Prospective Student FAQ

BardBac Class of 2023

Who are Bard Baccalaureate students?

BardBac students are adults aged 24 and older who have had their college degree paths interrupted or put on hold for a variety of reasons: the need to work, family obligations, student loan debt, structural racism or other forms of inequity. BardBac students may have had negative experiences with college in the past, may be people who have assumed college could never be a reality in their lives, or may simply be individuals who have taken time to recognize their own intellectual ambitions. There is no one way to be a BardBac student.

What do BardBac students study?

Anything other liberal arts students study: philosophy, art history, mathematics, chemistry, sociology, literature, creative writing — the full breadth of the Bard College Catalogue is open to BardBac students.

In addition, all BardBac students take a specially designed seminar in their first semester, which replaces Bard’s traditional first-year coursework and supports the BardBac cohort as a community. The BardBac seminar is interdisciplinary, writing-intensive, and innovative — the subject matter changes every semester, depending on who’s teaching it. BardBac students also meet weekly as a group with dedicated advisors and form networks of mutual support among themselves.

Every BardBac student’s path to the BA degree is different, depending on their interests and whether or not they bring credits with them when they enroll. BardBac students work with the BardBac advisors and their individual faculty advisor to build a personalized curriculum, choosing classes from among Bard’s course offerings leading to a major field and senior project topic of their choice.

How does the BardBac fit in with Bard College as a whole?

A private institution in the public service, Bard College enrolls approximately 5,000 students in its global affiliates worldwide, including 2,000 undergraduates in Annandale, nearly 1,000 students in Bard high school/early colleges around the country, and over 400 students across the seven in-prison campuses operated by the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). In all of its programs, the college seeks to provide both a demanding academic program and a supportive environment for the exchange of ideas. Bard is fervently committed to the liberal arts and to democratizing access to them; the BardBac is an embodiment of this commitment.

What are the criteria for eligibility?

Applicants to the BardBac program must be 24 years old or older at the time of enrollment, must hold a high school diploma or equivalency (GED, HSE, HiSET, TASC), and may not hold any degree higher than the associates degree from any college or university in the U.S. or abroad. No standardized tests are required to apply. U.S. citizenship is not required to apply to the BardBac; Bard admits and supports undocumented students. All BardBac applicants are required to apply for state and federal financial aid; those whose household finances would qualify them for Pell and TAP grants will be given priority in the admissions process.

In 2024, COVID-19 vaccinations, along with all standard immunization requirements, are required by the College for all enrolling students. Students who are accepted to the BardBac will learn more about how to submit proof of vaccination documents and other Bard College COVID-19 protocols when they get their enrollment information in April 2024.

Can I transfer credits I earned at other schools?

Yes. BardBac students can transfer up to 64 credits earned at other colleges and universities. The Bard registrar assesses transfer credits on a case-by-case basis and determines which credits can be transferred towards a Bard degree. BardBac applicants are encouraged to have official transcripts from previous institutions sent to the Bard registrar as soon as possible, but official transcripts are not required in order to complete the application.

Can I apply if I've never been to college before?

Yes. BardBac students may have earned some college credits in the past, or they may never have been to college before. If you’re applying to the BardBac and you’ve never been to college before, reach out to so we can help you navigate a special version of the Common Application for First-Year Students.

Can I apply if I already earned a BA but want to earn a second?

Unfortunately, no. If you have ever earned a BA degree, even if you got it a long time ago, in a field you no longer wish to work in, or in another country, you can’t apply to the BardBac.

Can I apply to the BardBac if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. U.S. citizenship is not required to apply to the BardBac; Bard admits and supports undocumented students. Applicants who are not eligible for financial aid due to citizenship requirements will be excused from the financial aid application process.

What if I’m in default on loans I took out in the past?

We can work with that. BardBac applicants must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and the CSS Profile, even if they know these forms will show that they’re ineligible for financial aid because of loans in default.

Does the BardBac include housing?

The BardBac was originally designed for adult students living within commuting distance of the Bard campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and housing is not guaranteed. Almost all BardBac students live off-campus. However, there are a very limited number of BardBac housing scholarships that cover room-and-board costs for BardBac students to live in student housing. If you’re interested in applying for one of these scholarships, you can indicate this on your Bard Baccalaureate Scholarship Form.

Can I attend the BardBac part-time?

No, the BardBac is a full-time, in-person BA program. BardBac students enroll in at least three courses each semester on the Annandale campus.

How much does the BardBac cost?

Tuition, books and most fees for the BardBac are covered by scholarships and grants that do not have to be paid back, including federal Pell and New York State TAP grants for those students who are eligible for them. BardBac students may also take out federal direct student loans to cover living expenses while they are enrolled, if they choose to take them. All BardBac students are responsible for showing proof of health insurance or buying health insurance through the college, a fee not covered by the scholarship. The BardBac scholarship also does not cover additional individual fees, such as parking, equipment rental, music lesson fees, and studio arts supply fees.

Is enrolling in the BardBac the only way for adult students to attend Bard College?

No, the BardBac is not the only pathway to a degree Bard offers to adult students. Adult applicants who have earned at least one semester’s worth of transferable college credits (12 or more transferable credits from a previous higher education program) may apply to the Bard Return to College Program (RCP) as transfer students. Entering the college that way, they are not required to take the two-semester BardBac seminar, nor do they benefit from the larger BardBac community support. RCP students are eligible for financial aid, but it is not guaranteed. If you apply but are not offered admission to the BardBac, you may be offered admission to Bard College through RCP.