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New School course descriptions collection

Identifier: NS-05-02-01


Consists of printed course description packets produced primarily for undergraduate classes offered at The New School, with Eugene Lang College and Parsons School of Design particularly well-represented. Packets include information regarding class schedules, instructors, credit hours, degree requirements, and curriculum.


  • 1983-2012
  • Majority of material found within 1996-2007



1.7 Cubic Feet (2 boxes, 1 folder)

.001 Gigabytes (1 PDF file.)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents of Collection

The collection consists of analog, printed course description packets for classes offered at Eugene Lang College (formerly Seminar College), Parsons School of Design, and by the University Undergraduate Liberal Studies program. Packets include information regarding the academic calendar, registration, class schedules, instructors, credit hours, degree requirements, and curriculum, including electives and online courses. Some packets include updated course information with changes and additions to the first publication in a printed course catalog. Additionally, lower level classes (those at the 1000 level) sometimes do not appear in published course catalogs, so these course descriptions are the only record in The New School Archives of first-year courses. The University Undergraduate Liberal Studies Curriculum packets include information for students across Eugene Lang College, Mannes College of Music, and Parsons School of Design. The packets include descriptions of selected courses offered across divisions that fulfill program requirements. Additionally, courses offered in conjunction with Parsons associate (AAS), undergraduate (BFA and BBA), and graduate-level programs are covered in the packets. Once the university began transitioning from analog, printed course descriptions to digital, online course descriptions in the mid-2000s, compilation and distribution of these course packets ceased. Course data in digital formats downloaded from the university's website and extracted from the database, Tableau, will be found in a separate collection, NS.05.02.02. Much of this data is publicly accessible outside of The New School Archives's website at the following URL:

Access Restrictions

For course descriptions available in digital form, researchers are required to consult the digitized versions, which are publicly accessible online. Researchers wishing to consult the originals should write to, stating the reason for the request.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Historical Note

The New School for Social Research was founded in 1919 as an institution of higher education devoted to adult learning. As the school grew into a university, this original division was alternately known as the "Founding Division" or the "Adult Division." In 1943, the school was divided into two schools, the School of Politics, and the School of Liberal Arts and Philosophy. At this time, in response to the needs of returning veterans wishing to take advantage of the GI Bill, the school began a program called Senior Year at the New School. Geared toward adults who had previously completed some coursework, the program offered undergraduate credits for some courses and awarded bachelors' degrees. However, the majority of students continued to take non-credit courses. Although The New School offered some undergraduate credits beginning in the 1940s, the first full-time day program was not established until 1972. Called the Freshman Year Program, it initially focused on college-level courses for high school students or recent high school graduates, who would then matriculate elsewhere. The program expanded as the Seminar College in 1977 and further grew in 1985 with a large donation and new name, Eugene Lang College.

In 1933, the New School for Social Research established the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science. Also known as the "University in Exile," the division was founded in order to host German and other European scholars who left their countries of origin to escape political and racial persecution. The Board of Regents of the State of New York granted a provisional charter in 1934, allowing the Graduate Faculty to confer Master of Social Science and Doctor of Social Science degrees. This was the first time the New School for Social Research offered credits leading to a degree to students in any of its programs. In 2005, the Graduate Faculty changed its name to The New School for Social Research, reclaiming the founding name of the entire institution, which had been dropped eight years before.

In 1970, Parsons School of Design became affiliated with The New School. The American artist William Merritt Chase founded the school in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. It went through several name changes (New York School of Art, New York School of Fine and Applied Art), but from early on the school was connected in the public's mind to the school's charismatic president, Frank Alvah Parsons. In 1942, the Board of Trustees officially renamed the school Parsons School of Design.

In 1997, the New School for Social Research was officially renamed New School University. The founding division, still devoted to adult education, was given the general name The New School, now comprising one of seven divisions of New School University. In 2005, the school underwent another series of name changes, which led to the overarching organization being called The New School, while the adult education program was named The New School for General Studies. This name was changed in 2011, when the adult education program was called The New School for Public Engagement and combined with the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, which until that time had been a separate division.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged chronologically by date of publication.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Due to high demand for information contained in these records, The New School Archives staff assembled this collection from a legacy collection (the Parsons Institutional Collections Printed materials record group), and through transfers from various administrative offices, particularly the Office of the Provost and the Dean's Office of Parsons School of Design.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds collections of New School course catalogs (NS.05.01.01), Parsons School of Design course catalogs (PC.05.01.01), and College of Performing Arts course catalogs (MM.05.01.01). Earlier course catalogs will contain course descriptions, but in the 1990s, the university began shifting course description to these course packets, using the catalogs for more generic information. The New School Archives also holds syllabi for Parsons School of Design courses from 2006 to 2014 (PC.01.05.01).

Processing Information

The present collection brings together two previously discrete artificial collections of course description packets, one of Parsons School of Design course descriptions, 1984-2006 (PC.05.02.01), and one of New School undergraduate course description packets. This work was carried out in part because descriptions of undergraduate humanities and liberal arts courses open to Parsons School of Design students were filed with the New School course descriptions (NS.05.02.01), requiring researchers to search for course descriptions across two collections. The previous finding aids featured file-level titles assigned by archivists for clarity and consistency. The revised finding aid features titles that more closely match inscriptions on the packet title pages. 0.4 linear feet from legacy collections were de-accessioned during processing because the documents were found to be duplicative once the two collections were combined, were found to be photocopies when originals existed, or were not course descriptions but rather academic calendars, registration instructions, room assignments, or unrelated items.

Guide to the New School course descriptions collection
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
August 27, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • October 27, 2020: New School Archives staff added Parsons School of Design course descriptions to container inventory, retitled components to match inscribed titles, and updated extent. Additional collection-level description contributed.
  • August 5, 2021: New School Archives staff added a