The Most Important Insider Tips for applying to Parsons


Parsons is best for students who want to learn to apply the transformative capacity of designing responsibly, creatively, and purposefully.

Applying to Parsons is a little different than most schools because you have to complete the “Parsons Challenge” in order to apply for a BFA program there.

It’s very important to START EARLY on the Parsons Challenge

Give it as much, if not more attention as your Art Portfolio

The Parsons Challenge helps the Admission Committee understand:

how YOU develop ideas

how YOU visually communicate those ideas

and how well YOU can defend the work in writing



Create a new visual work inspired by the theme within a piece submitted in your portfolio.

Support your process by writing one 500 word essay describing how your ideas developed.

All forms of media are acceptable—drawing, video, photography, sculpture, 3D work, collage, and digital images.

(You may also submit up to two additional visual  pieces that document your process.- AND YOU SHOULD!)

Below is an example of a 3-d mixed media drawing made with actual blinds for the Parsons Challenge titled “Window of the Mind”

Parsons Challenge portfolio example - The Window of the Mind


And of course you Art Portfolio is VERY important!

You must submit a portfolio of eight to 12 images.

Portfolios can include drawing, painting, sculpture, fashion design, animation, performance, graphic design or sketchbook pages.

During presentations and portfolio reviews at Ashcan we’ve noticed that they really appreciate experimentation with materials and subject matter.

Your portfolio does not need to specifically address the major to which you are applying, but we’ve noticed that it helps!

Like this former Ashcan student who was awarded a very big scholarship to Parsons for Product Design, who designed and made the Eyeball Camera above and this School S-ELB



Your Art Portfolio and Parsons Challenge must be submitted through SlideRoom


You don’t have to do it alone: were here to support you through the entire application process register here for portfolio prep classes:  Ashcan Registration

or contact us at or 212-967-8101



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