New partnership offers students opportunity to earn AA degree tuition free


Good news for parents who seek to save thousands in higher education expenses and help for students looking to jump-start their college studies. This fall, Bard High School Early College (BHSEC), will offer city high school students the opportunity to enroll in a tuition free college course of study that makes it possible to earn both a high school diploma and an associate in arts degree upon completion of the twelfth grade.

This innovative collaboration between Baltimore City Public Schools and BHSEC was formed based upon the belief that “intellectually curious high school–age students, irrespective of background, are ready and eager to do serious college work, that their ambition should be taken seriously, and that a liberal arts education can effectively engage them and prepare them to excel as the next generation of leaders.”

All eigth through tenth grade students living in Baltimore City may apply. Students accepted into the program will benefit from Bard College’s 13 years of experience running successful early colleges. Their junior and senior years of high school will be spent taking college classes. The college courses are free. Successful students will have as many as 60 transferable college credits, a savings of thousands of dollars in freshman and sophomore year costs.

Bard College joined the early college movement in 1979, when it merged with Simon’s Rock— the nation’s first private, residential college offering a liberal arts and sciences degree program designed for students of high school age. In 2001, the leadership of Bard College partnered with the New York City Department of Education to create the first public Bard High School Early College. Since that time, Bard has built a record of success running early college programs in Ohio, New York, Louisiana and New Jersey.

Core Principals

•Inspire and prepare high school-age students to become leaders across fields through a rigorous course of study that emphasizes critical thinking, writing, inquiry and discourse.

•Increase college access, affordability, and completion for adolescents by allowing them to earn up to two years of tuition-free, transferable Bard College credits and an associate’s degree.

•Bridge the gap between high school and college by bringing the key characteristics of liberal arts college classrooms to public school settings.

Program Overview

•The Curriculum: Bard Early College offers high school courses and core and elective college courses across the liberal arts and sciences, providing students with a strong general education foundation. Courses are small, writing, inquiry and discussion-based seminar classes that help students develop the writing, communication, and analytical and problem-solving skills necessary for success in college and beyond. Bard Early College’s college curriculum is modeled on that of Bard College, including the four-semester Great Books seminar sequence and “Writing and Thinking” workshops that start the academic year.

•Faculty: Bard Early College students are taught by college professors— faculty with terminal degrees in their fields of study— throughout their Bard Early College education. These professors are experts in their fields and active scholars who inspire students through their passion for their subjects. Bard Early College offers students great access to professors, both in and outside of the classroom.

•Student Supports: Bard Early College students receive a number of individualized supports to ensure their smooth transition from high school to college, at Bard Early College and beyond. Support services include faculty office hours, an advisory program, the Learning Commons, which offers professional and peer tutoring a college skills course, and college counseling services to help students transfer their college credits and find a B.A.-granting college that meets their needs.

•College Acceptances and Graduation Rates: More than 95 percent of Bard High School Early College students matriculate to a four-year college after graduating from the early college program, and more than 90 percent of matriculating students complete their bachelor’s degrees. Students can transfer their credits from the early college program to a four-year institution, reducing the time to degree completion. In recent classes, more than a third of students have finished their bachelor’s degrees within three years.

BHSEC Baltimore is currently accepting applications from rising ninth grade and 11th grade students in Baltimore City. The application includes an individual interview and an academic assessment. BHSEC seeks students who demonstrate academic ambition and intellectual curiosity.

To apply, register for an admission session by email: or call 410-941-0189.