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Parsons School of Design MFA Photography program theses

Identifier: PC-02-04-03

Scope and Content of Collection

This record group consists of graduate theses created by students in the Parsons School of Design Photography MFA program.

The theses consist of mixed-media digital images, video, and Microsoft PowerPoint files. Also included are Microsoft Word doc and pdf files containing artist statements.


  • 2005-2023



131.65 Gigabytes (2818 files)

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Researchers must use digital access copies.

Use Restrictions

In accordance with The New School's Intellectual Property Rights Policy, copyright is held by each thesis' respective author. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the user.

Historical Note

Parsons School of Design's MFA Photography program launched in 2002. As of 2017, it is part of Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT). The 2017 website describes the program as follows:

The MFA Photography program prepares students to become practicing artists and scholars who redefine the creative role of photography within contemporary culture. The program challenges students to move beyond current paradigms, anticipating and setting trends rather than following them.

American artist William Merritt Chase established Parsons School of Design in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. While founded as a school of fine arts instruction, it soon added courses in "applied arts," which became the primary focus under the direction of Frank Alvah Parsons. The name of the school changed several times, to the New York School of Art in 1902, then to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in 1909. In 1940, the Board of Trustees voted to change the school's name to Parsons School of Design in recognition of Frank Alvah Parsons' leadership and to differentiate it from other, similarly named institutions.

In 1921, Parsons School of Design's European School opened with headquarters in France called the Paris Ateliers. The Ateliers closed in 1939 due to the escalation of World War II, and never reopened in its pre-war form. Summer study tours of Europe resumed in the late 1940s. When Parsons School of Design affiliated with the New School for Social Research in 1970, students could for the first time earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New School (before the merger, students earned either a certificate for a three-year program of study at Parsons, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree granted by New York University, by taking courses at both schools). A more robust, year-round overseas program resumed at Parsons in the late 1970s under the leadership of Dean David C. Levy. The 1970s also saw the growth of continuing education programs at Parsons, and the introduction of an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree track. In the 1980s, Parsons developed a number of partnerships with international schools, and launched a short-lived merger between Parsons School of Design and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. The first Parsons graduate program was established at Parsons in 1978, in Fine Arts, with masters programs in other areas added in subsequent years, including a Master of Architecture program begun in 1989. The 2000s saw an increase in the number of graduate programs at Parsons, with new programs introduced nearly every year.

As of 2018, the director of the MFA Photography program is Jim Ramer.


Organization and Arrangement

Arranged chronologically by year of submission and within each year in alphabetical order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Theses are submitted to the archives by students in the MFA Photography program, with support from MFA Photography program administrators.


Annual accruals expected. The New School Archives did not receive theses from the Photography Department in 2020, which coincided with the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The department did not transfer theses to the Archives in 2021 or 2022, but thesis transfers resumed in 2023.

Related Materials

Researchers interested in the Parsons School of Design Photography program should consult the following collections held by The New School Archives & Special Collections: Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection(PC.02.01.01) and Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools(PC.02.01.02).

  • Photographers (Occupation) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Photographs (Type of Material) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Photography (Subject) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Theses (Type of Material) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
Guide to the Parsons School of Design MFA Photography program theses
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
July 31, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • December 5, 2019: New School Archives staff added series for 2005-2014 and 2018-2019, updated series and collection-level extents, and updated deaccession notes.
  • November 30, 2020: Anna Robinson-Sweet updated the arrangement note.