Who can apply to the M.A. program?

Applicants to the M.A. in Human Rights & the Arts program must have a baccalaureate or equivalent degree. The program welcomes current and aspiring activists, artists, and researchers. An applicant’s undergraduate degree or professional experience does not have to be focused on human rights or the arts. However, the applicant must demonstrate strong research capabilities, an excellent record of academic and/or professional pursuits, and a commitment to understanding, exploring, and furthering the growing encounter between human rights and the arts. Students from around the world are invited to apply. The admissions committee reserves the right to make exceptions to its application eligibility and requirements on a case-by-case basis.

Do I have to be an artist or have a background in the study, creation, or curation of art?

No, you neither have to be an artist nor have a background in the study, creation, or curation of art. Though some evidence of a sustained interest in the arts (e.g., coursework, volunteer experience, or otherwise) is helpful in the application process. This program is nevertheless anchored in the intersection of human rights and the arts. It is designed for students who seek to better understand, research, and/or contribute to that intersection. This invariably requires a commitment by M.A. students to learn about the study and practice of the arts, aesthetics, and their political potential. M.A. students must also show a commitment to a career trajectory that engages with that intersection.

Do I have to have a background in the study of human rights or its advocacy?

No, you neither have to have studied human rights nor actively been engaged in advocacy around them. Though some evidence of a sustained interest in human rights (e.g., coursework, volunteer experience, or otherwise) is helpful in the application process. This program is nevertheless anchored in the intersection of human rights and the arts. It is designed for students who seek to better understand, research, and/or contribute to that intersection. This invariably requires a commitment by M.A. students to learn about the study and advocacy of human rights, their possibilities and limitations, and how the arts factor into such dynamics. M.A. students must also show a commitment to a career trajectory that engages with that intersection.

When is the application deadline, and what do I need to submit as an application?

The application deadline for the 2021–22 academic year is May 1, 2021 for priority consideration and June 15, 2021 for final consideration. In addition to the online application form, applicants must submit several supplemental documents and records via the application portal. These include a personal statement, curriculum vitae, writing or artistic/curatorial sample, two letters or recommendation, transcripts, and other documents. Please consult the How to Apply section of the Center website for more information.

Is there an application fee?

No. There is no fee or any other charge to submit an application to the M.A. program.

Does it matter whether I submit a writing or artistic sample with my application?

You should submit the type of sample that best represents your capabilities as an advocate, artist, or researcher. Our ideal cohort of students includes all three categories of professional trajectories (notwithstanding any potential between them). Remember, the purpose of the sample (whether writing or artistic is to supplement your application and provide the admissions committee with a sense of some of the relevant experiences and skills you will continue to develop in the program.

How much does it cost to attend the M.A. program?

Annual tuition for the M.A. program is $23,750. Additional annual fees include registration ($220) and health services ($470). Prospective students should also factor in health insurance and the cost of living (e.g., room and board, books and supplies, travel) which we estimate to annually average $23,750. Please note that these are estimates. Some fees and expenses are optional, depending on a student’s circumstances. It is important to also note that our program is committed to being as accessible as possible and is currently able to offer significant need-based financial aid to help defray the cost of attendance (see below). All admitted students will be notified of a full breakdown of the estimated total cost of attendance upon admission. In the mean time, please do not hesitate to contact the M.A. program with any questions.

Is there financial aid to help with the cost of attendance?

Yes. The Center for Human Rights and the Arts (CHRA) offers need-based financial aid to a select number of admitted students of various amounts to help with defraying the overall cost of attendance. This includes fellowships to cover part or all of tuition and scholarships to cover some or all the other associated costs. Please consult the Financial Aid section of the Center website for more information, including how to request consideration for financial aid as part of your application to the program.

Are international students eligible to receive financial aid like US-based students?

Yes. CHRA provides fellowships and scholarships to international students and U.S. citizens alike on the basis of financial need.

When will I know if I have been awarded any financial aid?

We will notify students of any financial aid awards within approximately ten days of their notice of admission.

Is the M.A. program accredited?

Yes. Like Bard College’s undergraduate and other graduate degrees, the M.A. in Human Rights and the Arts program is accredited by the New York State Education Department and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Bard College is also a member of the American Council on Education, American Council of Learned Societies, Association of American Colleges and Universities, College Entrance Examination Board, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, Education Records Bureau, and Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities.

How flexible is the curriculum?

The curriculum is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study (i.e., fall and spring semesters of two consecutive academic years). It allows students with different interests and experiences to develop their intellectual and practical knowledge in accordance with their desired overall trajectory. In addition to five required core courses, students must complete a total of six elective courses. This means that in any given semester students will take two or three courses of their own choosing from a range of approved courses. Students also have a choice in completing a traditional academic thesis or a research-based performance/installation as their required capstone project, the specific subject of which the student can determine (provided it speaks to the intersection of human rights and the arts). Please consult the Curriculum section of the Center website for more information.

Who teaches in the M.A. program?

The faculty of the M.A. program comprises three sets of individuals. The first are faculty members who constitute the core team of the Center for Human Rights and the Arts (CHRA). Currently, this includes Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, Dr. Tania El Khoury, Dr. Thomas Keenan, and Gideon Lester. In addition to core faculty, CHRA annually hosts two research fellows who teach in the program during the year they are in residence at the Center. Finally, CHRA is developing a cohort of affiliated faculty drawn from Bard College and elsewhere across the Open Society University Network that will also teach in the program on a rotational basis. All three of these categories of faculty members are eligible to serve on an M.A. student’s thesis committee.

Do I need to complete an M.A. thesis project?

Yes. The completion of a thesis project is a required component of the curriculum. Students have a choice between a traditional academic thesis and a research-based performance/installation. They also work with the director of the MA program to select their thesis project supervisor and the other two members of their thesis committee.

Will I need a U.S. visa?

All students who are not U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents require a visa prior to traveling to the United States to enroll in the program. Such students typically apply for an F-1 visa, although certain other visa types may also be acceptable for studying in the country. Bard College will provide support services for obtaining the visa. However, students are responsible for all costs and fees associated with processing their visa applications. The M.A. program will contact admitted students who formally accept their offer of admission to arrange for applying for a visa.

Where do M.A. students live while attending Bard?

Most M.A. students live off campus, securing their housing through the rental market of one of the neighboring towns (e.g., Red Hook and Tivoli). However, there is limited on-campus housing for graduate students at Bard College.

Do I need a car while attending Bard?

While most graduate students find it easier to have a car, there is a free Bard-operated bus system that connects the Bard College campus to the two nearest towns of Red Hook and Tivoli villages. There is also an occasional shuttle to local shopping centers and New York City airports. These transportation options are in addition to a limited public transportation in the area. Please consult the Bard Transportation blog for additional information.