Academics

Bard Early College New Orleans’ academic objective is to provide an intellectually challenging and inspiring academic program for students and enable them to take college courses in the 11th and 12th grades, free of charge. The BECNO program provides a seamless transition for students from middle school to high school to college and results in college readiness and the opportunity for students to complete up to 60 transferable college credits and an associate in arts degree from Bard College, while simultaneously fulfilling requirements in the State of Louisiana for a high school diploma. 

What we hope to teach our students:

  • An understanding of the scientific method — its approaches to inquiry, its strengths and limitations as a mode of analysis, and a basic comprehension of the fundamental laws governing both physical phenomena and human behavior;
  • An appreciation of several forms of artistic and literary expression, the creative process, and the disciplined use of imagination, formal structure, and aesthetic values;
  • A flexibility of thought that allows for creative problem solving through an integration of quantitative and qualitative techniques;
  • Knowledge of some of the most influential works of Western culture and critical understanding of the values, assumptions, ideologies that they express;
  • Knowledge and appreciation of modes of thought of other cultures — including non—Western cultures, and groups or societies that exist as distinct subcultures within Western culture;
  • A sense of history — ideas, movements, peoples, and events of the past — and an understanding of how our view of the past is shaped, and shapes our understanding of the present and future; and
  • Sensitivity to the moral and ethical dimensions of thought and action, and developing the ability to make informed moral and ethical decisions.
Photo of student raising hand in class

BECNO has two options for students: In our traditional program, students from our partner schools across the city join our college courses in the afternoons, enrolling in up to three courses a semester. In our full-day, degree-granting program, students take a college course of study in place of the 11th and12th grades. Students have the opportunity to earn an Associate Degree in the Liberal Arts, while completing the requirements toward the Louisiana High School Diploma. All classes are taught by college faculty who are active and accomplished in their fields. Classes are inquiry- and discussion-based, encouraging active engagement with professors and peers.

Requirements for the Associate in Arts Degree

Students must earn 60 college credits with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 during the two years in the college program; they must also fulfill the following distribution requirements and complete all high school diploma requirements in order to receive the Bard Associate of Arts Degree:

A core component of our academic model is Bard Writing and Thinking pedagogy, designed by the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking, which infuses the Bard Early College classroom. Every fall semester at Bard Early College begins with The Writing & Thinking Workshop, a multi-day intensive learning experience that provides students in every grade level with interesting exercises in critical reading and writing upon which they can build in their regular courses. Based on the principle that strong writing and close reading enrich and enliven the classroom experience in all disciplines, the workshop sets the stage for the kind of interdisciplinary, intensive, writing work students will engage with during their time at BECNO. 

Faculty members across disciplines include W&T in their classrooms, using short writing and critical reading exercises, including “focused free writes,” “text explosions,” “believing and doubting” exercises, and accompanying group discussions about the texts at hand to facilitate dialogue and as a tool for reflection, skill assessment, and continued development. Most importantly, Writing and Thinking pedagogy helps students learn how to use writing as a powerful tool for developing their thinking and voice.

The Seminar Sequence, modeled on Bard College’s signature humanities course, First Year Seminar, is a core interdisciplinary experience in the Bard Early College Program.

Click here to view BECNO’s course catalogue, and click here for an archive of course syllabi.