• 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 discipline.

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    Flexible Study Paths

    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.

    Shared Learning Experience

    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. 

    Cross-Disciplinary Environment

    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.

    Future Options

    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.

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    BFA and BBA Programs: First-Year Curricula

    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.

    BFA First Year F S
    PUFY 1000 Integrative Studio 1 3 -
    PUFY 1010 Integrative Seminar 1 3 -
    PUFY 1100 Sustainable Systems* 3 -
    PUFY 1020 Space/Materiality** 3 -
    PUFY 1030 Drawing/Imaging** 3 -
    PUFY 1040 Time** - 3
    PUFY 1001 Integrative Studio 2 - 3
    PUFY 1011 Integrative Seminar 2 - 3
    PLHT 1000 Objects as History* - 3
    Program Elective
    - 3
    15 15

    * 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.

    BBA First Year F S
    PUFY 1000 Integrative Studio 1 3 -
    PUFY 1010 Integrative Seminar 1 3 -
    PUFY 1100 Sustainable Systems 3 -
    LMTH 1950 Quantitative Reasoning 1 3 -
    PUFY 1030 Drawing/Imaging*** 3 -
    PUFY 1040 Time*** - 3
    PUFY 1001 Integrative Studio 2 - 3
    PUFY 1011 Integrative Seminar 2 - 3
    ULEC 2230 Intro to Political Economies: Lecture - 0
    ULEC 2231 Intro to Political Economies: Recitation - 3
    Program Elective
    - 3
    15 15

    *** 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.


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