Our School

Bard Early College (BEC) seeks to improve the transition from high school to college and increase access and success in higher education. We do this by offering high school-age students, particularly those from low-income and historically underrepresented communities, a tuition-free college program of study in the liberal arts and sciences, and by working to influence and lead a national movement for early college education focused on quality and equity.

As a campus of BEC, Bard Early College New Orleans (BECNO) is a tuition-free satellite campus of Bard College, a nonprofit liberal arts college based in Annandale, NY, defined by academic quality, innovation, and its public service commitment. BECNO seeks to inspire curiosity, a love of learning, and civic engagement in its students; equip and empower students to access and complete higher education; and prepare its graduates for a range of educational, professional, and civic pathways. BECNO was established in 2011 as one of the first public early college high schools in the country and is operated through a partnership between Bard College, local high schools, and the Louisiana Department of Education.  

BECNO runs a half-day college campus in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education, enrolling over 100 students from public high schools across New Orleans, and a full-day, degree-granting program in partnership with KIPP New Orleans.  

This alternative to the traditional high school is founded on the belief that many young people are ready and eager to do serious college work at an earlier age. Based on the premise that these young adults’ ambition to learn should be taken seriously, BECNO’s two-year academic program enables students to earn a high school diploma and a tuition-free Bard College associate in arts degree and 60 transferable college credit, alongside a high school diploma, at no cost to students or their families. True to Bard’s motto, A Place to Think, Bard Early College New Orleans’ academic program emphasizes thinking through writing, discussion, and inquiry. 

Read more about our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Core Components of Our Model

  • Free college program up to an associate’s degree and 60+ credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs across the country
  • College instructors, typically with a terminal degree in the content area and trained in early college pedagogy and Bard Writing and Thinking practices, teaching all grade levels (high school and college courses)
  • A robust and engaging liberal arts and sciences curriculum developed by Bard;
  • Small, writing- and discussion-based seminar classes
  • Strong academic and socio-emotional student supports
  • Qualitative admissions process that selects students based on their motivation to participate and intellectual curiosity through an interview and faculty-designed assessment
  • Student empowerment in the classroom and school community
  • Diversity in the student body, reflecting the local region
  • Partnership with public schools and school systems that make the programs possible.
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