About Parsons Scholars

The Parsons Scholars Program is a three-year college access and preparation program in art and design for NYC public high school students.  During their sophomore through senior year in high school, students from a wide range of high schools dedicate their Saturdays and summers to studying art and design at the college level, exploring a range of art and design careers and acquiring the tools and knowledge necessary to gain admittance to and achieve success at competitive art and design college programs.



This three-year curriculum includes a range of classes in the Parsons Pre-College Academy as well as in the Summer Intensive Studies program, complemented by weekly activities and field trips that expose the Parsons Scholars to the wide range of college and career opportunities within the arts.  In addition to faculty and staff, the Scholars are supported by a dedicated team of Undergraduate Mentors– many of whom are Parsons Scholars alumni or have an interest in education and community engagement– who share insight on their own transitions into college.

The Parsons Scholars Program is a need-based scholarship, which includes all costs associated with the 2.5 years of the pre-college program.  Applications are accepted from 10th graders every October and students are notified by January.



Our tight-knit community is the core of our success. The Parsons Scholars Program takes pride in creating a supportive space that stems from a deep mutual respect across staff, students, faculty and mentors. This bond often lasts well beyond high school graduation, and the majority of our alumni stay involved as mentors-- sometimes returning as guest speakers and in a few cases as youth advocates and faculty. We all benefit from a space that recognizes the importance of our identities as people of color, people from low income backgrounds and first generation college students. We find strength in acknowledging the obstacles and the beauty associated with these identities.


Over the span of 2.5 years, students in the Parsons Scholars Program explore a range of studio coursework in Saturdays and during summers and have the opportunity to earn 6 college credits. Parsons Scholars build art & design skills, learn college research and admissions processes, financial aid literacy, and how to navigate higher education. Our goal is for students to make well-informed decisions about their education and career paths.


Youth advocates — artists and designers who can relate to our mission and are highly committed to our mission— guide the Scholars through their 2.5 years in the Parsons Scholars Program. Current college students who are also relatable and committed to our program's goals act as accessible role models for the Scholars and support all programming. This intergenerational community of artists and designers with common goals makes for a rich support network.


Because the Parsons Scholars Program is committed to supporting the Scholars’ long term commitment to preparing themselves for a rigorous art & design college experience, it is equally as important for our program to address the obstacles that often stand in the way of our students’ success. Parsons Scholars learn how to advocate for themselves as they navigate institutions of higher education and creative industries. Parsons Scholars Program staff, faculty and administration collaborate to create university programming and advocate for university policies that are inclusive of students of color, students from low income backgrounds and first generation college students. We recognize that these issues of access are rooted deep in history, and require attention on multiple levels.


The Parsons Scholars Program recognizes that we are one of the only — if not the only— space where students from underrepresented backgrounds are exploring art and design as a potential educational and career path while explicitly exploring the role our identities play in those paths. We currently accept twenty four Scholars per year out of 100+ applicants, and are committed to maintaining our program at a size that allows for close personal interaction. We are also committed to providing public programming and resources for the hundreds of incredible youth from NYC public schools we have the fortune of meeting during our application cycle. Parsons Scholars have created a web resource (www.scholars.artfuturenyc.com) for youth from underrepresented backgrounds who want to learn about creative fields. As co-founding members of Art Future NYC, the Parsons Scholars Program collaborates with organizations such as Joan Mitchell Foundation and Ashcan Studio to create events for students such as Portfolio Redefined, Art Degree Demystified, and the Careers in the Arts Fair, and the NYC Portfolio Summit for educators and art school admissions reps. We are also proud to be a resource for industry professionals who are enthusiastic about our mission.


The Parsons Scholars program is made possible by endowments established by Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence, The Haus of Gaga Fund for the Parsons Scholars, Sara Little Turnbull Foundation, The Kay Unger Family Foundation, Kaelen Haworth, and STAPLE Design. Additional support is provided by The New York Community Trust, Theodore Luce Charitable Trust, LF USA, The Pinkerton Foundation, Phyllis B. Kriegel, Jessica Weber, Maggie and Robert Boroujerdi, Jennifer Andrus Burroughs, The Chan Family Foundation, Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation, The Robert and Alison Davis Family Foundation, Bloomingdale’s, William and Jane Corbellini, Beth Rudin DeWoody, The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation, Harvey and Audrey Feuerstein, Cynthia Friedman, the GC Scholarship Foundation, A. Mark Gibbel, Henry and Barbara Gooss, Victoria Hagan, OXO, Lela Rose, LuAnn Via, and other generous donors.