Design Schools: Parsons and Pratt?


I've read lots of entries discussing the Ivies, Sci-Arc, Rice, UCLA, Berkeley, etc on archinect. But what about the smaller design schools such as Parsons and Pratt. Any opinions? Why aren't they discussed? Not as respected? Poor quality of work produced, resources, etc.? I'm coming from a non-architecture background, so I don't know what to expect or what to look for in the different schools.

(For clarification, I discovered this site after I submitted my applications and I ended up applying to Columbia, Pratt, Parsons, UPenn, and Berkeley)

Feb 8, 05 6:12 pm

i assume u applied to arch programs?

imo, i think there isn't much discussion of pratt/parsons b/c those schools aren't very well publicized. Not as many printed publications come out from those schools as opposed to the ivies, and so it's hard to know what's happening there.

but then again, i know nothing about either school. just speculating...

Feb 8, 05 6:26 pm

My two cents:
I think Pratt is easier to get into obviously. Part of this is probably due to the fact it may be better academically than Parsons, the other part to this is the fact Parsons is in Manhatten and many Architecture students dream about studying and living in Manhatten as oppossed to Brooklyn for Pratt, therefore more prospective student probably apply to Parsons. I would imagine Parsons would have more resources too because it's part of The New School in New York and it's more expensive. Pratt has more minorities. Parsons has more gay people, not that there's anything wrong with that. But what the hell do I know, I just applied to Parsons and was turned down.

Feb 8, 05 6:31 pm
Minimal Animal

Parsons and Pratt are both great schools. Pratt is more "architectura'" in a sense that the program seems to be more rooted in architecture than Parsons, which seems more rooted in art and cross-disciplinary notions...

I applied to Pratt for my Masters...and got in...but it was SUPER-EXPENSIVE....add that to living in NYC and you've got something to worry about..

my 2 cents..

Feb 8, 05 7:15 pm

Pratt is a undergraduate program, but their Masters program sucks.

I got my BARCH there and I didn't regret one bit of it, but it is expensive though.

I agree with minimal about it is a little more serous than Parsons. If were you, I would get into a technical undergrad program first, then transfer to pratt later, because Pratt dosent teach you much about real world situations.

Feb 8, 05 7:37 pm

if you're into "theory" at all, the Parsons/NewSchool combo can't be beat. Right or wrong, Pratt has always seemed to me more about placement than "learning" if that makes any sense.

Feb 8, 05 7:56 pm
Tim DeCoster

db hit it right on the head. Theory. Anyone desiring to take a step outside of reality for their studies really ought to consider Parsons. I like the fact that it is small and has all the resources of NYC - both in context and in its accessibility to outside personalities.

GT+.... Did you apply for this coming fall?

Feb 8, 05 8:49 pm

I applied to MArch programs. I have an undergrad in chemistry, so I have no intentions of transferring at any point in the Masters program (as ARCHITKD mentioned).

Thanks for the info so far. But I am not sure if Parsons is better b/c it's more expensive and a part of New School. I have a friend that goes there for a diff grad program and she complains about the lack of resources as compared to other schools.

Feb 8, 05 11:31 pm

No, I applied for last fall and was denied. I couldn't have afforded it anyway and Parson's doesn't offer that much financial aid from what I discovered.

Feb 9, 05 11:09 am

The best paid gig I’ve ever had was working for an artist. This whole starving to death deal is strictly an architect thing.

Art’s more of a high risk, high return investment where as architecture is just a bad deal.

I only know these places from having friends who teach at them and living near Pratt for a while and hanging out a bit for lectures and things.

It seems like both places have a lot of young faculty with high hopes of improving the school but Pratt is struggling to overcome a series of entrenched problems with their finances and, I would say, a bit of an art-school-as-daycare-for-worthless-rich-kids culture that comes from having to take people who can shell out for the program.

Parsons isn’t cheap either but it’s a strong design school and it seems like some interesting things are going on there. I’d go for that one.

Feb 10, 05 1:19 am
Cheyne Owens

I received Pratt's studio book and was very impressed. Just call the school and ask them to mail you one.

Parsons book was horrible and felt like a complete advertisement.

I was accepted to Parsons. I called the school about scholarship and was told by an admissions counselor "if you want to pay for it you find a way" I was really disgusted with their attitude.

When I looked at Pratt I was practically accepted on the spot (which was way sketchy) I'd still pick Pratt. I know two people who went there and loved it.

(just a public school kid from a third tier what do I know)

Feb 10, 05 1:10 pm

threads, it doesn't sound like you chose Pratt in the end. So where did you end up?

Feb 10, 05 2:49 pm

According to the NAAB website, Pratt's M.Arch program is not currently accredited. I'm not sure when it's up for accreditation, but if it doesn't get accredited within 2 years of your graduation, then you could have a hard time getting licensed.

Feb 10, 05 7:02 pm

Parsons has a great four-year program very conceptual, and a lot of emphasis is based on image: Computer renderings, beautiful drawings and so on. But like some one stated already you’re stepping outside the realms of the real world, and in some instances I would argue Architecture. There student exhibition last year was amazing….. Very talented students and faculty.

If i could do it all over again I would have done my four-year there. Then Grad school…

Feb 10, 05 9:12 pm

jbc, thanks. i never considered the consequences of Pratt's current non-accreditation status.

Sean and newstreamlinedmodel, thanks for the tips on Parsons. I'm going to try to go to a couple of lectures and exhibits there this month to see exactly what they are teaching their students. Parsons has a "Design Workshop" where students design a structure and then build it, don't you think this is a good example of reality (versus a program where one merely designs, but has no concept of construction)?

Feb 11, 05 11:31 am
Lisa Findley

lking; too bad you didn't look a bit more out west....CCA's new M'Arch is looking pretty good, even if their website is uninspired. It's also not yet accredited, but that is the works....

Feb 11, 05 12:33 pm

shouldve applied to risd

Feb 11, 05 5:26 pm

i know a guy in the grad program at parsons who told me that with the merging of parsons/new school, funding is low. this conversation took place last year, so things might have changed since then. i visited, and space is cramped (to be expected of an nyc school), and the work is not particularly cutting edge, but the faculty are predominantly young professionals in the city, which could be good for networking, etc.. it sounds like it's what you make of it.

Feb 11, 05 6:41 pm

I'm sorry is CCA the California College of Art?

Feb 11, 05 6:55 pm

I know a few people who went to Parson's and loved it...I know nothing about Pratt...visit.

I hear no one speaking about Rensselaer in Troy, NY...Bill Massie is teaching there and he is on the cutting edge of CNC...I also believe he went to Parson's...He had a great lecture at the UNM architecture school two weeks ago.

Feb 11, 05 6:57 pm

when choosing schools I was confined to the NYC region for various reasons (and I decided to apply to Berkeley on a whim). I did consider RISD, but after talking to several people I heard that RISD students were super competitive, creating and unfriendly environment.

Feb 12, 05 12:46 pm
bryan boyer

RISD was not brutally competitive when I was there last year...

Feb 12, 05 4:42 pm

Parsons is on 38th street which is good because it's next to that bead store... mmmmm..... beads......
It's a tiny school though, and it is known to produce dressmakers rather than architects. I don't know jack about Pratt, only that these kids with whom I hung out on St. Mark's went there. And they didn't seem very intelligent. I signed up for Cooper Union and I hope to get in there.

Feb 12, 05 8:23 pm

The part of Parsons that is on 38th street is the Fashion department. The majority of the school is in buildings from 11th to 14th street in the general vicinity of Fifth Avenue.

Parsons is one division of the New School for Social Research (and has been for +/- 20 years.) The New School has one of the largest enrollments of any university in the US, albeit most of this is in continuing ed programs. The New School has impressive resources in and of itself, but Parsons students also belong to a consortium that allow them to take classes at Cooper Union, and to use libraries and certain other resources (though not athletic facilities) at Cooper and NYU.

The architecture program is in a loft space in a building on 13th street, overlooking 14th street. The space is shared with undergrads and with the lighting design program. Many support courses have both M.Arch students and undergrads in them - there is a great deal of overlap between the programs.

Facilities are generally cramped but adequate. Studios are not open 24 hours. Most faculty do not have offices. Most do not have any office hours or presence at the school outside of their regularly scheduled course hours. The vast majority of faculty are working professionals, which has good and bad points. Much of the faculty also teaches elsewhere - some overlap with Columbia, Princeton, Yale, NJIT. Program lacks strong system of student support - i.e. you're likely to have a different "advisor" every semester, and chances of getting more than 20 minutes of formal "advising" per semester are unlikely.

Program is pretty intense. While there appears to be great opportunities for cross-registering in the numerous grad programs within the New School, classes at Cooper, etc. it is VERY difficult to fit anything into the schedule outside of the architecture department. Scheduled hours of studios are routinely disregarded - expect crits to run HOURS past their scheduled times and to have CONSTANT deadlines. It's difficult to have an outside job or other activities. Not a lot of flexibility in scheduling because program is too small to offer more than one section of most courses. Required curriculum doesn't allow for more than 1 or 2 electives in first 2 years.

Financial aid is fairly limited for grad programs. More than half of Parsons students are international students and for them in particular there's almost no financial aid available. Students are from a great variety of backgrounds. School is not the most competetive in terms of admissions so students' abilities/backgrounds vary widely. There's a high drop-out rate but those who last 1st year usually are up to (or rise to) the challenge.

Parsons has a good career office. They lack a lot of other "campus" type stuff - like a gym, many student groups or activities, etc. - the city is expected to serve as the campus, and for most who choose the program this is what they're looking for.

Feb 12, 05 8:40 pm

Bloopox, thanks for the details. Did you attend Parsons? If you did attend, did you enjoy the program (i.e. is it worth while...did you get anything out of it...would you choose it again?).

Feb 13, 05 1:23 am

Pratt will find out in late winter / early spring whether or not it passed its most recent accreditation review. According to the staff, things look very positive.

The plusses....
Students generally seem to like the program. Staff are young/enthusiastic and many are cross-appointed with columbia. The MArch classes are small; less than 20 per year, and they are divided into two studios. If you have a decent GPA, you should get financial aid, at least for your first year. Not enough to cover the whole bill (5000-9000?). The department is in a nice building with good studio space. A good graduate lecture series.

The minuses...
The administration there is disorganized and everyone has a struggle with them at some point.

The neutrals...
The campus is a bit off the beaten path; there are a million reasons to love Brooklyn, and Pratt campus is on the edge of one of the nicest neighborhoods (Fort Green) and also one of the more run down neighborhoods (Clinton Hill). Campus always seems to be under construction, but that could mean that some great improvements are on their way.

Feb 13, 05 8:51 am

I am considering Parsons for one of my options but am really scared of their 40 percent acceptance rate. For those of you who have applied there, have you guys been interviewed?

Also, if you have gotten interviewed how are the interviewers? I am scared and would like to get some advice from you guys.


Feb 14, 05 12:30 am

does anyone know what the acceptance rate is for pratt m.arch 1?

Feb 14, 05 6:23 pm

Pratt campus is on the edge of one of the nicest neighborhoods (Fort Green) and also one of the more run down neighborhoods (Clinton Hill).

you know what's even stranger is that 10 years ago it was the exact opposite.

Feb 14, 05 6:28 pm

Has anyone received any letters or anything regarding M.Arch I for Pratt??

Mar 18, 05 10:53 am

I haven't heard anything from Pratt

Mar 18, 05 1:57 pm
ahr ki tehkt

anyone heard of njit?

Mar 18, 05 5:57 pm

I've heard of it, but i don't know much about the program.

Mar 18, 05 6:34 pm

ahr ki techkt- my teacher says that njit is a pretty good school and that they are doing some exciting things too...

just got accepted to Parsons last week but still waiting on UIC and Pratt. For Parsons I didnt have to have a interview, the director just gave me a call...might go to open house if i can..

Mar 20, 05 8:12 pm

Which is better parsons or pratt? i guess it depends on the program but im in a pre-professional program so i want the better march1 program

Mar 20, 05 8:14 pm

gyrlusocute005 ,

I dont know which ones better, but when I visited both schools two years ago, I really liked what the students did there, and it seemed like a nice environment for myself to do my graduate studies, I guess it depends on the person, but I'm visiting the schools again during Parsons Open House, so hopefully, by that time, I will hear something from Pratt, then I can make a decision, but personally, I don't think I would mind going to either schools, they're both really my top choice, since they were the only schools I applied to.

Mar 20, 05 10:28 pm


what do you think about the price though? i just taked to the director today and he said that finacial aid is few and far between...the idea of going 100,000 in debt is not comforting to me...

Mar 21, 05 11:20 pm

ahrkitehkt -njit has a great undergrad program, (although i was accepted in 96 and this may have changed, but in looking at their lecture series, it seems to have gotten better) i didnt go even with a full scholarship because basically, while the program was good, the rest of the school severly lacked resources (in the sense its a technological school, not liberal arts, and your class selection is limited) and the location is really not the best. although again, it seems to have gotten better . . . and you can see nyc from the studio.

Mar 22, 05 12:48 am

ive been hearing mixed things about pratts march . . .

i just got accepted marchII. it looks seriously expensive and its been frustrating getting in touch with them about aid from the department.

is the program really not that strong? i applied partly on the suggestion of an old alum and also cause i fell a little bit in love with what i thought they had to offer. now im wondering.

Mar 22, 05 12:53 am

gyrlusocute005, i'm worried about that high price tag for parsons as well. i'm still waiting to hear from a few other schools, but i think parsons and pratt will be low on my list b/c of the high expenses and little financial aid.

Mar 22, 05 8:42 am

i think everyone is all worried about the high price tag for these two schools, as i am too, as for myself, i'm an international student from canada, so, no matter what i do or beg, there will be next to nothing for me in terms of financial aid or scholarships, its been two years since my undergrad degree in arch. sci. so i've been working and saving up as much as i could to offset the debt in the end.

i have a friend from my school going to pratt right now, and he got advanced placement, so he only has to go there for two years, i'm keeeping my fingers crossed that if pratt accept me, they would put me in advanced placement too, eventhough its only one year off total of three years, but still a big chunka change to save up..

.i've looked into other schools, and it seems that these two are within my abilities to be able to get accepted and seems to be quite a challenge for me to study there....

Mar 22, 05 12:51 pm

lking-i have been talking to my instructors and unless you have about 100,000 dollars hanging around in your pocket, grad school money or no money will be expensive. so i am really considering parsons. i think that besides the school, you are getting what you pay for. the networking, connections, and opprotunites far surpass when i am geographically right now. yes ohio is home to two good schools, OSU and UC but opprotunity wise they dont compare. so what it will really come down to is what is best for you.

Mar 26, 05 11:55 pm

tobykirchener-have you actually visited parsons? and if so when?

Mar 26, 05 11:56 pm

lking-if you feel so badly about parsons...dont go...i know it is ivy people on here and that is great but your degree in arch is not the know all to end all. it is definately what you make it. if you are hung up on school names like most people are... then go elsewhere

Mar 27, 05 12:17 am

thanks gyrlusocute005. i started this thread b/c i really had no idea about parsons and pratt's grad programs. i don't feel badly about parsons, i really was unfamiliar with the school and had no opinon. i was looking for others' impressions of parsons. i'm by no means saying that ivy is the only way to go, but i wanted to make sure that if i ended up at parsons that i wouldn't get frustrated b/c of a lack of resources or complicated admin or few networking communities or non-responsive faculty, etc. these things can also happen in an ivy school, but i guess that the "name" can at times become a security blanket and i was spoiled in my undergrad education. i've experienced it myself, just b/c you graduated from a certain school people will be more willing to hear you out or allow you to first get your foot thru the door. that's the main benefit i see of going to an ivy, you're joining an elite club.

i have come to realize that wherever i end up, it will be expensive. which is still hard to grasp b/c my friend who is in the field that i used to study just got a full ride to brown, and she's an international student. but i traded in that field a long time ago and i have no regrets. honestly, i just want to study architecture right now and i want to stay in new york. i will be at parson's open house on the 11th

Mar 27, 05 10:15 am
Pratt Accredited
Mar 27, 05 3:18 pm


i visited two years ago december, and i'll be going to the open house to check things out again...

Mar 28, 05 7:02 pm

Yes Pratt is accredited, but I am not sure if I would want to go to a newly accredited program....they are still building on the foundation of things

Mar 30, 05 12:24 am
Luis Fraguada

I visited Parson's, Pratt, and Columbia recently before sending off applications. Parson's stood out because of the studio space. It is a large, large room where all levels of students have studio. Cool space. I was not impressed with the facilities, but not necessarily disspaointed either.

Another thing that stands out at Parsons is that David J Lewis (LewisTsurumakiLewis) is the Director of the Master of Architecture program. Their publication in Pamphlet Architecture: Situation Normal was very influential for me during undergrad.

I was accepted to the program with a scholarship. financial aid did not cover everything by any means.

I have a few friends at Pratt, and they are dissapointed. I really don't know what that means because I am not going there, and don't specifically know the circumstances of their dissapointment. Also was accepted to Pratt with a small scholarship.

Also have some friends at Columbia. They enjoy it. I liked the building/campus. I was accepted there as well with a scholarship.

In the end I chose environment first and decided to go to school in London . . .

Apr 16, 05 11:46 pm

wisof ,

what was your impression of Pratt when you visited?

Apr 17, 05 9:59 am

toby, did you attend the parsons open house? what did you think?

i went and was very impressed. i was actually able to ask a lot of questions and found that many of Bloopox comments above are not shared by the current students and faculty. aside from the financial aid being sucky, i was told that the faculty are overly accessible, the undergrad and grad programs are completely separate (they do not share classes or studio spaces), this year's admissions was pretty competitive (300 applicants for 24 spaces), etc.

it seems like a great program.

Apr 17, 05 5:59 pm

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