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A Liberal Arts Education

At Barnard, you will be able to immerse yourself in the joys and rigors of a classical liberal arts education, an education that will prompt you to explore the world from a variety of different perspectives and through the lenses of multiple disciplines. Your job is to decide how to fashion these perspectives into a world that makes sense to you and then, over time, how to shape your own role within it. Education is a journey that lasts a lifetime. – President Debora Spar

Since our founding in 1889, Barnard has been known for its distinctive academic culture, with a commitment to the liberal arts at its core. Students experience the humanities, sciences, languages, social sciences, and the arts, and develop the kind of critical thinking they’ll need in whatever field they choose to pursue. This is not a place where intellectual discussions end at classroom doors. Instead, the entire campus is alive with the constant exchange of ideas, and with the discovery that comes from students who aren’t afraid to take intellectual and creative risks.

From introductory biology classes to senior capstone projects, from eighteenth-century American literature to oceanography or Taoism, the range of academic choices is extraordinary. New doors are opened for Barnard students every day, with the help of more than 200 full-time distinguished faculty members, 92 percent of whom hold a PhD or highest appropriate degree. These faculty members include editors of leading scholarly journals, prize-winning novelists and translators, acclaimed performance artists and architects, cutting-edge scientists, commentators on popular culture, noted anthropologists, and winners of the most respected awards in nearly every field of endeavor—and our New York City location allows us to bring in many guest lecturers and instructors, as well. Only here at Barnard do faculty members reap the benefits of a top liberal arts college and a world-class university, enabling them to work closely with students, both as teachers and research collaborators.

The interdisciplinary foundation of a Barnard education is formed by our signature Nine Ways of Knowing—lenses that create a framework for understanding the world: Reason and Value, Social Analysis, Cultures in Comparison, Language, Laboratory Science, Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning, Historical Studies, Literature, and Visual and Performing Arts. Requirements in these areas allow for maximum flexibility and, more often than not, the shape of each student’s education is unique. Add to this myriad job and internship possibilities and all that the City and the world have to offer, and the opportunities for learning are endless. Students pursue a truly global education through study, research, and travel abroad. They learn to excel, collaborate, and lead with The Athena Center for Leadership Studies. They become part of the Barnard Center for Research on Women and its nearly 44–year history of promoting inquiry and advancing knowledge about women.

With our commitment to the liberal arts, our exemplary teacher-scholars, and our understanding that an education takes place both in and out of the classroom, Barnard students find new ways to think about themselves, their world, and their roles in changing it.