Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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PACE: Pathways to Academic Choice and Excellence

Bard College at Simon’s Rock is the only college specifically designed for students ready to pursue their college education as early as age 15.


English Proficiency and Early College for International Students

The Pathway to Academic Choice and Excellence (PACE) program at Simon’s Rock is designed for students who are bright, motivated, and ready for the greater challenge of college at a younger age, and who need further instruction to advance their English language skills.

If you want to succeed in 21st century business, you need to become a critical thinker.

-Harvard Business Review

In the PACE program, students begin their work toward a degree much earlier than their peers. Whether they aspire to study medicine, engineering, computer science, or any other academic field, students can begin their studies immediately at Simon’s Rock. Whatever their ambitions, PACE students improve their abilities to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve problems creatively.

The PACE program provides students with dedicated instruction leading to proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking American English. At the same time, Bard College at Simon’s Rock’s broad liberal arts curriculum provides students the skills and content they need for success in college, graduate school, and future careers in a global economy. 


Test scores, writing samples, teacher recommendations, and the interview will be taken into account in evaluating English language proficiency. PACE is not a conditional admission or bridge program. Students admitted to PACE are fully admitted to Bard College at Simon’s Rock. From the beginning of the program, students are on an accelerated path to their college degree and future career. 

Simon’s Rock is ranked 11th by U.S. News and World Report among regional colleges in the northern United States. PACE graduates are well prepared to complete their bachelor’s degree, either at Simon’s Rock or another top college or university.

To receive more information, please submit your name and contact information in the form on this page.
Bard College at Simon’s Rock is the only four year college especially designed for younger college students. We were founded in 1966, and in 1979 became part of Bard College, located 45 minutes away in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Bard College has a number of undergraduate and graduate programs, and is ranked 36th among all liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News and World Reports. Learn more about Simon's Rock.
At Simon’s Rock, all subjects are taught in small, intensive classes; the average class size is 11 students. Professors develop close working relationships with their students. Students who complete the program earn the associate of arts (AA) degree, and emerge fully prepared to complete the bachelor’s degree, whether at Simon’s Rock or at another top college or university.

Year One: The year’s focus is on strengthening students’ English-language proficiency–reading, writing, and speaking–and developing the skills they need to successfully complete a rigorous college or university academic program. Students are enrolled full-time, taking two courses each semester focused on strengthening English and developing new skills, and two additional courses in their area of academic interest.

All PACE students, in their first year at Simon's Rock, take the two-semester Foundation Seminars (in Critical Thinking), entitled Seminar A and B. These courses introduce students to the close reading of texts and writing of analytical essays that are the basis of much college work. Students examine differing treatments of common situations, emotions, conflicts, and questions that have engaged great writers, artists, and scholars over the centuries. In addition, students are enrolled in a year long sequence, English for Academic Success I and II.

Year Two: The focus in the second year is on ensuring students’ success in the College’s challenging academic program, while continuing to improve their academic English language skills, particularly in writing.

In their second year, PACE students begin the College's core Seminar sequence, which is for all Simon's Rock students a two-semester sequence: Seminar I and II.

Year Three: By the third year, PACE students are fully caught up to students who did not need additional English language study. They declare an area of academic concentration, and complete the prerequisites for more advanced undergraduate study. Students may work toward a degree in any one of 35+ academic concentrations. Options include (but are not limited to):

  • Pre-medical studies
  • Pre-engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Political Studies
  • Environmental Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • Arts (for example, theater, film, photography, music)
During year 3, PACE students plan for the transition into the BA program at Simon’s Rock, or for transfer to another college or university, where they will enter as juniors, and complete their BA or BS studies in Years 4 (junior year) and 5 (senior year).

Many academic and career opportunities await students who elect to stay at Simon’s Rock to complete their BA degree.

Students may apply to participate in the College’s 3/2 Engineering Programs with Columbia University or Dartmouth University, or spend a semester or year of study in one of the College’s study abroad or study away programs. Options include:

Oxford University
University of Manchester, England
University of Glasgow
London Dramatic Academy

Students interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math can apply to participate in internships or summer research programs arranged through Simon’s Rock.

Learn more about other study abroad, study away, or dual degree programs available to BA candidates at Simon’s Rock.

The PACE Course of Study: Sample Schedule
Year 1 - Fall
  • English for Academic Success I
  • Seminar A
  • 1 AA Required course in Science, Arts, World Languages, or Mathematics
  • Music Lessons

Year 1 - Spring 

  • English for Academic Success II
  • Seminar B
  • 1 AA Required course in Science, Arts, World Languages, or Mathematics
  • Music Lessons

Year 2 - Fall

  • Seminar I
  • 2 AA Required course
  • 1 Elective

Year 2 - Spring

  • Seminar II
  • 2 AA Required course
  • 1 Elective

Year 3 - Fall

  • 1 AA Required course
  • 3 Electives

Year 3 - Spring

  • 1 AA Required course
  • 3 Electives
To receive more information, please submit your name and contact information in the form on this page.
Bard College at Simon’s Rock students, including international students, go on to great success after completing their AA degrees. In the past five years, all international students completing the AA at Simon’s Rock and continuing on to the BA at other U.S. universities or colleges have attended institutions ranked among the top 50 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Students also experience tremendous success in graduate school. 90 percent of all Simon’s Rock graduates who apply to medical school, for example, are admitted to their first choice.

Finally, Simon’s Rock alumni have achieved great success in a wide variety of fields—mathematics, science, technology, finance, foreign policy, law, literature, film, design, and fine art. Many alumni who continued their educations at other colleges or universities report that Simon’s Rock was the most challenging intellectual environment they experienced.

Approximately 50 percent of Simon’s Rock AA graduates elect to stay at Simon’s Rock to earn their BA. Of those who transferred to other colleges or universities, recent Simon’s Rock AA graduates went on to earn BA and/or BS degrees at the following:

U.S. News Ranking among National Universities
(† indicates multiple admissions)
(* = National Liberal Arts Colleges)
Amherst College 2 *
Yale University † 3
Swarthmore College † 3 *
Columbia University 4
University of Chicago † 4
Middlebury College 4 *
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 6
Stanford University 6
Wellesley College 6 *
University of Pennsylvania 8
Carleton College 8 *
Haverford College 9
Washington University – St. Louis † 14
Brown University † 15
Cornell University † 15
Rice University † 17
Vanderbilt University 17
Wesleyan University † 17 *
Colgate University 18 *
Emory University 20
Georgetown University 21
University of California at Berkeley † 21
University of California at Los Angeles 24
University of Southern California 24
Tufts University † 28
Barnard College [part of Columbia University] † 28 *
University of Michigan † 29
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill † 30
New York University † 32
Mount Holyoke College † 32
Brandeis University 33
University of Rochester 33
Bard College † 36
University of Wisconsin at Madison † 41
University of Miami 44
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign 46
University of Texas at Austin 46

Graduate School
In a recent survey of Simon's Rock graduates from 2001-2010, approximately 78 percent reported that they have continued on to graduate study, with 21 percent reporting PhD studies.

Simon’s Rock alumni recently went on to earn advanced degrees at the following top-ranked graduate schools:

  • Boston University*
  • Columbia University*
  • Georgetown University*
  • Harvard University
  • London School of Economics
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
  • The New School*
  • New York University*
  • Oxford University*
  • Queen’s University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of Chicago*
  • University of Iowa*
  • University of Michigan*
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Washington*
  • Washington University*
  • Yale University
* Indicates multiple recent matriculations.

Forbes magazine included four Simon’s Rock alumni in each of its first two annual “30 Under 30” lists of the most creative minds in each of 15 fields. Forbes describes their picks as young people who “represent the entrepreneurial, creative and intellectual best of their generation” and who “aren’t waiting to reinvent the world.”

Notable Simon’s Rock alumni include:
  • Nita Ing, chairman of both Continental Holdings Corporation and of Continental Engineering Co. Ltd.; director of Taiwan Synthetic Rubber Corporation; one of the five founding shareholders in the Taiwan High Speed Rail BOT; advisor to former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian
  • Jennifer Fan, founder of Arabalet Capital LLC Hedge Fund; honored in Forbes' “30 under 30” list
  • Doug Ahlers, builder of first commercial website; director of the Broadmoor Project at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
  • Jessica Mah, founder and CEO of and one of Forbes' “30 Under 30”
  • Loren AliKhan, Solicitor General for the District of Columbia
  • John McWhorter, linguist, author, political commentator for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times
  • Mark Leiter, chief strategy officer at the Nielsen Company; founding chairman of the Demand Institute
  • Raj Mukherji, deputy mayor of Jersey City, NJ; internet and public affairs entrepreneur
  • Ronan Farrow, U.S. State Department official and Rhodes Scholar
  • Henry Alford, author and New York Times columnist
  • Dean Olsher, journalist for National Public Radio
  • Joel and Ethan Coen, Oscar Award-winning filmmakers
  • Eli Pariser, former executive director; CEO of UpWorthy

To receive more information and a link to the PACE application, please submit your name and contact information in the form on this page.
Bard College at Simon’s Rock, the home of the PACE program, is a small college of approximately 450 students located on a 275 acre (1.1 square kilometer) campus in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the New England region of the United States. This rural town (population approximately 7000) is known for its safety and natural beauty. In 2012, it was named the “best small town in America” by Smithsonian magazine. Great Barrington is just 2½ hours by car from New York City and Boston international airports, and 1½ hours by car from Hartford, Connecticut or Albany, New York international airports. The area is home to numerous cultural destinations, including major museums and many music, dance, and theater festivals.

PACE students live on campus in residential halls with other Simon’s Rock students. About 12-15 percent of the Simon’s Rock student body comes from outside the United States. All international students are fully integrated into the academic and extracurricular life of the college. Except for the first year English for Academic Success and Seminar courses, which are PACE-only, PACE and other international students take the same classes as their American peers. PACE and other international students participate in all student activities, including internships and career and graduate school counseling. Simon’s Rock does not have fraternities or sororities.

Faculty and staff at Simon’s Rock are actively involved in mentoring and supporting students. Each student meets weekly with his/her faculty advisor to plan their course of study and address any concerns about their performance or experience. Faculty and staff also meet each week to identify students who may need additional support. Our faculty, all of whom hold the most advanced degree possible in their fields, are experts not just in what they teach but also how best to teach our younger students.

To receive more information, please submit your name and contact information in the form on this page.

To be admitted to the PACE program, applicants must complete the application and submit their TOEFL, DET, or IELTS scores. 

To receive more information, please submit your name and contact information in the form on this page.

PACE Tuition and Fees 2017-2018

Tuition $52,118
Campus Residence Fee $14,482
Health Services Fee $1,100
Student Activity Fee $200
Writing and Thinking Workshop Fee $650
International Orientation Fee
(New International Students Only)

Enrollment Fee
(New Students Only)

Personal/Miscellaneous $200

Students’ travel costs, textbooks, personal technology, and other expenses are not included.

To receive more information, please submit your name and contact information in the form on this page.

Bard College at Simon's Rock has partnered with The Cambridge Institute of International Education to increase its recruitment of students from Cambridge's American and East Asian Network of schools.

I think everyone here appreciates what a special privilege each of you has enjoyed in attending a unique institution like Simon’s Rock…most important, though, you have completed a curriculum that emphasizes creativity and independent critical thinking, habits of mind that I am sure will stay with you…

-Dr. Ben S. Bernanke,
Chairman of the Federal Reserve and parent of a Simon's Rock graduate

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