How can a design education prepare students to thrive in a complex and rapidly changing world? Parsons' first-year course of study immerses students in an exploration of art and design concepts, skills, and critical practices, training them to become
flexible thinkers, proficient makers, and lifelong learners. The curriculum, which serves as the first-year course of study for all undergraduate programs at Parsons, focuses on critically engaged approaches to art, design, and strategic thinking. The First Year enables students to envision paths beyond the confines of a single
Learn about the first-year community to see what students, faculty, and alumni are doing in NYC and around the world at parsons.edu/undergrad.
The first-year curriculum is designed to build capacity and curiosity in students that will enable them to imagine a variety of pathways through their undergraduate studies. Students interested in focusing on a traditional discipline, examining creative and academic fields in combination, or exploring approaches to art and design can tailor their studies to meet their needs. The curriculum balances breadth and depth, integrates studio and liberal arts learning, and gives students flexibility in choosing how to reach their educational goals while taking advantage of the unique opportunities New York City offers.
The first-year curriculum provides a common experience for all incoming Parsons students. All First Year students take the majority of courses together, with some variation for BFA and BBA students according to their degree type. Students in all BFA programs have the same set of first-year course requirements. First Year students at Parsons are able to shape their path of study within those requirements, selecting from the various options available for many of the required courses.
First-year courses prepare students for life as skilled and socially aware artists, designers, and strategic thinkers. Classes focusing on broadly relevant art and design concepts, tools, and methods — including studios exploring 2D and 3D processes, drawing, and digital design as well as liberal arts seminars — bring together students who are passionate about all kinds of art, design, and strategic processes and who will one day forge new paths in an array of disciplines. This interaction is a central aspect of the first-year experience. Today's classmates are tomorrow's colleagues.
While many students enter with a major declared, students are encouraged to explore options for their major. The first-year curriculum sometimes leads students to switch majors or plan for careers that do not fit comfortably within established categories. After completing first-year coursework, students work with advisors, in consultation with instructors, to define their goals and, if desired, choose or change their degree program.
First Year students entering Parsons share a common learning experience. The same course sequence constitutes the first year of all BFA programs, providing a foundational experience that familiarizes students with the tools, methods, and skills employed in
art and design. A similar course sequence applies for BBA students, with the exception of two courses specific to that degree. The required courses for each degree provide a core learning experience, the outcomes of which feed into continuing undergraduate study
at Parsons. Many of the required courses also offer an array of course options, which, along with a spring-semester elective course that can be taken in First Year or across The New School, allows students the flexibility to create their own pathway through the first year based on their own interests.
* Objects as History and Sustainable Systems may be taken in any sequence, one in the fall semester and one in the spring.
** The three first-year studio courses — Drawing/Imaging, Space/Materiality, and Time — may be taken in any sequence, two in the fall semester and one in the spring.
*** The two first-year studio courses — Drawing/Imaging and either Space/Materiality or Time — may be taken in any sequence, one in the fall semester and one in the spring.
Learning at Parsons School of Design is different and better -- starting with your first year. Parsons' executive dean Joel Towers and faculty member John Roach explain how our curriculum enables you to tailor your studies and broaden your skills for the evolving creative economy.
Learn more about what Parsons students, faculty, and alumni are doing throughout the city and around the world.
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