Brooklyn Public Library and Bard College to Offer Free College Degree Programs in 2018

The first cohort of students will begin classes at the Central Library in Prospect Heights next January (Photo by Park Slope Stoop)

A new initiative between Bard College and the Brooklyn Public library aims to help nontraditional students earn college degrees—for free!

The “microcollege” program will meet students at the library this winter, bringing a fully-accredited Associate in Arts program to those who face the highest barriers to college education.

“By combining the deep experience and diverse resources of both Bard and Brooklyn Public Library, we can provide people who have previously been discouraged or excluded from higher education access to top-tier college-level liberal arts courses on a campus in the heart of Brooklyn,” said Linda Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.

Lacking a college degree is traditionally one of the biggest barriers to economic mobility, so the program will even provide concurrent classes for the children of attendees, hoping to address some of the obstacles that prevent enrollment.

While many lower-income students are targeted for vocational program, this liberal arts program will instead dive into the literary canon, employing Bard professors and the resources of the Brooklyn Public Library to teach students.

Admissions will take place in-person at Brooklyn libraries throughout November and students don’t need standardized test scores or transcripts to apply. The initial cohort of 16 students will find out if they made the cut in December, then begin classes in January 2018 at the Central Library in Prospect Heights.

Potential students can apply online and find out more information via

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Paul Stremple

Paul was a staff reporter at Bklyner, responsible for covering Northern and Eastern parts of Brooklyn between August 2017 and January 2019.


  1. Good old Bard. I think this is a project whose time has come. QUESTION.
    What incentives will the Brooklyn Library receive for getting this off the
    ground? The Queens Library is always introducing partnerships when the
    economic engine in the NYC area needs a jump start. And the Queens
    Library is not losing its vision for it. One day I would ask them myself
    if I had a Brooklyn Library card.

  2. Thank you for posting this piece. I would be very interested in learning more about similar opportunities across the US and Canada — especially long-distance education, since I am mobility-impaired.

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