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Discover Your Artistic Passion at Parsons School of Design

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Encompassed by New York's eclectic atmosphere, Parsons School of Design inspires students to discover the depths of their imagination. And a wide range of departments helps. From Architectural Design to Fashion Design to Graphic Design to Illustration to Interior Design (and more), Parsons' vast selection allows artists of all kinds to celebrate their passions.

Founded in 1896, Parsons began as the Chase School, named after American impressionist painter William Merritt Chase. As the leader of a small group of artists from the Art Students League of New York, Chase led his group away from school to discover a freer, more dramatic way of expressing art.

Then, a new arrival joined Chase in1904 - Frank Alvah Parsons. Visionary and creative, Parsons "predicted that art and design would soon be inexorably linked to the engines of industry," says the school's website. With this in mind, he put his "prophetic vision" to the test and opened the first program in fashion design, interior design, and advertising and graphic design. Parsons became president six years later and remained in that position until his death in 1930.

After Parsons died, William Odom, who replaced Parsons as president, "renamed the institution the Parsons School of Design to recognize his predecessor's formative influence," says

"By locating visual beauty in the ordinary things of middle-class American life, Parsons virtually invented the modern concept of design in America. From the beginning, the faculty cared about the spaces people lived in, the garments they wore, the advertising they read, the furniture and tableware they used."

The school moved from Sutton Place to Greenwich Village in 1972 and merged with an accredited university, which not only gave the design school a new source of funding, but also a much needed surge of energy. The school's educational "scope" significantly broadened from then on.

Today, with over a dozen departments and degree options - for both undergraduate and graduate students - Parsons strives to equip all creatives with the tools they need to succeed. The design school also offers an AAS in Fashion Marketing, Fashion Studies, Graphic Design, and Interior Design; summer programs for high school and college students; and extended learning courses for non-degree seeking individuals.

New York City, however, isn't the only area where Parsons resides. In fact, the design school was a harbinger for internationally based design schools, being the first to found an overseas campus in 1920. From there, schools in France, Los Angeles, Malaysia, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, and Japan opened. Each affiliate school acted independently; however, the schools shared Parsons' "philosophy and teaching methodology."

The only two affiliate schools to remain today are the Paris School of Design in France and the Altos de Chavón School of Design in the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, Parsons has lost none of its international allure. Thirty percent of the school's students come from beyond U.S. borders.

But its uniqueness doesn't end there.

According to the school's website, "Parsons has no admission formula. Each applicant is reviewed individually with regard to his or her own experience, achievement, and potential for artistic growth. Significant consideration will also be given to academic credentials. Many applicants have had substantial art training in high school or college, while some have had little or none. While Parsons recognizes the benefits of strong artistic preparation, some applicants are admitted based on their academic strengths more than their visual material."

The school of design has also played host to Bravo TV's popular show, Project Runway, where design mentor Tim Gunn presides as chair of Parsons' Fashion Design Department. For three seasons (soon to be four), Project Runway has challenged designers of all ages and backgrounds to perform grueling tasks with limited budgets, tough competition, and harsh criticism. One by one, designers are eliminated until at last, one remains - the winner of $100,000 and a mentorship to help start the winner's own line, along with a new Saturn Sky Roadster.

Whether interested in fine arts, photography, fashion, or architecture, artists and designers come from all over the world to step behind the doors of Parsons School of Design to discover their passions. Today, approximately 3,100 undergraduates and more than 400 graduate students call Parsons home. Will you be next?
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