|Motto||Dabo tibi coronam vitae (I shall give thee the crown of life)|
|Type||Private, liberal arts college|
|Location||Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, U.S.|
|Campus||Rural, 600 acres|
Bard has a 600-acre (2.4-km²) campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, near the town of Red Hook, overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, within the Hudson River Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson has no downtown center and consists of the college and nine other non-associated houses. The village is neighbored by the villages of Red Hook and Tivoli, and is across the Hudson River from the small cities of Kingston and Saugerties. Shuttles run between the college and the two villages.
The college was originally founded under the name St. Stephen's, in association with the Episcopal church of New York City, and changed its name to Bard in 1934 in honor of its founder, John Bard. While the college remains affiliated with the church, it pursues a far more secular mission today. Between 1928 and 1944, Bard/St. Stephen's operated as an undergraduate school of Columbia University. Bard/St. Stephen's ties with Columbia were severed when Bard became a fully coeducational college.
By the 1930s, Bard had become atypical among US colleges in that it had begun to place a heavy academic emphasis on the performing and fine arts. During that time, a substantive examination period was introduced for students in their second year, as well as what the dean at the time called the "final demonstration." These two periods would come to be known as Moderation and Senior Project, respectively (see below).
During the 1940s, Bard provided a haven for intellectual refugees fleeing Europe. These included Hannah Arendt, the political theorist, Stefan Hirsch, the precisionist painter; Felix Hirsch, the political editor of the Berliner Tageblatt; the violinist Emil Hauser; the noted psychologist Werner Wolff; and the philosopher Heinrich Blücher.
In 1975, after serving as the youngest college president in history at Franconia College, Leon Botstein was elected president of Bard. He is generally credited with reviving the academic and cultural prestige of the College, having overseen the acquisition of Bard College at Simon's Rock, the construction of a Frank Gehry-designed performing arts center, and the creation of a large number of other associated academic institutions.
For the class of 2012, 25% of applicants were accepted, while the median SAT and ACT scores for matriculating students were 1330 (math plus verbal) and 30, respectively. Fifty-four percent of matriculating students ranked in the top 10% of their high school class out of 44% of students who reported their ranking. The Princeton Review rated Bard a 96 out of 99 in its selectivity rating, and US News & World Report categorized Bard as "most selective." The class of 2011 represent 38 states and 46 different countries.
Bard has developed several innovative graduate programs and research institutes, including the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, the Levy Economics Institute, the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, the ICP-Bard Program in Advanced Photographic Studies in Manhattan, the Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT), the Bard College Clemente Program, and the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. The college's Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, and was completed in the spring of 2003.
The Bard Prison Initiative provides a liberal arts degree to incarcerated individuals in five different prisons in New York State, and currently enrolls nearly 200 students.  Since federal funding for prison education programs was eliminated in 1994, the BPI is one of the only programs in the country of its kind.
Bard College is also affiliated with Bard College at Simon's Rock, the nation's oldest and most prestigious early college entrance program, Bard High School Early College in New York City, as well as Bard Center for Environmental Policy. Bard also helped construct a curriculum for Smolny College, Russia's first liberal arts college, with St. Petersburg State University. Additionally, the college hosts the Bard Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) Program in New York City, which is focused on the specialized study of human rights law, international relations ethics, civil society, humanitarian action, and global political economy. Students attend seminar classes in the evenings and work at a substantive international affairs internship during the day. BGIA publishes BardPolitik, a semiannual international affairs journal featuring contributions for students and academics.
In February 2009, Bard announced the first dual degree program between a Palestinian university and an American institution of higher education. The College entered into a collaboration with Al-Quds University involving an honors college, a masters program in teaching and a model high school.
Recently, Bard College acquired, on permanent loan, art collector Marieluise Hessel's substantial collection of important contemporary artwork. Hessel also contributed $8 million (USD) for the construction of a new wing at Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies building, in which the collection is exhibited.
Over 80 student clubs are financed through Bard's Convocation Fund, which is distributed once a semester by an elected student body and ratified during a rowdy public forum in the dining commons.
Bard students have one newspaper, the Bard Free Press, which won Best Campus Publication in SPIN Magazine's first annual Campus Awards in 2003.  Literary magazines include the semiannual Luxe, the annual Bard Papers, The Moderator, and Sui Generis, a journal of translations and of original poetry in languages other than English. The Bard Journal of the Social Sciences, which publishes undergraduate work, is also produced by students on campus.
Other prominent student groups include the International Students Organization and other cultural organizations, KLOUDS (Kids Laying Out Under Daytime Skys), High Tea, the Bard Film Committee, the Bard Queer-Straight Alliance, the Bard Democrats, Surrealist Training Circus, Student-run Bike Coop and college radio station WXBC.
Bard is also home to the Root Cellar, a completely student-run, multipurpose space that serves as an Infoshop, vegan café, and venue for small-scale shows. It houses an extensive zine library, which once was touted as "the largest zine library on the East Coast." While technically defined as a club by the Office of Student Activities, the "club heads" of the Root Cellar hold no more power than any other students involved, and decisions are made by consensus at weekly meetings. Thus, the space is a haven for radical political action and education, and an outlook much like that of ABC No Rio or Bluestockings bookstore in New York City. In addition, the Root Cellar was formerly the meeting place of SAC, Bard's now defunct Student Action Collective.
The Bard Athletics department offers varsity sports in basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse and squash (men), and joined the Skyline Conference, effective 2007-2008. Bard has announced that it will join the Liberty League starting with the 2011-2012 academic year. One of the more popular sports on campus is rugby. In the spring of 2006, Bard Women's Rugby joined the men's side, Bard Rugby Football Club, as an official team. The men's basketball team gained some notoriety when they were beaten by Caltech in 2007; it was Caltech's first win against an NCAA Division III opponent since 1996, and stopped a streak of 207 consecutive losses. Bard player Michael Mandlin was named Division III Player of the Year by the multicampus publication The Outside World. 
Bard has a strong independent music scene considering its isolation and size. The college's Old Gym was once a popular location for concerts and parties in the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. In 2004, the Old Gym was shut down and in spring 2006 transformed into a student-run theater. Many activities that once took place there now occur in the smaller SMOG building, an autonomous student space. Student-run theater is also popular: dozens of student directed and written productions are put on each semester and a 24 Hour Theater Festival is held at least once a year.
Currently, most on-campus parties are held in the dining commons or at Ward Manor, a 19th century Hudson mansion now used as a dormitory. Furthermore, a social scene for students can be found in the nearby villages of Tivoli and Red Hook.
All first-year students must attend the Language and Thinking (L&T) program, an intensive, writing-centered introduction to the liberal arts, for the three weeks preceding their first semester. Orientation also takes place during this time.
As first-years, all students take the "First-Year Seminar", which begins in the fall, and spans thinkers from Confucius to Galileo. The course ends in the spring, spanning William Blake to Karl Marx. There are nearly thirty sections of the course each semester, taught by a wide variety of professors, including President Botstein and other members of the administration.
Another mandatory process of the university is "moderation". Moderation typically takes place in the fourth or fifth semester, as a way of choosing a major. Conditions vary from department to department: all require the preparation of two short papers, one on the moderand's past work in the major subject and one on their plans for the future; most require the completion of a certain set or a certain number of courses; some have additional requirements, such as a concert or recital, the submission of a seminar paper, or the production of a film. To moderate, the student presents whatever work is required to a moderation board of three professors, and is subsequently interviewed, examined, and critiqued.
The "capstone" of the Bard undergraduate experience is the Senior Project. As with moderation, this project takes different forms in different departments. Most students in the divisions of Languages and Literature and of Social Sciences write a paper of around eighty pages, which is then, as with work for moderation, critiqued by a board of three professors. Arts students must organize a series of concerts, recitals, or shows, or produce substantial creative work; math and science students, as well as some social science students, undertake research projects.
The college also offers graduate degrees at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan, the Center for Curatorial Studies, the Conductor's Institute, the International Center of Photography (also in Manhattan), the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, and in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program.
Bard is widely regarded as one of the most left-leaning colleges in the country. In 2005, the Princeton Review ranked it as the second-most liberal college in the United States, declaring that Bard "puts the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts.'"
In 2003, Bard Professor Joel Kovel drew criticism from controversial conservative columnist Ann Coulter for his book, Red Hunting in the Promised Land: Anticommunism and the Making of America, in which he compared anti-communism to a psychiatric disorder. Coulter accused Kovel of holding a "lunatic psychological theory" and counted Bard among the colleges and universities that "have become a Safe Streets program for traitors and lunatics." In February 2009, Kovel accused the Bard administration of terminating his position as professor at Bard in retaliation for his anti-Zionist political views.. Bard has similarly terminated professors deemed controversial in the past, such as Jonathan Brockopp who was recommended for tenure by the faculty but denied by the president.