Parsons School of Design – Acceptance Rate, GPA, and More

Parsons is among the top design schools in the United States and is situated in one of the world’s most exciting and stimulating cities – NYC. 

Students benefit from a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum and a “learn by doing” approach. The learning environment is intimate, with over 90% of classes housing fewer than 20 students.

One of Parsons’ assets is its first-year curriculum

All BFA candidates enroll in the same course sequence, designed to provide a strong foundation in the tools, approaches, and talents utilized in various art and design mediums. 

Following Year 1, each student works closely with an advisor to determine a major and career path. Students can choose from 11 BFA concentrations, such as communication design, product design, and interior design. 

There is also a BBA in Strategic Design & Management, which merges artistry with entrepreneurship. 

The BFA in integrated design is a particularly appealing option. Students engage in sustainability, service design, fashion, and urban design classes. 

Graduates from this program proceed to launch their careers as consultants in their areas.

By the end of their BFA, each student at Parsons will have participated in an internship for compensation or academic credit. In placements at HBO, Nike, the International Rescue Committee, and other recognizable organizations, students engage in various tasks and design projects. 

These internships prepare them to be successful in their careers after graduation.

Parsons is one of seven colleges that make up The New School and is the most populated. 

The following article will summarize the Parsons acceptance rate, GPA, and standardized test score requirements. 

You’ll surely recognize several alumni names before we dive into the tuition and financial aid data. Finally, we’ll share how to apply to Parsons through The New School. 

Spoiler alert: the application includes a challenge you won’t find at most other schools!

Parsons School of Design Acceptance Rate

The New School Parsons School of Design
Beyond My Ken, Parsons David Schwartz Fashion Education Center 560 Seventh Avenue, CC BY-SA 4.0

The acceptance rate at Parsons is 63%.

Parsons parent university, The New School, enrolls 7,632 undergraduates. Nearly one-third of students come from more than 115 countries outside the United States.

How does the Admission Committee determine which applicants get into Parsons? 

Several items carry much of the “weight” in the admissions process. 

Most notably, the application readers pay special attention to applicants’ essay responses and the Common Application essay response. 

The latter is not required, though we strongly encourage students to complete it.

Parsons also wants to bring in talented writers, thinkers, and creators. 

For BFA candidates, much emphasis is placed on the Parsons Challenge online portfolio elements, which we will detail in the following sections. 

While an applicant’s academic records, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation are undoubtedly vital, the application’s more open-ended, creative elements give the Admission Committee a better understanding of how the applicant might fare in Parsons’ learning environment.

Parsons School of Design Alumni

Parsons is home to a host of heavy hitters in the design world. 

The school’s network of notable alumni includes world-renowned costume designers, filmmakers, interior designers, digital designers, and fine artists.

Designer and filmmaker Tom Ford is one of the most recognized Parsons names. 

Best known for pumping life back into the deteriorating Gucci brand, Ford started his fashion line in 2005 and has continued to experience global success. 

An interesting fact is that Ford actually graduated with a degree in interior architecture before he made a name working in various fashion houses.

Parsons also graduated one of the most important Hollywood costume designers in history: Gilbert Adrian

You’ll surely recognize some of Adrian’s best creations, including Dorothy’s blue and white gingham dress and ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz

Once Adrian added shoulder pads to actress Joan Crawford’s costumes, the trend took off – women embodied a more masculine silhouette while men left to fight in World War II.

American filmmaker Joel Schumacher started at Parsons, initially as a fashion designer. He directed Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, The Phantom of the Opera, and several episodes of the television series House of Cards.

Fashionistas may recognize the names of Parsons alumni Mark Badgley and James Mischka. 

The two created the American fashion label Badgley Mischka, best known for its shoes and gowns reminiscent of the glamorous Old Hollywood era. 

Other illustrious Parsons grads include clothing designer Alexander Wang, founder of DwellStudio Christiane Lemieux, and painters Jasper Johns and Normal Rockwell.

Parsons GPA & SAT/ACT Requirements

Parsons School of Design has no mandatory minimum scores for the SAT or ACT, nor does it stipulate a minimum grade point average for admission. 

That said, admission is moderately competitive, and the school publishes GPA and standardized test score ranges for admitted students.

31% of admitted students maintained a GPA of 3.75 to 4.0 before entering Parsons School of Design – this translates to making As in most, if not all, high school classes. 

Approximately half of the first-time first-year students joined Parsons with a GPA between 3.25 and 3.75. Only 8% of admitted students had a cumulative GPA between 2.5 and 2.99.

Parsons School of Design has not disaggregated their standardized test scores from The New School as a whole, though we can assume that the window of test score ranges is comparable. 

Most recently, The New School published an average ACT composite range of 25-30, considered relatively high but attainable. 

When it comes to the SAT combined Mathematics and Evidence-based Reading and Writing sections, incoming students ranged between 1150-1380.

The New School (and, therefore, Parsons) does not require submission of SAT or ACT scores as part of the application process. 

That being said, students can still choose to submit their scores, should they believe the scores will enhance their application’s competitiveness. 

We already know that standardized test scores are not a significant factor in the overall application review, and it may be more worthwhile to focus energy on other application components, which we’ll elaborate on in the following sections.

How to Get Into Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design hopefuls start the application process by submitting the Common Application to The New School. 

There is a $50 fee for U.S. domestic applicants (or $75 for international applicants), which can be waived if the applicant proves their veteran status, Fulbright Scholar status, or association with programs like the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and AmeriCorps, to name a few.

Next, it’s time to focus on one of the most critical parts of the Parsons application: the required essays

Last year, the Admissions Committee issued two mandatory prompts. 

In 200-400 words, students were asked to discuss what they find appealing about The New School and what social issue or construct they would endeavor to affect change through their academic pursuits at The New School.

There are several materials that students will ask others to submit on their behalf. 

These include two letters of recommendation – one from a counselor and one from a teacher – as well as the School Report, official high school transcripts, and any college transcripts (if the student is applying as a transfer).

As previously mentioned, Parsons does not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores. 

However, they ask that all applicants whose native language is not English submit up-to-date English language proficiency exam scores (from the past two years). Typically, the TOEFL will suffice.

Here comes the fun part – the portfolio and Parsons Challenge. BFA applicants must submit a portfolio to the Admission Committee composed of 8-12 slides. 

The slides can house a range of media, and students are encouraged to demonstrate their range of skills as well as creative risk-taking and experimentation. 

While the portfolio focuses on prior work, the Parsons Challenge inspires applicants to create a new visual work inspired by a piece from their portfolios. 

The new work should be accompanied by a 500-word essay describing the creative process and motivation for designing the new work. 

Students can draw, paint, sculpt, film, take pictures, make collages, and more! The point is to convey how they conceive ideas, choose media, and convey a theme using that media.

Should You Apply to The New School Parsons School of Design?

Creative students who are determined to pursue a career in design should absolutely consider applying to the Parsons School of Design. 

After all, the school boasts the #1 national ranking among design schools, according to the 2021 QS World Rankings!

A sizable portion of students receives work-study grants (2,000+), and 85% of all New School students receive financial aid. 

Parsons uses scholarships, grants, fellowships, and stipends as part of its financial aid packages

Parsons also offers grants, loans, veteran programs, and work-study placements. All students admitted to Parsons are automatically eligible for merit scholarships.

Applicants must submit the FAFSA and other pertinent financial aid documents to be considered for need-based financial aid. 

Fall applicants have until February 1 to submit the FAFSA, while spring applicants have until November 1. 

Another reason why creative students should apply to Parsons is because they have an early action program. 

Those who gain admission through the early action cycle can rest a little bit easier during their senior year and focus on finishing the year out strong – this is because they receive their admission decision several months before regular decision applicants find out their fate. 

Fall early action admission notifications are distributed in mid-December; fall regular decision decisions are released in mid-March; and Spring decisions are sent out on a rolling basis, beginning in November. 

Based on all that Parsons has to offer its creative-minded students in the bustling New York City area, it’s a no-brainer to apply! 

Previous articleUniversity of Michigan Early Action Acceptance Rate & Decision Date
Next articleUNC Early Action Acceptance Rate & Decision Date