• Undergraduate Electives

  • A group of students sitting together, looking at laptops both together and individually.
  • You can customize your studies by taking elective courses offered throughout the university on a range of topics you select. Electives enable you to pursue your passions and goals, expand your skills, or focus on subjects closely related to your major. When considering options, allow yourself time to explore—you may discover interests that broaden your opportunities. 

    At Parsons, electives are organized into two categories: program electives and liberal arts electives. 

    Program electives are hands-on art and design classes and strategic design and business courses. Liberal arts electives are humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics courses that build your critical thinking, writing, analytical, and science and math skills. Both kinds are found in the University Course Catalog. Details of program and liberal arts electives follow.

    Program Electives

    Electives Offered by Your Program’s School at Parsons

    Program electives offered by the Parsons school where your major is housed offer the most direct support. A BFA Photography student would find the elective course Photo Processes, available at their home school—Art, Media, and Technology—directly applicable to their program studies. The elective course Digital Patternmaking, offered by the School of Fashion, would support the studies of a BFA Fashion Design student.    

    Electives Offered by Other Parsons Schools

    Electives offered by schools other than your home school let you branch out and explore. For example, a Product Design student might take a painting elective offered by the School of Art, Media, and Technology to build their hand-making skills. The Brand Strategy course, offered by the School of Design Strategies, could help a student in the Illustration program explore launching a business.

  • Liberal Arts Electives 

    Liberal arts electives are offered throughout The New School—the university home of Parsons School of Design—so you have access to electives in a range of topics including math, journalism, languages, psychology, and anthropology. If you're more interested in visual and material culture, you can take electives offered by Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory. Liberal arts electives can help you develop the skills and flexibility needed to thrive in design and the ever-changing work world. 

  • Choosing Your Electives

    Start your search by identifying topics that interest you in the program elective and liberal arts elective categories. You can use topics as search terms in the search field at the top of the University Course Catalog page.

    The catalog labels art, design, and strategic or business design program electives offered at Parsons with subject codes (four letters that precede course titles) that identify the Parsons school offering the class. Knowing how to interpret the subject codes can help you scan for courses that interest you, fit into your schedule, and align with your level of familiarity with a subject. Your advisor can help you find courses that best support your educational goals.

    Below is a key to program elective subject codes and related course topics.

    Program Elective Subject Codes and Topics

  • You can fulfill your liberal arts elective requirements with courses offered throughout the university. Below are tips for researching classes and a key to subject codes of liberal arts electives offered at Parsons.

    Liberal Arts Elective Subject Codes and Topics

    Enter search terms for subjects that interest you on the University Course Catalog page. You can also scan for Parsons classes using the subject codes shown below. Look for the “Liberal Arts Elective” or “Non-Liberal Arts” tag found at the upper right-hand corner of the course pages or filter for “Liberal Arts” in the course catalog.

    Parsons Liberal Arts Elective Codes and Topics

    PLAH: History of Art and Design

    PLDS: Design Studies

    PLFS: Fashion Studies

    PLHT: History of Visual and Material Culture

    PLSD: Spatial Design Studies

    PLVS: Visual Studies

    Electives and Course Levels

    As you browse electives, you'll notice that each class has a number. The numbers are the course level and reflect how advanced the course material is. Higher course levels are more advanced. The guide shown below can help you choose among your options.

    • 1000-level courses (such as PSAM 1001) are introductory-level courses, designed to acquaint you with the basics. They are particularly suitable for first-year students and anyone looking to acquire a new skill.

    • 2000- to 3000-level courses (such as PLAH 3000) are intermediate-level classes, designed for second- or third-year students. 

    • 4000-level courses (such as PSDS 4001) are more advanced classes that cover specialized topics in depth. These courses are best suited to seniors and students who already have a solid foundation in the subject.

    Keep an eye out for any restrictions or prerequisites listed in the course descriptions, as some classes are open only to students of designated year levels or those who have completed specific courses.

    Advising Support 

    Advisors can help you select electives throughout your academic journey at Parsons. Make an appointment with your advisor through Starfish. Schedule regular appointments with your advisor so you can stay on track with program requirements and electives and meet your learning objectives.

    Electives and Minors

    Electives enable you to pursue interests outside of your major, and you can focus on these subjects in even greater depth by pursuing a minor. Minors are sets of courses that develop skills in broadly applicable fields such as writing, psychology, immersive storytelling, coding, urban studies, and fashion communications. Most classes for minors fulfill elective requirements. By complementing what you learn in your major, minors help you become a well-rounded, adaptable graduate and tailor your own career path. Visit the undergraduate minors page to learn more about minors.

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