About The New School

Founded in 1919, The New School was born out of principles of academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. Committed to social engagement, The New School today remains in the vanguard of innovation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students challenging the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The New School welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and calendar of lectures, screenings, readings, and concerts. Through its online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.


This is the hour for the experiment; and New York is the place, because it is the greatest social science laboratory in the world and of its own force attracts scholars and leaders in educational work.”

- Proposal for The New School, 1918

In 1919, a few unconventional thinkers, including historian Charles Beard and philosopher John Dewey, imagined an educational venue where they could discuss ideas without censure. They published a brochure listing their lectures and opened The New School to all “intelligent men and women.” America’s first university for adults was formally named The New School for Social Research in 1922 and offered a curriculum that emphasized the social, political, economic, and educational issues of the time. The celebrated scholars who taught in the first few years included Lewis Mumford, Bertrand Russell, and Felix Frankfurter.

The second school of The New School, the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science (now known as The New School for Social Research), was founded in 1934. It was also home to the University in Exile, conceived in 1933 by New School President Alvin Johnson to provide a haven for European intellectuals and artists endangered by Hitler and Mussolini. Notable scholars including Hannah Arendt, Franco Modigliani, and Max Wertheimer spent time here in the years surrounding the war. With the establishment of the Graduate Faculty, The New School became a degree-granting university, and in 1943 it began granting BA degrees to meet the educational needs of returning World War II veterans and other adults. The tradition of adult education, both noncredit and degree, continues today at The New School for Public Engagement.

In 1964, the J.M. Kaplan Center for New York City Affairs was founded as the first U.S. academic institution devoted to studying a single metropolitan area. The Kaplan Center evolved into the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy (now Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy located within The New School for Public Engagement) in 1975. That same year, a full-time, undergraduate liberal arts program was also established. The school was renamed in 1985 to acknowledge the support of educational philanthropist and New School trustee Eugene M. Lang and is now known as Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts.

The arts have featured significantly in the university’s history. During the 1930s, Martha Graham taught dance; Aaron Copland, music; Berenice Abbot, photography; and Frank Lloyd Wright, architecture. In 1940, exiled stage director Erwin Piscator launched the Dramatic Workshop, which featured faculty members Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler and included students Tennessee Williams and Marlon Brando. Today, the university boasts four schools devoted to excellence in the arts:

  • Parsons School of Design (now Parsons The New School for Design) became the fourth major academic school of The New School in 1970. Founded in 1896, Parsons has long been one of the nation’s leading colleges of art and design.
  • New York City conservatory Mannes College of Music (now Mannes College The New School for Music) attracts students from around the world who wish to study classical music with professional musicians at the top of their fields. Founded in 1916, Mannes joined the university in 1989.
  • The legacy of the Dramatic Workshop was revived in 1994 when the university established a graduate school of dramatic arts. The New School for Drama offers training in acting, directing, and playwriting, including a recently introduced BFA in Dramatic Arts
  • The fruit of the university’s long association with the cultural avant-garde of New York City; The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music is the university’s seventh division. Established in 1986, it offers a BFA in jazz performance and a five-year BA/BFA degree in collaboration with Eugene Lang College

In the past 15 years The New School experienced a major evolution, transforming into a comprehensive university. It doubled the number of full-time faculty, extended tenure across academic divisions, dramatically increased the number of students enrolled in degree-granting programs, and improved campus governance. This transformation is embodied by The New School’s newest and most significant addition to its Greenwich Village campus, the 16-story University Center.

The New School’s Mission and Vision, approved by the Board of Trustees in 2013, describes a university that honors its legendary history as it looks forward: “The New School’s future will be shaped by the core values that have defined our past: academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation.”


The New School is a major, degree-granting university where design and social research drive approaches to studying issues of our time. United by the core values of academic freedom, tolerance and experimentation, The New School prepares its more than 10,500 students to understand, contribute to, and succeed in a rapidly changing society, and thus make the world a better and more just place.


Degrees awarded: Undergraduate (AAS, BFA, BBA, BA, BS); Graduate (MFA, MA, MARCH); Dual Degrees with Lang. Parsons The New School for Design is the premier degree-granting college of art and design in the nation, whose graduates and faculty illuminate every short list of the creative, management, and scholarly forefront in every realm of art and design. Choice professional internships, interdisciplinary collaborations, and international study opportunities augment Parsons 29 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs encompassing 34 areas of study. Responsive to societal needs and predictive of cultural trends, Parsons makes tangible, usable, and beautiful the New School mission of bringing positive, innovative change to the world.


Degrees awarded: Undergraduate (BA, BS, BFA); Graduate (MA, MS, MFA, Ph.D.); Dual Degrees; and Graduate Certificates in Continuing Education Program. Breaking down traditional academic silos and placing civic engagement at the heart of learning, The New School for Public Engagement is a unique enterprise in higher education. The division was formed in 2011 through the integration of The New School for General Studies, home of adult and continuing education (the founding programs of the university) and Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, created in 1975 to offer graduate study in public administration and civic life. From graduate degrees to individual continuing education courses, each of The New School for Public Engagement’s programs seek to connect theory to practice, support innovation in culture and communication, and encourage democratic citizenship through lifelong education. The division offers a Bachelors degree in Liberal Arts, Environmental Studies, or Global Studies and certificate programs across six areas, including screenwriting, film production and Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Public Engagement student can earn Masters degrees in Media Studies, TESOL, and Creative Writing. And under the banner of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, the division offers leading graduate degrees in International Affairs, Nonprofit Management, Organizational Change Management, and Urban Policy Analysis and Management, and an esteemed doctoral program in Public and Urban Policy. In addition, The New School for Public Engagement is home to more than 650 continuing education courses taught by scholars, artists, and other professionals who practice what they teach.


Degrees awarded: Undergraduate (BA, BS, BFA); Dual Degrees with Parsons, Jazz, Milano, and The New School for Social Research. Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts provides an exceptional undergraduate experience for recent high school graduates and young transfer students from around the world for whom the traditional template of the ivory tower is too far removed from the issues and intrigues of the world at large. Under the mentorship of faculty advisors, Lang offers a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in 14 different majors. With Greenwich Village as campus and recognized scholars, writers, and artists as instructors, students at Lang enjoy a unique advantage over their peers at other institutions.


Degrees awarded: Graduate (MA, MS, Ph.D.,); Dual Degrees with Lang. The New School for Social Research is the graduate center for the core social sciences and philosophy that began its life, in 1933, as the University in Exile, the legendary haven for refugee European scholars. Here, world peace and global justice are not theoretical ideals; they are the central, practical goals of every course of study. As demanding ethically as it is academically, Social Research awards masters and doctoral degrees in Anthropology, Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology; and offers interdisciplinary MA programs in Historical Studies, Global Political Economy and Finance, and Liberal Studies. For those up to the task of aligning the world with the possible, there is no greater training ground than this venerable, ever-current institution.


Degrees awarded: Undergraduate (BS, BM); Graduate (MM, Professional Studies Diploma) Mannes College The New School for Music is a preeminent conservatory of classical music located in the preeminent American capital of classical music. Mannes provides a professional trajectory for the serious graduate or undergraduate student of music; nurturing preparatory instruction for children from 4 to 18 years of age; and classes for adult students at every level of proficiency, including beginners. The Mannes community is made of students from every corner of the world and instructors from the heights of the world of music: scholars, composers, conductors, and performing artists from some of the worlds most revered orchestras, ensembles, and opera companies. Of the more than 400 concerts produced by the school each year at its two concert halls or at venues throughout the New York metropolitan area most feature Mannes students. An extraordinary level of training, opportunity, and exposure is the hallmark of Mannes The New School for Music.


Degrees awarded: Undergraduate (BFA); Dual Degrees with Lang. Jazz, the only way to learn it is to live it. So that’s the way we teach it at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Through intensive study with master players in the center of the Jazz universe, you’ll steep in the music’s traditions while being pushed to scale its boundaries with your own distinctive sound. Here, you can earn a BFA or a combined BFA/BA in conjunction with Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. Faculty members are renowned professional musicians who will teach you as much about working as they will about playing, in small, ensemble classes augmented by exceptional performance and internship opportunities. New School Jazz fuses art, life, and education to produce a new breed of Jazz, blues, and contemporary musician artistically, professionally, and academically ready to take on the world.


Degrees awarded: Graduate (MFA, BFA) The New School for Drama takes talent; then it works, shapes, and nurtures it to an exquisite dimension of readiness for a life and career in the theater. Artistic voices as distinctive as Tennessee Williams and Marlon Brando found their singularity here, under the wing of founder Erwin Piscator and a faculty including Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. Today’s students are taught by a cadre of notable New York theater professionals to achieve that same authority of authenticity, as they work toward an MFA in Acting, Directing, or Playwriting. Classes are small, demanding, and gloriously rewarding. And with theater in the air and on its streets as surely as on its hundreds of stages, New York City provides an unrivalled curriculum in observation and an incalculable wealth of professional opportunity. At The New School for Drama, the aspirations of serious actors, directors, and playwrights are taken seriously and taken far.