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Parsons School of Design syllabi

 Record Group
Identifier: PC-01-05-01


Consists of Parsons School of Design syllabi compiled by the Office of the Dean in electronic formats between 2006 and 2014. While not comprehensive, approximately 20,000 courses are documented over a seven year period during which Parsons School of Design experienced a significant structural re-organization.


  • 2006 - 2014



2.78 Gigabytes (20,084 files)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

The record group consists entirely of electronically-created syllabi compiled by the Office of the Dean, Parsons School of Design as a function of accreditation documentation and curricular review processes. The Parsons Curriculum Committee (referred to in some documents as the "PCC") appears to have been the primary entity requiring the syllabi for academic program evaluation.

Syllabi were predominantly submitted and saved as PDF and Word files. While the majority of documents are full syllabi including reading lists, grading policies, etc., some are partial syllabi consisting only of weekly calendar highlights. Additionally, Excel spreadsheets and text files documenting efforts to track and maintain uniformity in file naming and format of syllabi submissions are present. Based on these documents, it appears that the record group is not comprehensive as many faculty members neglected to submit their syllabi to either the Office of the Dean or their departmental coordinators. Empty digital file folders are present throughout the record group, indicating that the Office of the Dean may have expected to receive syllabi for a program but did not.

This compilation of syllabi is significant in that they were created during a transitional period when The New School was moving away from publishing full course descriptions in printed and bound catalogs to a fully digital, Web-based platform. These syllabi may represent the only evidence in The New School Archives's holdings of specific courses and their content.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Researchers may access all files in The New School Archives reading room or electronically receive files by requesting specific courses. Requests submitted by alumni or on alumni behalf should include, if possible, the full course code (letters and numbers) from transcripts provided by the Office of the Registrar, in addition to the course title and the semester in which the course was taken. The specific program of study (e.g., Photography) is also helpful for expediting requests. Please contact for appointment or to submit a request.

Use Restrictions

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

Historical Note

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.

During the period covered by this record group, the official name of the school was Parsons The New School for Design. It reverted back to "Parsons School of Design" in 2015. In approximately 2008, the numerous departments and programs in Parsons were re-organized into five distinct schools: the School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT); the School of Art, Media and Technology (AMT); the School of Constructed Environments (SCE); the School of Design Strategies (SDS); and Summer, Pre-College Academy, and Continuing Education (SPACE). AMT absorbed the greatest number of programs: Communication Design, Fine Arts, Illustration, and Photography. SCE was created from the merger of Architecture, Interior Design and Lighting (AIDL) with Product Design. This change is reflected in the organization of the syllabi in this record group.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged chronologically by academic year and semester and within each semester alphabetically by department or program using the original program codes assigned by the Office of the Registrar.

Custodial History

Files compiled and maintained by Parsons School of Design, Office of the Dean. Parsons's Associate Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Lisa DeBenedittis granted Director of Digital Libraries and Technical Services Allen Jones access to the electronic folder so he could copy the files.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred to The New School Archives from the New School Libraries and Archives Digital Libraries and Technical Services unit by director Allen Jones, 2015.

Related Materials

A set of Parsons School of Design syllabi covering the 2002-2003 academic year will be found in Parsons School of Design Office of the Executive Dean records (PC.01.02.02). Syllabi for individual programs or schools within Parsons may be found in the records of those schools or programs if held by The New School Archives and Special Collections.

Processing Information

Folder and file arrangement maintained in same order as transferred from Digital Libraries and Technical Services, including indication of empty folders as evidence of intention to receive syllabi for classes and programs. File names changed to conform to best practices: spaces, punctuation, etc. in file names replaced. The New School Archives maintains a directory of original file names.

Guide to the Parsons School of Design syllabi
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
September 5, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
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