The undergraduate curriculum educates Parsons and New School students in visual literacy, research and writing skills, and critical analyses, and provides them with a systematic understanding of how art, design, and visual culture operate in various geographical and historical contexts. This helps students develop the intellectual rigor necessary to become the next generation of art and design leaders. Through the use of multidisciplinary approaches, students learn how to imaginatively frame questions and consider problems from multiple perspectives.
Parsons' location in New York City enables the school to benefit from the resources of a major world city at every level of the curriculum. Classes draw on the resources of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, as well as the many smaller specialized museums and hundreds of art galleries that make New York City a center of the international art and design world.
The curriculum includes required courses for all Parsons students, depending on their degree program, as well as a broad range of electives. Core courses carry the Parsons student from freshman to senior year. Electives are organized into a series of pathways: Design Studies, Fashion Studies, Visual Culture Studies, Spatial Design Studies, Art and Design History, and Art and Design Criticism and Writing. Students interested in specific pathways can follow them through their choice of elective courses.