Who We Are: A non-profit organization that links smart, non-traditional high school-age learners with welcoming four-year colleges who are looking for new talent and willing to update their degree programs to ensure that the college experience is inspiring and leads to satisfying careers and fulfilling lives.


…if we were able to reach out to America’s low-income and working-class youth—smart, often under-motivated kids who now get little out of high school and have almost no chance of being admitted to — and graduating at high rates from — the kind of liberal arts college that so many of the most successful women and men attend. Imagine if we could inspire these kids to reach for the stars, to open their eyes and their minds to the big ideas and classical questions of the humanities, a privilege now largely restricted to children from affluent families.

Imagine, too, if these overlooked high-potential young people could re-populate the best of America’s struggling, under-enrolled liberal arts colleges and find there an affordable, ideal learning context to help them gain, along with an encounter with great ideas, the skills and experiences that our best employers are searching for: persistence, initiative, creativity, teamwork, and the willingness to take reasonable risks in pursuit of excellent results.

And imagine if we could bring a cadre of passionate teachers to campus to work with current faculty to engage these learners in a series of seminars that combine the best classical traditions of the liberal arts with skills and dispositions that lead to great careers and to civic engagement in issues of social justice, democracy, and planetary survival.

These ideas are hardly new. The best of our colleges and universities are experimenting with a number of them. What is new is bringing these ideas together: inviting non-traditional high school learners, with help from college student mentors, to gear up for a baccalaureate that is team-taught, performance-based, focused equally on classical liberal arts and on essential career capacities, and avowedly committed to democratic and humane values. We believe that this combination has the potential, over time, to revolutionize liberal education. And our economic model promises to substantially reduce tuition for these learners while helping great liberal arts colleges survive.

But, let’s not kid ourselves: To make this happen we will have to make some big changes at high school and at college! We’re convinced we can make this happen. America is ready for a New American Baccalaureate.

What Do We Mean by “Smart, Non-Traditional” Learners?

Not every smart person is smart in the same way. For some high school students “being smart” means doing whatever it takes to get good grades. For others, it means learning things that have meaning for them, reading and writing on their own, speaking their minds, being creative in ways that don’t always fit in with school requirements.

Some students, of course, do both, and the New American Baccalaureate seeks all who work hard at what they love and are willing to challenge themselves to explore new ideas and gain new skills.

What We Offer:

A way of completing a college degree that combines courses, seminars, internships, and independent study. Students who enroll in New American Baccalaureate degree program demonstrate what they know through project-based learning, rather than by just taking courses and passing tests.

Students work with faculty who are committed to interdisciplinary teaching and learning and who appreciate students who approach knowledge with an open mind and are eager to demonstrate what they know and can do.

Why We Call it the “New American Baccalaureate”

“Baccalaureate” is another name for the “Bachelors Degree” offered at four-year colleges or universities. Since our degree program is unique, we want it to have a name of its own. We believe success in college and in life requires that students prepare for a challenging career by learning to think about and act on issues that matter.

Colleges who offer the NAB are ready to change how they work with students in order to promote this kind of success. NAB students feel part of the college community and take full advantage of all that the college offers: courses, departments, extra-curricular activities and campus life. But they agree to take more responsibility for their learning, to be “in charge” of their education.

What We Care About:

We believe that a first-class college education prepares students with the skills, knowledge, experiences, insights, and confidence to have a satisfying life that includes a lifetime of learning, an exciting career, access to great ideas, caring about social justice and the fate of our planet, and support for democracy and humane values.

The best employers want to hire people who can think, who can work well with others, who are flexible and creative. Our communities want citizens who are active in solving problems like inequality and in advocating for democracy and survival of the planet.

NAB May — or May Not — Be Right for You

You may be a student who is happy to “go with the flow,” to let your teachers tell you what you need to know and how to get the grades you want. NAB is probably not a good choice for you, since you may feel more comfortable in a traditional college program.

But if you are an independent thinker, someone who insists that what you learn should have a meaningful connection to your life, NAB might be just what you are looking for

The New American Baccalaureate Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization