Bard Graduate Center is the home for advanced study of the cultural history of the material world. We offer the MA and PhD degrees in Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. Admission for the two programs is separate.

The application to Bard Graduate Center can be found online. The application deadline for admission to both the MA and PhD programs for the 2018–19 academic year is January 5, 2018. Applicants to the MA program must have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. There are no restrictions as to the applicant’s prior field of study, but some previous study, training, or work experience in the history of art, architecture, decorative arts, history, material culture studies, archaeology, or anthropology is expected. Some preparation in art history is encouraged but not required.

Applicants to the doctoral program are required to hold an MA in either the decorative arts or a related field, such as art history, history, cultural or museum anthropology, archaeology, or cultural studies. Students entering the program with an MA from another institution are required to take additional courses as part of their program of study for candidacy for the PhD. Students who have completed the MA program at Bard Graduate Center and who wish to continue study toward the PhD must make a separate application to the doctoral program.

After prescreening by a faculty committee, a number of applicants are invited to an interview with the Admissions Committee. All applicants must be able to communicate effectively in written and spoken English. Students are strongly encouraged to interview in person, if possible. Students with deficiencies are expected to rectify them prior to admission to the program. Some students may be able to correct them during the first academic year, but such work is not granted credit.

How to Apply

Apply to our MA or PhD programs.

All correspondence should be addressed to:

Admissions, Attn: MA or PhD Program
Bard Graduate Center
38 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024

If you have further questions, please contact Keith Condon at keith.condon@bgc.bard.edu or by telephone at 212.501.3056.

The following should be submitted via the online application:

  1. A nonrefundable application fee of $70, which is payable online with the actual application submission.
  2. A personal statement of approximately 750 words explaining why the applicant has chosen the decorative arts, design history, and material culture as a field of graduate study. The statement should be specific, especially as to career goals. This should be uploaded to the online application.
  3. Three letters of recommendation from instructors or professional colleagues. These can also be sent separately via mail, if preferred. If so, the letters should be addressed to Admissions, signed across the seal, and sent directly by the authors. Copies sent by the applicant will not be accepted.
  4. A sample of written scholarly work (e.g., a college research paper, published article, or extended catalogue entry). Applicants to the doctoral program must submit a copy of a Master’s Thesis or a Qualifying Paper. This writing sample should be a research paper, academic in form and tone, that exemplifies your best scholarly work. Please include illustrations if relevant. Students who do not have a term paper to submit should consult the Academic Programs Office about the kind of work that is appropriate. This is not returnable and should also be uploaded to the application online, or, if you prefer, you may send it separately, with a clear indication of your name included.
  5. A CV outlining the applicant’s education, current and previous employment, and experience, if any, in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture. This should be uploaded to the online application.

The following should be sent separately:

  1. Official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended. Please note that copies are considered official only if they are sent directly to us from the issuing institution. Unofficial transcript copies sent by the applicant will not be accepted.
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score report, sent by the Educational Testing Service at the applicant’s request. The applicant is required to take the General Test. Our score report code number is 2020. Only official copies will be accepted. For information, call 609.771.7670. All applicants must take the GRE by December 15, 2016. The GRE submitted for admission consideration must not be more than three years old. Applications without GRE scores will make the applicant ineligible for interview consideration.
  3. International applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English and should take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). TOEFL scores should be sent by the Educational Testing Service. Other evidence of English proficiency will be accepted only with the approval of the Graduate Committee. Our TOEFL number is 5034. We must have these results by the application deadline date.

All application materials submitted become the property of Bard Graduate Center.

Potential applicants are encouraged to attend an open house during the fall term to meet with faculty, staff, and students and to learn more about our programs. We welcome questions about the program and about the admission process. If you have further questions, please contact Keith Condon at keith.condon@bgc.bard.edu or by telephone at 212.501.3056.

Deadline for all applications: January 5, 2018.

Please note: An application is considered incomplete and will not be acted upon until all materials listed above have been received.

Tuition and Fees: MA Program
Tuition for 2017–18 is $1,395 per credit. A student enrolled full-time in the MA program normally takes 27 credits in the first year (including the August orientation session, fall term, spring term, and Internship) and 21 credits in the second year (fall and spring terms). The number of credits for part-time students varies according to their schedules; however, part-time students must enroll for a minimum of 6 credits each fall and spring term. Tuition and fees for a typical program of study for a full-time MA program student entering in the fall of 2017 are as follows:

Year 1: 2017–18

April 1, 2017

  • New students’ nonrefundable tuition deposit $500

June 15, 2017

  • Orientation and fall term tuition (12 credits) $16,740
  • Health insurance fee $2,720
  • Registration/library fee $250

Dec. 1, 2017

  • Spring term and Internship tuition (15 credits) $20,925
  • Registration/library fee $250


Year 2: 2018–19

July 1, 2018

  • Fall term tuition (12 credits) $16,740
  • Health insurance fee $2,720
  • Registration/library fee $250

Dec. 1, 2018

  • Spring term tuition (9 credits) $12,555
  • Registration/library fee $250

April 2019

  • Graduation fee $120


Totals

  • 5 terms, 48 credits in 2 years, $73,520

All numbers are based on 2017–18 rates and are subject to change in subsequent years. The deposit is credited in the fall term. Health insurance fees are accurate at time of printing and subject to change.

Tuition and Fees: PhD Program
Students who received an MA from Bard Graduate Center follow the 27 credit track. All other doctoral students follow the 51 credit track.

For students required to complete 27 credits:

Tuition for 2017–1 is $1,395 per credit. In the second year of the program and after completion of qualifying exams, the student must register for the doctoral dissertation, for 6 credits. Tuition for dissertation registration is $4,500. Tuition and fees for a typical program of study for a full-time PhD student entering in the fall of 2017 are as follows.

Year 1: 2017–18 (coursework and exams)

April 1, 2017

  • New students’ nonrefundable tuition deposit $500

June 15, 2017

  • Fall term tuition (12 credits) $16,740
  • Health insurance fee $2,720
  • Registration/library fee $250

December 1, 2017

  • Spring term tuition (9 credits) $12,555
  • Registration/library fee $250

Year 2: 2018–19 (propose dissertation)

June 15, 2018

  • Fall term tuition (6 credits) $4,500
  • Registration/library fee (2 semesters) $500

Year 3: 2019–20

June 15, 2019

  • Registration/library fee (2 semesters) $500

Year 4: 2020–21

July 1, 2020

  • Registration/library fee (2 semesters) $500

April 1, 2021

  • Graduation fee $120

For students required to complete 51 credits:

Tuition for 2017–18 is $1,395 per credit. In the third year of the program and after completion of qualifying exams, the student must register for the doctoral dissertation for 6 credits. Tuition for the dissertation registration is $4,500. Tuition and fees for a typical program of study for a full-time PhD student entering in the fall of 2017 are as follows.

Year 1: 2017–18 (coursework)

April 1, 2017

  • New students’ nonrefundable tuition deposit $500

June 15, 2017

  • Fall term tuition (12 credits) $16,740
  • Health insurance fee $2,720
  • Registration/library fee $250

December 1, 2017

  • Spring term tuition (12 credits) $16,740
  • Registration/library fee $250

Year 2: 2018–19 (coursework and exams)

June 15, 2018

  • Fall term tuition (12 credits) $16,740
  • Health insurance fee $2,720
  • Registration/library fee $250

December 1, 2018

  • Spring term tuition (9 credits) $12,555
  • Registration/library fee $250

Year 3: 2019–20 (propose dissertation)

June 15, 2019

  • Fall term tuition (6 credits) $4,500
  • Registration/library fee (2 semesters) $500

Year 4: 2020–21

June 15, 2020

  • Registration/library fee (2 semesters) $500

Year 5: 2021–22

June 15, 2021

  • Registration/library fee (2 semesters) $500

April 1, 2022

  • Graduation fee $120

All numbers are based on 2017–18 rates and are subject to change in subsequent years. The deposit is credited in the fall term. Health insurance fees are accurate at time of printing and subject to change. For doctoral students, it is expected that the dissertation will be completed and defended by the end of the student’s fourth/fifth year in the program.

Student Housing


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Bard Hall, located at 410 West 58th Street, provides housing for students, faculty, and visiting scholars. Nine residential floors offer a variety of furnished studios and one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchens and baths for students; as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments for faculty and guest scholars. The building is equipped with 24-hour security, a double-height lounge that opens onto a landscaped outdoor space, an exercise room, conference and study rooms, and laundry facilities. Apartments are equipped for phone, cable TV, and Internet connections.

Student apartments are furnished and, depending on size and design, contain a daybed/sofa, small dining table and chairs, desk, bookcase, twin or full-size bed, and chest of drawers. Residents must be enrolled for a minimum of nine credits each semester in order to remain eligible for housing. The costs of the units for a twelve-month term are as follows:

  • Studio Unit: $17,900
  • One-bedroom Unit: $21,458
  • Two-Bedroom Unit: $17,724 (per student)
Costs are accurate as of press time and are subject to change.

Students are billed for housing in the fall and spring semesters of each academic year, to coincide with tuition billing. All apartments are assigned by lottery. Applications are mailed in early April and must be returned by the deadline indicated, accompanied by a $100 nonrefundable application fee. Students are required to pay a $500 damage deposit upon contract; the damage deposit will be returned upon departure and after satisfactory inspection of the apartment.

The Bard Hall handbook, available from the Academic Programs Office, outlines policies and guidelines for residency. Bard Hall is a nonsmoking residence, and, for general health reasons, student residents are not permitted to keep pets.

Scholarships and Fellowships
Bard Graduate Center is committed to assisting students whose personal resources would not otherwise allow them to continue their education at the graduate level. Institutional aid is available in the form of scholarships, fellowships, and campus employment. For the MA program, we typically award scholarships and fellowships of varying amounts to more than half of the incoming class.

Financial aid is awarded annually on the basis of achievement and promise and on demonstrated financial need, and is awarded without regard to gender, sexual orientation, race, color, age, marital status, religion, ethnic or national origin, or handicapping conditions. There is no special application for institutional aid, but *all* students who wish to be considered must complete a FAFSA by January 15. Bard Graduate Center’s FAFSA number is 002671. International applicants who wish to be considered for aid must complete the College Board International Student Financial Aid by January 15.

For the MA program, aid is available for full-time students for two years only. Financial aid packages are renewed at the end of the first year after a review.

Administrative Calendar

January 5, 2018: MA and PhD applications due
January 15: FAFSA applications due
March 1: Notification of admission begins
March 15: Notification of financial aid awards to incoming students begins
April 1: Entering students’ $500 deposit due
June 15: Tuition and fees for the fall semester due
December 1, 2018: Tuition and fees for the spring semester due
International Applicants
Bard Graduate Center is an international community and we welcome applicants from around the world. The additional application requirements for those from outside of the United States are:
  • International applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) by January 5, 2018. Our TOEFL number is 5034.
  • Applicants in need of a visa must submit proof that income from all sources is sufficient to cover expenses during the period of residency in the United States. To this end, international applicants must complete a Certification of Finances. Evidence of financial responsibility must be demonstrated by one of the following: affidavit from a bank, certification by parents or sponsors of their ability to provide the necessary funds, or certification by employers of anticipated income. Detailed information will be sent upon acceptance into the program.
Open Houses and Campus Visits

One of the best ways to learn more about Bard Graduate Center is to visit! Each fall, members of the faculty host open houses for prospective students where you have an opportunity to meet faculty, hear much more about our program, and tour our buildings. You will also have the chance to have your questions about admissions and financial aid answered.

Our open houses are held at 38 West 86th Street. In fall 2017, we held three open houses at our building in Manhattan on October 15, 29, and November 6. Tours of our building may also be arranged at other times. Email admissions@bgc.bard.edu for more information.

In addition to open houses, we regularly do a number of campus visits across the country during the fall. And in early spring of each year we host an Accepted Students Day, when prospective students have the chance to meet faculty and students and to attend classes and special lecture events.

Frequently Asked Questions

For FAQs about our doctoral program, please see here.

What degree programs are offered?
We offer the MA and PhD in Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. Students are able to explore the cultural history of the material world in a wide range of courses and methodological approaches. The MA program is a two-year general concentration consisting of coursework, an internship, and a qualifying paper. The PhD program is four to five years and includes coursework, three field exams, and a dissertation.

When are applications due?
The deadline for both the MA and PhD program is January 5, 2018 for admission in the fall of 2018. The application is available here.

Is it possible to do a program part-time?
Yes, and this may be done at both the MA and PhD levels. However, part-time students are not eligible for financial aid.

May I just “take a class”?
No. All students must be enrolled in either the MA or PhD program.

What are the language requirements?
All MA students must pass an exam in one language—French, German, Italian, or Spanish. The exam tests reading and translation skills with the use of a dictionary. The language requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the first year for MA students. Doctoral students must show proficiency in two languages, typically French, German, Italian, or Spanish. Doctoral students must fulfill this requirement by the time they have finished their coursework.

Is the GRE required?
Yes, all applicants must take the GRE by January 5, 2018. Applicants who have previously taken the GRE may submit scores that are up to three years old. Bard Graduate Center’s score report code number is 2020. It is important to note that the GRE is but one part of the overall qualifications that are considered by the Admissions Committee.

Are there required courses?
MA students must take Survey of the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture, which is a two-part, year-long course, and Approaches to the Object, which is held in the fall semester of the first year and is a methodologies course. MA students must further satisfy a distribution requirement of two courses designated pre-1800 and one designated non-Western. MA students must also complete a three-credit internship. Incoming PhD students are also expected to take both the Survey and Approaches course.

Are there any additional requirements for international applicants?
All foreign applicants 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 by January 5, 2018. Our TOEFL number is 5034.

What must I submit with my application?
All applicants must submit a completed application, a personal statement, a writing sample of scholarly work, three letters of recommendation, a CV, transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education, GRE results, TOEFL scores where applicable, and a $70 fee. Letters of recommendation may be completed online or sent directly via regular mail. Official transcripts may be emailed by the institution to admissions@bgc.bard.edu or sent via regular mail. Correspondence should be addressed to Admissions, MA or PhD Program, Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024.

What should my personal statement include?
The personal statement is an important part of the admissions decision and should be about 750 words explaining why the applicant wishes to attend Bard Graduate Center 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. Please include illustrations if relevant. The specific topic of your writing sample is less important than its ability to represent your best scholarly and academic work. Since this is a research institution and the programs are writing intensive, this sample is a very important part of your application. All doctoral candidates must submit either a MA Thesis or a Qualifying Paper / Master’s Essay.

How does the Graduate Admissions Committee determine acceptance and when can I expect to hear?
After a careful first-round review, a select number of applicants are invited to an interview with the Admissions Committee. After the interview process is complete, the admissions committee will make their final decisions based on the applications and the interviews. Applicants are usually invited to interview in late January and the interviews are usually held in mid-February. Final decisions go out in early March, followed, about a week later, by financial aid offers.

Does Bard Graduate Center offer financial aid?
Yes. There is a generous amount of aid available to students at both the MA and PhD levels. All students who wish to be considered for aid must file a FAFSA online by January 15, 2018. International applicants must complete the College Board International Student Financial Aid Application. Aid is based on need and merit, and scholarships range from three credits to full tuition coverage.

Is there campus employment and what kinds of work opportunities are there for students?
Most students receive a campus employment amount as part of their financial aid package, and students may work up to 8 hours a week on campus. There are jobs in every part of the institution—the Library, Digital Media Lab, Gallery, Public Programs, Development Office all hire graduate students, and our faculty also hire graduate assistants.

Is student housing available?
Bard Hall, located at 410 West 58th Street, provides housing for students. This facility offers a variety of furnished studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.

May I visit Bard Graduate Center?
Yes, potential students are welcome to arrange a visit and tour the facilities. To arrange such a visit, contact Keith Condon (keith.condon@bgc.bard.edu) or admissions@bgc.bard.edu. We will also hold open houses for prospective students on October 15 and 29, and November 6. Because our classes are all seminars, it is not possible to sit in on a class.

Further questions about your application?
Email admissions@bgc.bard.edu or contact Keith Condon at 212.501.3056 or keith.condon@bgc.bard.edu.