list.

Early college program[edit]

The two years spent in the college program are denoted Year 1 and Year 2. As a college program, students may select their courses based primarily on their academic interests and preferences for certain professors; however, they must also meet the college program's core requirements. These requirements include four semesters of seminar, in which students read and discuss seminal works of western thought, from Plato and the classics through Shakespeare and ending in postmodernism. Students are also required to complete two semesters of math, two semesters of laboratory science, one semester of history, one semester of literature, and two additional semesters of either social science or literature, two semesters of a foreign language (at least one at intermediate level) and three arts credits. Students may also create their own courses with the independent study program, provided that a faculty member is knowledgeable in the subject. Every semester, a student must take 14-18 credits. With permission from the dean, students may take more than 18 credits in a semester. Students can also transfer credits from other universities to meet their requirements for the college program.

BHSEC's college program offers classes that are more specialized than in the high school program, such as Linear Algebra, Reason and Politics, Novels of Dostoyevsky, Philosophy of Religion, Physics of Sound and Music, The Social Contract and Its Critics, and Culture and History of Food. These courses are taught by college professors, many of whom have published books and articles in their fields.

Queens Campus[edit]

In addition to the original Bard High School Early College in Manhattan, a campus in Long Island City, Queens opened in 2008. The campus, situated in a building owned by LaGuardia Community college, has a similar philosophy to BHSEC Manhattan. The two campuses follow the same admissions process, and have similar academic policies.


Students who have grades of 85 or above (the higher the better) in their core academic subjects and score Level 3 or 4 on standardized tests may take Bard's entrance exam, which includes math questions and an essay. Evening open houses are held in the fall and spring. About 3,000 students take the test and 800 are called for interviews for 155 seats.


The majority of BHSEC faculty members at the school hold PhDs and all faculty have a master's degree or higher (2003-2004 Annual School Report). Faculty often choose to teach courses in the area of their current scholarly research. A full list of faculty is available on the school's website.[3]

BHSEC is known for having close student-faculty relationships in addition to a student-faculty ratio of 20:1 which is much less common for a public high school in New York City.[citation needed]

Student resources[edit]


The library was opened in November 2004. It uses a fully automated catalog which can be accessed online.[4] The library has added a small collection of classic movies in circulation. There twenty-five wireless laptops available to students for work and research, with printer access.

Beginning in spring 2007 term, a Student Lounge was created and the Learning Center merged into the library. This effectively shifted socializing to the Student Center and renewed the academic purpose of the library space. However, as of the 2007-2008 school year, the Student Lounge is out of service because the construction of a new elevator for the faculty and physically disabled students has decreased the number of available classrooms. The room that was formerly used for the Student Center is now used as a classroom.

Learning Center[edit]

In fall 2004, BHSEC opened the Learning Center including a Writing Center, where students can come for assistance in writing papers from faculty and student volunteers, and a Math Center for math help. Some professors are willing to take into consideration the time spent in the Writing Center working on their papers into grading. All BHSEC's professors and instructors are accessible during their office hours and are willing to meet before and after school.

At the beginning of the spring 2007 term, the Learning Center was relocated to a portion of the library and its former location became the new Student Center to re-separate the library from socializing. The Student Center then became a classroom due to the construction of an elevator.

Student life[edit]

While studies occupy much of BHSEC students' time, they are also participants in community events.

As of 2012, the Student Activities Center opened as a space for students to relax and study in, with comfortable chairs a coffee/hot chocolate vending machine. The school has many town hall meetings over the course of the year where students can address their concerns to the administration. There is also a Student Union with several representatives elected from every grade.


BHSEC extracurricular activities include student organizations and volunteer opportunities. Clubs range from BHSEC's old club: philosophy club, to the food lover's club, to the award-winning step team. A full list is below:[citation needed]


Bard High School Early College Manhattan and Queens have twelve varsity PSAL sports teams: boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, boys and girls track, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls tennis, and boys wrestling.[7] In 2009-10, BHSEC Queens won the CSAA New York City Girls' Basketball Championship, won the CSAA New York City Girls' Soccer Championship, and reached the quarterfinals in girls' volleyball. Three BHSEC Manhattan teams were playoff teams: the boys' soccer team reached the PSAL quarterfinals; the girls' soccer team attained the second round of the playoffs; and the boys' basketball team the first round. Ultimate Frisbee is another sport many BHSEC students are involved in, with the team doing fairly well each year. In Spring 2014, the Bardbarians Ultimate Frisbee team placed 2nd in New York City, led by captains Bryn Huxley-Reicher and Zane Alexander Friedkin. In Spring 2015 the Bardbarians Ultimate Frisbee team placed 3rd in New York State, led by captains Christine Dong and Nathan Shapiro.


In 2009, President Barack Obama singled out BHSEC as the model for the future in his Centennial Speech to the NAACP:

We should also explore innovative approaches being pursued here in New York City; innovations like Bard High School Early College and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School that are challenging students to complete high school and earn a free associate degree or college credit in just four years.[8]

BHSEC Queens[edit]

The BHSEC Queens campus, located in Long Island City, opened in 2008 and houses around 600 students. Academics at the school are rigorous, and regulations strict. BHSEC Queens Year I and Year II students are the only ones permitted to leave campus during the school day, causing uprise from lower classmen that want to go to the area's eateries for lunch. The hallway tables and chairs were taken away in April 2015 by order of the FDNY, but the administration worked to get them back for the students by September of the same year. Additionally, students have strong feelings towards issues that plague the country today, and the administration has responded in a way that encourages students to act strongly, and even permitted a walkout following a series of mistrials and Not Guilty sentences in matters of police overreach.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BHSEC Manhattan". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  2. ^ "Observer Scooter Education 2012". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived April 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Bard HS Early College M - Home". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  5. ^ [2] Archived November 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  7. ^ "School Profile". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  8. ^ "Obama's Speech Highlights Education and Economy". WNYC. 2009-07-17. Archived from the original on 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 

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