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  • FAQ

    What is the purpose and philosophy of the IRP?

    In 1962 the IRP was founded at The New School as the first campus-based program for older students. Recognizing the potential of older adults to be both students and teachers, the IRP created a unique educational program based on the concept of peer learning. In essence, members of the IRP develop study groups that are led by the students themselves. New School instructors may lend their expertise to help develop curricula for study groups but they do not teach at the IRP. The peer learning approach has been so successful that it is now broadly known as the "Institute for Learning in Retirement" (ILR) or simply the "Institute" model.

    What are the qualifications for membership?

    Membership in the IRP is open to all retired or semiretired individuals regardless of age, education, or career background. The IRP seeks candidates who have the time and energy to commit to serious study, who enjoy learning and will actively contribute to class discussions, and who will become integral members of the IRP by coordinating a study group or joining one of the many committees.

    Is there an age requirement for membership?

    There is no age requirement to join the IRP. Any retired or semiretired individual is invited to apply for membership. Currently members range in age from their early 50s to their late 80s, and on average they are 71 years old.

    Why is membership in the IRP limited to 270?

    The availability of classroom space dictates that limit. Equally important is our commitment to small study groups and to the unique sense of community that distinguishes the institute from other learning programs. Members thrive in an environment that fosters social bonding, shared educational experiences, and attention to personal and intellectual development. So the limit must be viewed not just in terms of logistics, but in terms of the well-being of our learning community.

    How do I apply?

    Applications for membership in the IRP may be submitted at any time, and are reviewed in the preceding spring and summer for fall enrollment and in the preceding fall for spring enrollment. For an application and more specific deadline information, call 212.229-5682. Attendance at a 90-minute information session and an interview are required prior to admission.

    Where is the IRP located?

    The IRP is located at 66 West 12th Street in New York's Greenwich Village. It is close to most subway lines and buses that have 14th Street stops.

    Is membership limited to New York City residents?

    No, members come from all over the New York Metropolitan Area. In order to foster the sense of collegiality that is central to the program, regular attendance is important. Members should be able to travel to class through normal weather conditions.

    Do I need to have a degree to be a member?

    Although more than 90 percent of our members have degrees and almost half have advanced degrees, membership is open to people of all educational backgrounds. The IRP actively seeks applications from individuals of underrepresented groups and people of color, and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or physical limitation.

    Can I get a degree through IRP?

    The IRP is a non-credit, non-degree program. Members participate in study groups for the pure pleasure of learning.

    How many courses may I take per semester?

    Students take a minimum of two or a maximum of three study groups per term. If a student leads a study group, he or she may take a total of four study groups that semester. Each semester members may also take for half price, one of the almost 800 courses offered in The New School for Public Engagement Catalog.

    If accepted, do I have to lead a course?

    You do not have to agree to lead a course to be accepted to the institute. However, after several semesters of class participation many members find they are ready to assume the responsibility of leading a study group. Leaders choose study group topics based on their interests and expertise. Most study group coordinators find the experience of leading a class extremely gratifying because they not only get an opportunity to share their knowledge with others but they have a chance to hone their own expertise as well.

    Once accepted do I have to attend every semester?

    Students may take a leave of absence for up to two consecutive semesters. Members on leave must pay a nominal fee each semester to remain on the mailing list. After an absence of more than two semesters members must reapply for admission.

    Members in good standing who plan to attend the IRP for only one semester in a year must obtain a leave of absence. They must file the application by the registration deadline for the semester during which they will be absent. There is a $15 fee. Students on leave will still receive regular IRP mailings and may participate in all social events. Leave is not granted for more than than two consecutive semesters. Members may also take a leave of absence from the IRP for up to one year because of illness or for other personal reasons with written permission from the director. See Alumni Membership below if you expect to be inactive for more than one year.

    Members who fail to register in any fall or spring semester and have not obtained a leave of absence will be dropped from the program and must reapply for admission in order to return.

    What is an Alumni Membership?

    Members who no longer wish to be active but would like to remain involved with the community can enroll as alumni by paying a $25 lifetime fee in lieu of the annual membership fee. Alumni receive IRP mailings and are invited to participate in social events. Alumni who wish to resume active membership must formally reapply.

    What is the tuition? Are scholarships available?

    Tuition is $980 for the academic year or $638 for a single semester and includes full participation in the IRP program and many additional benefits. Admissions procedures are blind to an applicant's ability to pay, and scholarships are available once a student is accepted.

    How does the IRP differ from other adult education programs?

    All members of the IRP community share responsibility for the academic program. In addition, the IRP allows students to participate both in peer-learning-based study groups and receive a 50% tuition discount in The New School's continuing education classes. The IRP also offers members a host of social and non academic activities.

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