Serving as a “pioneer in art and design education” since its founding in 1896, the Parsons New School for Design continues today to provide top notch, accredited degree programs in fashion, interior design, art, and media technologies. Realizing the ever evolving and expanding nature of the design medium, Parsons has spent over a century providing training applicable to everything from business to community development, especially with “design thinking…increasing being employed to solve complex global problems” resulting in Parson’s leading in “new approaches to art and design education.”
Parson’s today consists of three different locations in the NYC area, housing a total of five schools: Art/Design History/Theory, Art/Media/Technology, Constructed Environments, Design Strategies: Cities/Services/Ecosystems, and Fashion. There is also a Continuing Education and Pre-College Studies, covering all the bases for artistic learners and offering numerous educational opportunities in viable occupational areas.
There are currently 27 different degree programs offered, Associate, Bachelor, and Masters tracts for a mostly undergraduate student body of around 4200 students. Majors aren’t just painting and sculpting, as there are options from fashion design to architecture here. It’s joining with the New School organization in the early 70’s allowed for this broadened scope of offerings, as well as providing up to the minute technolgies and theory to bring to the classrooms, not just a name change on the letterhead. There are even dual degree programs, like a combined Master of Architecture and and MFA in Lighting Design, completable in four years.
A collaborative learning environment exists througout Parsons, which creates exciting connections and cooperatives between design divisions, but also limits the amount of distance education available. Granted, cutting edge computers and technologies are used here, with many courses utilizing lab work and out of class computer assignments, but online degree programs only exist in a couple of areas.
As of now, there are two Associate degrees offered online (an AAS in Fashion Marketing or Graphic Design), both with asynchronous classes that allow students to access class materials at any time, posting day or night and completing assignments at their own pace. Students have the option of working with a blend of on campus/online learning, or getting their degree without any traditional learning. There is also a collaborative summer program with the Bank Street College of Education that spends three summer sessions combined with online work between, resulting in a M.S. in Education.
Online courses are available to all students, with 20+ available per semester across all of Parsons’ schools, including oddities like Art Nouveau, essentials like Graphic Design I, and multi-divisional ones like Business Basics:Intellectual Property and Licensing. Their online tools include registration (recommended as a way to snatch up classes that might be gone by the time traditional registration times come up), advisement, library access (to the Adam and Sophie Gimbal Library and its many rare and useful design resources).
Many other programs exist for learners of all ages, including a Pre-College program for students of all ages, with certifications available for high school learners well before they reach college age. Non-degree Continuing Education courses number in the hundreds, either for credit or simply for learning, and study abroad options (it was the first American art and design school to found a campus outside the country) include educational stints in Paris, Japan, and the Dominican.
Diverse both in student body and educational offerings, Parsons consistently changes as its medium changes, offering more opportunity and an increasing number of degree programs, all with the bottom line of educating the largest cross-section of artists available. Utilizing the culture and experiences of its students and faculty to drive the creative learning process, Parsons continues to be a viable and pertinent educator in the 21st century.