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  • FAQ

  • What is the purpose and philosophy of the IRP?

    The IRP at The New School was founded in 1962 as the first campus-based organization 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" 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 actively contributing to class discussions, and who will become integral members of the IRP community by coordinating study groups, joining one of the many committees, or participating in some other significant way.

    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. Current members range in age from the early 50s to the 90s. The average IRP member is 71 years old.

    Why is membership in the IRP limited to 300?

    The availability of classroom space dictates our membership limit. Equally important is our commitment to small study groups and to the unique sense of community that distinguishes the institute from other education programs. Members thrive in an environment that fosters social bonding, shared educational experiences, and attention to personal and intellectual development.

    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. Attendance at a 90-minute information session and an interview are required prior to admission. For more specific information call 212.229-5682.

    Where is the IRP located?

    The administrative office of the IRP is located in room 502 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. See detailed maps and directions to The New School.

    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 in 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 noncredit, nondegree 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 semester. If a student leads a study group, he or she may take a total of four study groups (including the one he or she is leading) that semester. Each semester members may also take—for half price—one of the hundreds of courses listed on the continuing education site .

    If accepted, do I have to lead a study group?

    You do not have to agree to lead a study group to be accepted into 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 leaders find the experience gratifying because they have a chance to hone their expertise while sharing their knowledge with others.

    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.

    What is the tuition? Are scholarships available?

    Tuition is currently $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 traditional adult education programs?

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

    More questions?

    Browse our website or call 212.229.5682.

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