Public Engagement

Experiential Learning

  • Rooted in the belief that learning can and should be active and take many forms, The New School's Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students makes experiential learning an integral part of your education. For new students, our advisors review your professional and personal background to determine if you are eligible to receive academic credit for prior learning. Once you have completed a few courses in the program, you can earn credit for internships, study abroad, and projects designed through self-directed learning such as professional engagements, artistic and performance pieces, and independent research and projects.

    Shape your education with faculty and advisors who will help you develop projects and courses of study to suit your professional and personal needs and goals. Intern at a nonprofit, lead a social justice initiative, design and implement a nutrition program for children, or study abroad for a semester. It's all possible in a community that thrives on catalyzing diverse experiences into personal achievement and social good.

    Self-Directed Learning

    The Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students is committed to experiential learning that is

    1. Rooted in the concept of praxis, the production of new knowledge or insight that grows from the iterative relationship between action and reflection.
    2. Engages at least two of the following: social justice, creative practice, intellectual inquiry, and civic engagement.

    As part of this commitment, Self-Directed Learning provides a pathway for BPATS students to work inside and outside the classroom 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 already-existing work in the field?
    • What role does reflection play in ensuring excellence and rigor in what I create?
    • What does it mean to be both learner and a practitioner?

    How Self-Directed Learning works:

    First Semester

    Enroll in Self-Directed Learning Fundamentals: a 10-week, two credit liberal arts course focused on the creation of a project proposal with a clear rationale, learning outcomes, scope, and identified "content specialist" (a New School Faculty member who will mentor your project).

    The development of the proposal is guided by: building knowledge of the field; understanding theories of learning, experience, and practice; and refining proposal writing/project development skills. Essentially, you will gain the skills to identify not only what you will do, but also what you will learn and why it qualifies for college level credit, how you will learn it, what resources you will need along the way.

    Second Semester

    Enroll in Self-Directed Learning Reflections: a five-week, one credit liberal arts course focused on reflection and support as you carry out your project and build your reflection, documentation, and assessment skills. Carry out a project and earn liberal arts or non-liberal arts credit (up to six credits per project, based on assessment by instructor and content specialist).

    After the initial year of guided coursework and project-based work, you can propose additional Self-Directed Learning for new components of your original project and/or new projects. Students may earn a total of 12 Self-Directed Learning credits toward their degree. Credits earned through Self-Directed Learning Projects are at a reduced-cost, but count the same as any other credits you earn.

    Do I Qualify?

    Yes, if the following are true:

    • You have completed the Pathways to Learning Course or the Prior Learning workshop;
    • You have at least five credits and two semesters left to graduate;
    • You are self-motivated, and believe in the value of connecting classroom learning to out-of-classroom experience;
    • Your schedule provides enough flexibility to not only come to class, but also to carry out your project in the spring semester.
    How do I apply?

    If you meet these requirements and are interested in applying, please complete the self-Directed Learning Application Form no later than May 3, 2019.

    All applications will be reviewed. Qualifying applicants will be contacted to schedule a meeting to discuss your proposed project during the week of May 13.


    Students can earn non-liberal arts credits for internships arranged through the Program Office. To be eligible, a student must have completed at least 12 credits in residence at The New School and be in good academic standing. Students can register for up to two internships as part of the Bachelor's Program. Internships are set up as courses; they normally carry three credits and are completed in one academic term. Students must work 10-12 hours per week for 12-15 weeks to earn three credits.

    Application Process

    Any student interested in earning credits for an internship should discuss this option with their core faculty advisor. To register your internship, you need to submit an experience learning agreement (ELA).

    To submit an ELA:

    1. Go to The Village and log in with your Net ID and the password you use for MyNewSchool (you can also log in through the apps locker in MyNewSchool).
    2. Once logged in, click Careers on the top navigation bar.
    3. Click Experiencefrom the list on the left-hand side.
    4. Click the Create New ELA button at the right-hand top of the page.
    5. After you've filled out the ELA, click Submit at the bottom of the page.

    The following steps will then take place:

    • Your supervisor will complete their portion of the ELA and approve it. (they will receive an email with instructions for completing the ELA once you submit it.)
    • Once your ELA has been approved by your supervisor, Experience will review your ELA, approve it, and register you for the internship course.
    • After your ELA has been fully approved by your supervisor and Experience, you will receive a letter of eligibility stating that you will receive credit for the internship.

    If you're an international student, Experience will automatically begin processing your CPT (if you are CPT eligible) once your ELA is fully approved. If you need a social security number forthis internship, you will need to apply for one with Social Security Administration (SSA). To begin that process, you will need to submit an iGlobal request to have a SSN letter of eligibility issued by Experience. You can get more information about the SSN process online. If you have previously been issued a SSN for a past experience, you do not need to apply for a new number.

    You can check the status of your ELA by checking the Experience section on the Village.

    If you have any questions during the ELA process, please contact

    Please note: Tuition for internships is charged per credit at the same rate as the student's other courses in the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students. Internships are subject to the same add and drop deadlines as other courses.


    Upon completion of an internship, the student submits a written report (4-7 pages) to the Director of Academic Affairs, describing the internship experience. The on-site supervisor must complete a brief evaluation form, provided by The New School. Upon receipt of both the reports and evaluation, a grade of P (Pass; credits are awarded) or U (Unsatisfactory; no credit is awarded) will be reported.

    Study Abroad

    Do more than earn your degree; experience the world.

    Adult students are encouraged to build on the fortitude, social consciousness, and curiosity that led them to complete their degree by engaging in study abroad opportunities offered by The New School's Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students. We structure our study abroad programs to meet the needs of busy adult students, with opportunities in the winter and summer lasting only a few weeks. Students who desire a longer experience can also participate in other university-sponsored programs. Whether you spend a few weeks, a semester, or an academic year abroad, you will have the chance to study in different environments and cultural contexts by taking courses, working at internships, or pursuing volunteer projects.


    The New School offers our own courses abroad and partners with study abroad programs at other institutions. You can participate in a university-sponsored program or research and apply to one of the many programs available through IIE Passport,, or

    First Steps

    To gain the most from your study abroad experience and ensure school approval, consider your reasons for studying abroad, how the experience will fit into your overall education plan, and when and where you want to study. Then make an appointment with the director of Academic Affairs to discuss your desires and options.