Bard College (Bard or the College) is a highly selective, not-for-profit, liberal arts college located ninety miles north of New York City in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Founded in 1860, Bard has grown from its small founding as St. Stephen’s College to an educational innovator with a national and international footprint. Its curriculum and programming seek to inspire curiosity and a commitment to the link between higher education and civic participation. Students pursue a rigorous course of study reflecting varied traditions of scholarship, critical inquiry, and original research.
Bard’s approach to learning focuses on the individual, primarily through small group seminars and reflected in a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Faculty maintain productive research pursuits and classroom excellence, as evident in Bard regularly taking top rankings for classroom experience.
Bard’s reach goes well beyond its main Hudson Valley campus and is summarized in its commitment as “a private institution in the public interest.” Bard acts at the intersection of education and civil society. Through its undergraduate college, distinctive graduate programs, its commitment to the fine and performing arts, and its network of international dual-degree partnerships, public early colleges, prison education initiatives, and civic engagement program, Bard offers unique opportunities for students and faculty to study, experience, and realize the principle that higher education can and should operate in the public interest.
Founded as St. Stephen’s College in 1860 to train men for the clergy, the college merged
with Columbia in 1928 and was renamed “Bard College” in honor of its founder, John Bard.
The College split with Columbia in 1948 after its decision to admit women, which Columbia viewed as a conflict due to Columbia’s ownership of Barnard. In 1979, Bard assumed control and ownership of Simon’s Rock Early College (now called Bard College at Simon’s Rock) (Simon’s Rock),
a standalone subsidiary of Bard that is located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The acquisition of Simon’s Rock brought an institutional focus on delivering rigorous education to younger students, which was the genesis of Bard’s national Early College network, which now offers college to high school aged students in seven cities.
Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bard established a series of international Honors Colleges that offer dual degrees in areas where liberal arts education is a rarity. The national and international efforts of the institution have expanded both its donor base and recruitment pool, allowing Bard to grow in ways not typically observed in higher education. The education model has been supported by a unique financial model in which the “living endowment” (being its Board members and key donors) have endorsed and funded its growth.
In 2011, Bard acquired two unique institutions: the Longy School of Music (Longy), (a subsidiary of Bard) a conservatory flanked by Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the European College of Liberal Arts, (Bard College Berlin), a university in Berlin, Germany. As part of its Berlin operation, Bard acquired Bard Real Estate GmbH, a German entity holding title to many of Bard College Berlin’s land and buildings. Bard College Berlin and Bard Real Estate GmbH are both subsidiaries of Bard.
During the year ended June 30, 2019, the College formed a limited liability company,
Bard Berlin RE, (LLC) to enter into a joint-venture with a New York City based development firm with experience building student housing abroad, including in Berlin. The expressed aim of the partnership, of which Bard maintains majority ownership interest, was to build apartment housing on the campus of Bard College Berlin. The building commenced operation as residencies in Fall 2021. The joint-venture and related corporate entities are subject to the same budget oversight as all divisions at the college.
Serving over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students on its main campus on the Hudson River, Bard currently enrolls over 6,500 degree candidates through its broader network, including its public and international programs. This network has grown in ways that expand the reach, mission, and pipeline for the college, both for students and donors.