The New School’s Self-Directed Learning (SDL) program reflects the commitment of the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students to experiential learning that is rooted in praxis (the production of new information or insight through the iterative
relationship between action and reflection), promotes social justice, and involves creative practice, intellectual inquiry, and civic engagement.
SDL enables students to connect their learning with the world outside the classroom through applied, experimental, innovative, and practical projects as they consider the following questions:
- What does it mean to make something?
- What theories of experience and learning guide my project?
- What contributions does my project make to existing work or fields of practice and inquiry?
- What role does reflection play in ensuring excellence and rigor in my work?
- What does it mean to be both a learner and a practitioner?
All students are required to commit to two semesters of coursework. Students earn a total of three Liberal Arts credits - two credits for SDL Fundamentals and one credit for Reflections - as well as project-based credits. Students are strongly encouraged
not to apply for more than four project-based credits in their first program year. No student may earn more than six project-based credits per semester. Students may earn a total of 12 project-based credits over multiple semesters.
Students participate in SDL Fundamentals, a ten-week, two-credit liberal arts course. During the semester, students focus on creating a proposal that clearly defines the rationale, learning outcomes, and scope of the project. Students gain the skills
necessary to determine not only what they will do but also what they will learn, how they will learn it, and what resources they will need along the way. Students also begin to understand how their work relates to other work and to established fields
or disciplines and identify a content specialist or faculty mentor who will provide expertise in relevant areas. To complete the course, students produce a final project proposal that includes a proposed number of project credits, a clear rationale, learning objectives, a work plan, deliverables, and forms of evaluation. Once their project plan is approved and a content
specialist or faculty mentor is confirmed, students can move on to the spring semester.
- SDL Reflections, a five-week, one-credit liberal arts course in which students focus on building skills in reflection, support, documentation, and assessment as they carry out their projects
- Project-based credits, reduced-cost credits students earn as they carry out their projects (the number of credits earned depends on the number of credits approved in the project proposal)
Post-Coursework for Continuing SDL Students
After completing the two semesters of coursework and the initial project, students can further develop their project or embark on an entirely new project. In either case, a new project proposal is required, as is the confirmation and approval of a content
specialist or faculty mentor.
Deadlines for Continuing SDL Students
Summer project proposal deadline: May 3
Fall project proposal deadline: August 15
Spring project proposal deadline: December 10
The three Liberal Arts credits are billed at the regular price. Project-based credits are billed at $415 per credit.
How to Apply
Please complete an application. Applications for new SDL
students are reviewed in the spring semester. Once admitted to the program,
students are provided with registration information for the fall SDL
Fundamentals course. A key part of a successful application is a concrete idea
for a project—something more than an abstract concept like “gentrification” or
“racial justice.” The project idea is developed during the program year.
For more information, please contact [email protected].