Frequently Asked Questions

*For FAQs about our doctoral program, please see here.

What degrees are offered at the BGC?

We offer programs leading to MA and PhD degrees in the history of the decorative arts, design history, and material culture. Students are able to explore the cultural history of the material world in a wide range of courses and methodological approaches. We offer a general concentration for the MA degree, as well as the possibility of specializing in course work areas such as New York and American material culture, modern design history, early modern Europe, history and theory of museums, comparative medieval material culture (China, Islam, Europe), archaeology, anthropology, and material culture. All students must take a one-year survey course, a one semester course that focuses on methods and approaches, two courses that concentrate on work before 1800, and one non-Western course. Every student must submit a Qualifying Paper. Doctoral students follow a one- or two-year program of courses, take three qualifying exams, and write a doctoral dissertation.

When is the deadline for filing an application?

The deadline is January 9, 2015 for both the master of arts program and the doctoral program for admission in the fall of 2015. There are no mid-year acceptances.

What must I submit with my application?

All applicants must submit a completed application form, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, a C.V., a sample of written scholarly work, transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education, GRE results, TOEFL scores where applicable, and a nonrefundable $70 fee . All applicants must complete an online application. Letters of recommendation and transcripts should be sent, via mail, to Dean Elena Pinto Simon, Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024.

Is the GRE required of all applicants?

Yes, all candidates must submit their GRE results. Candidates must take the GRE by December 15, 2014, and the results must arrive at the BGC by January 9, 2015. Applicants who have not submitted GRE scores cannot be scheduled for an interview. The GRE is one part of the overall qual¬ifications that are considered by the Admissions Committee. The BGC does not have a cut-off for scores; the GRE exam is one of the many ways that the committee reviews candidates. The GRE submitted may not be more than three years old. The BGC score report code number is 2020. Only official copies of the exam results will be accepted. For further information about testing, call 609-771-7670.

Is it possible for me to do my graduate degree part-time?

Yes, the BGC acknowledges that many working professionals and others in the process of changing careers might need to work on a part-time basis. This may be done at both the MA and PhD levels. However, it is not possible to complete the degree by taking only evening classes. All entering students must take one required class, the Survey of the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture, in their first year, along with the Approaches course. The Survey course is offered in the evening; the Approaches course is not. There is also a required internship for MA Students. Doctoral Students who have not had Survey (because they come from another institution) must take it - along with the Approaches course - in their first year of matriculation.

What are the language requirements?

All MA students must pass an exam in one language—French, German, Italian, or Spanish. The language examination, offered during the August Orientation Session and again in the fall, tests reading and translation skills with the use of a dictionary. All doctoral students must show proficiency in two languages, typically French, German, or Italian. The language requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the first year for MA students. Doctoral students must satisfy two language requirements by the time they have finished their coursework.

May I visit the Bard Graduate Center?

Yes, students in the area are welcome to arrange a visit and tour the facilities. It is also possible for you to meet with a faculty member or senior administrator. To arrange such a visit, call Dean Elena Pinto Simon at 212-501-3057. Prospective applicants are also welcome to join us at an open house on October 12, October 26, or November 9, 2014. To make a reservation for an open house, call 212-501-3019. Because our classes are all seminars, it is not possible to sit in on a class.

I am an international student. Am I eligible for admission to the BGC?

Yes, the BGC welcomes international applicants. All foreign students must demonstrate proficiency in English and should take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The Educational Testing Service should send TOEFL scores to the BGC. The BGC TOEFL number is 5034.  This exam must be taken by the month of December, 2014.

How does the Graduate Committee determine acceptance?

All submitted materials are carefully reviewed and after a first-round review, a number of applicants are invited to come to the BGC for an interview in person or, if necessary, by skype, with the Admissions Committee. Applicants are urged to come for their interview in person if at all possible. Applicants are usually contacted during late January to arrange an appointment. Please note that an application is considered incomplete and will not be acted upon until all materials have been received. Materials submitted are not returnable. Interviews are held in February. Notifications of acceptance go out in early March, followed, about a week later, by the financial aid offer.

What should my personal statement include?

The personal statement is an important part of the total admissions document and should be about 750 words explaining why the applicant wishes to attend the BGC and what his/her areas of special interest are. The statement should be specific, especially as to career goals.

What is an acceptable sample of written scholarly work?

The committee will consider a college research paper, published article, exhibition review, or catalogue entries. Since the BGC is a research institution and the programs are writing intensive, the academic or scholarly work submitted is a very important part of the candidate’s application. All doctoral candidates must submit either a MA thesis or a Qualifying Paper / Master’s Essay. 

What documents should be sent with my completed application?

The nonrefundable fee, in the form of a check or money order in U.S. funds ($70), made payable to the Bard Graduate Center; the personal statement; a C.V.; and a sample of written scholarly work must be posted online to the electronic application. Official transcripts, three letters of recommendation from instructors or professional colleagues, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores, where appropriate for international applicants, may be sent separately to Dean Elena Pinto Simon, Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024. All letters of recommendation must be signed across the seal and sent directly from the authors to the above address. Academic references are preferable. Copies sent by the applicant are not acceptable. All materials are needed for admissions review and must be submitted in a timely manner. The entire application must be completed by January 9, 2015.

Is there an internship program at the BGC?

All MA students are required to do an internship as part of their graduate work. The BGC has an active internship program associated with many of New York’s major cultural institutions. BGC students have done internships at more than 250 institutions in the New York area and around the world. Internships are selected by working in conjunction with the Dean of Academic Administration.

Is student housing available?

Bard Hall, located at 410 West 58th Street, provides housing for students. There is a variety of furnished studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Apartment leases usually begin in August and run through June 30. More information about housing is available  online. 

What other programs and outreach does the BGC sponsor?

The BGC has a full range of exhibitions, symposia, conferences, and guest lectures. These events run throughout the academic year and give students a broad exposure to work and professional activities in their chosen fields. There are also events in gallery education that are open to students. In addition, the travel program offers students the opportu­nity to take a course at one of our consortium schools. The BGC also has an exchange program and, each year, selects one student to attend the Royal College of Art in London and one student to attend Humboldt University in Berlin. Please contact Dean Simon for more information. 

May I begin my studies mid-year?

No, the BGC only accepts students to begin their degree work in August of each academic year.

May I just “take a class” at the BGC?

No, all students are enrolled in either the MA or PhD program, or are from one of our consortium schools; there are no continuing education classes at the BGC.

Does the Bard Graduate Center offer financial aid?

Yes, the BGC has a generous amount of aid to offer students at both MA and PhD levels. All students who wish to be considered for aid must file a FAFSA online by January 15, 2015. Aid at the BGC is based on need and merit, and scholarships range from three credits to full tuition coverage. Please direct any financial aid questions to Dean Elena Pinto Simon.

Where can I find additional information about the BGC online?

Please go to our website,, for more detailed information about our programs and deadlines or to download an application. Applicants with any questions should consult with Dean Simon directly at any point during the admissions process (

Need more help with your application?

Call admissions at the BGC at 212.501.3019 or e-mail us at For any specific questions, please call Dean Elena Pinto Simon at 212-501-3057 or e-mail her at

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