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Parsons Associate in Applied Science Degrees


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I was looking into the Parsons AAS degree program, specifically for Graphic Design. Does anyone here have any thoughts on it or is a prior/current student in that program and can give me their feedback?

I am attracted to the program because it seems to be geared towards career-switchers (I work in finance), it's one year-long, and seems intensive, which is exactly what I am looking for.

Thank you in advance.

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Someone here might be able to help you, but you might have more luck asking in a different venue. This is more focused towards graduate level education.

Although I see from your other posts that you were also considering a master's program. Perhaps you might be able to get some better information if you were to ask about the differences of an AAS vs. an MFA or similar for someone with your situation. As a complete outsider I'd hazard that getting an AAS before getting an MFA couldn't hurt, but is a master's degree your ultimate goal? If so, are you interested in some advice on whether or not getting an AAS first is a decent way to transition fields?

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Thanks for your response. I do have a question for you though. What exactly is an associate degree? It seems like the program is for people who already have BA/BS degrees. It's not a Masters - I know that - but how much weight do associate degrees have in the design world? Am I better of pursuing a graduate degree?

Do you happen to have any thoughts on Parson's graduate Design & Technology program?

Thanks again.

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Thanks for your response. I do have a question for you though. What exactly is an associate degree? It seems like the program is for people who already have BA/BS degrees. It's not a Masters - I know that - but how much weight do associate degrees have in the design world? Am I better of pursuing a graduate degree?

Do you happen to have any thoughts on Parson's graduate Design & Technology program?

Thanks again.

An associates degree is generally for someone who does not already have a bachelor's; they award them at community colleges, generally, after about two years of study. It's possible that this degree is not designed for that, but I suspect that when people hear "associate's degree" they will not think that it is a graduate program at all. You're probably better off with a post-bac certificate, if you can find one in the area, or a graduate degree.

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  • 2 months later...

Hello - AAS GD graduate here.

I can understand everyone's confusion with AAS at Parsons, so I'll try to clarify below. But first, the bottom line: I think of the Parsons AAS GD program as being somewhere between a traditional AAS program (first two years of undergrad) and a regular BA/BFA program. It's not marketed that way, but that's where the level of instruction "feels" to me. You'll take classes that reach into BFA Junior-level territory, but a graduate education this is not (in spite of the fact that many of my classmates told their friends they were "in grad school"). Overall, if you're looking to do advanced studies in graphic design, I think you'd be better off spending a year devouring design books, learning software and then applying to a real MFA program. If you're applying to AAS but haven't been to college yet, I think it's a good way to forego foundation year and get right into a design education. Read on for the long version...

_________

AAS in most parts of the country absolutely means pre-BA/BFA, but at Parsons the AAS programs are thought of (internally, anyway) almost as graduate programs... or, more precisely, "here's your chance at a career change". You get an AAS degree, but nearly everyone in your classes will already have an undergrad degree. Most of the stories are similar: tried accounting and hated it, parents/family/whoever would only help pay for a degree in finance, etc. So in that respect, I think the discussion belongs here. However...

Be aware that the quality of instruction at Parsons can be outstanding, but is VERY spotty. There are instructors who are fantastic and others who will make you want to dive out a window. If you always do your research (check their site, their work, find several people who took their class), you can piece together a pretty great year or two; but the couple of times I didn't do my research - taking one recommendation without checking into it further or taking a class because it was the only instructor available - I got burned and ended up wasting a lot of time and frustration on people who just couldn't teach. If you just pick what's available by schedule instead of by instructor, you're likely to have a bad time.

As far as peers, there were usually a few talented people in each class, but for every genius there seemed to be three students that were mediocre, apathetic or just lacking any potential whatsoever; I think part of the issue with the "second chance" mentality is that a lot of people just can't figure out what they're good at. You often have to share critiques with these people and end up wasting loads of time listening to suggestions that are essentially worthless. Luckily most instructors will provide the bulk of the critique and most of the slackers won't say much anyway (true to their nature). Just be forewarned that since no portfolio is required and the home test doesn't do the best job of weeding out, you're not automatically guaranteed a stellar group of peers.

Advising in AAS is rushed and not especially helpful. You're better off taking the requirements chart they give you and piecing together a curriculum on your own (I did and had no trouble graduating).

I went to Parsons about ten years after studying something else (and not completing my degree). I figured AAS was a good way to get started again since I'd already worked a bit in the field. I also didn't want to risk running out of money halfway through (Parsons is $30k+ for tuition). After finishing AAS, I transferred to the Communication Design BFA program (also at Parsons) and found the whole atmosphere - from advising and instruction through to the student body - to be much more polished and cohesive. AAS has the feeling of something that's been pieced together haphazardly, whereas BFA seems to be an established, dependable structure with focus.

Alright, that was probably far too much info, but hopefully it's useful to someone... I hope I haven't given too unflattering an impression of the program, I just think there's a very narrow range of people for whom it's truly appropriate; it was for me, for the most part - I was just disappointed with certain aspects of the program, especially for the price.

Good luck!

NB: There's some talk of converting the AAS GD program to an MPS (Master of Professional Studies), which I think is comically ambitious and completely inappropriate unless the curriculum gets a monumental overhaul.

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@ Dialect - thank you for your detailed and balanced response. This is exactly what I was looking for. After reading what you wrote, it's clear to me that the AAS program is not what I am looking for. Thank you saving me the time I would have spent looking into it further and eventually visiting the school.

Do you have suggestions for good graudate programs in NYC? I'm interested in communications design, and with a finance background, I was particularly interested in learning more about and possibly pursuing infographics - marrying the analytical and graphical.

Thanks again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm currently finishing my BFA in Graphic Arts now (though not at parsons), so perhaps I can help.

Graphic Design MFA programs are very competitive. Often the students are working artists with impressive resumes who want "paper credentials" aka a diploma. I currently have two professors at my (rather prestigious) art school who are in MFA programs - they have previously been employed by places like nike, adidas, disney world, etc, doing advertisements that you have most likely seen. What I'm trying to say is that the applicant pool for MFA programs is going to be people who are already highly trained and are really looking to perfect their craft.

While you might have the potential to be as great as they are, you seem to have little arts training, which will be expected of you. Have you considered BFA programs? I understand that you would be older than most students, but probably wont be the only student in your scenario. My school has a few people over 40, and really we don't take much notice to that.

I hope this helps, and wasn't discouraging. :wink:

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  • 4 weeks later...

An associates degree is generally for someone who does not already have a bachelor's; they award them at community colleges, generally, after about two years of study. It's possible that this degree is not designed for that, but I suspect that when people hear "associate's degree" they will not think that it is a graduate program at all. You're probably better off with a post-bac certificate, if you can find one in the area, or a graduate degree.

@teagnac & others - I've looked into the NYU SCPS's certificate programs in Digital / Graphic Design. Any thoughts on them? How are they regarded in the industry? Is this one way to effectively "steer a career change"? Or would I just be throwing away my money? Will I be able to build a portfolio out of this?

Thanks again.

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  • 3 years later...

Hello - AAS GD graduate here.

I can understand everyone's confusion with AAS at Parsons, so I'll try to clarify below. But first, the bottom line: I think of the Parsons AAS GD program as being somewhere between a traditional AAS program (first two years of undergrad) and a regular BA/BFA program. It's not marketed that way, but that's where the level of instruction "feels" to me. You'll take classes that reach into BFA Junior-level territory, but a graduate education this is not (in spite of the fact that many of my classmates told their friends they were "in grad school"). Overall, if you're looking to do advanced studies in graphic design, I think you'd be better off spending a year devouring design books, learning software and then applying to a real MFA program. If you're applying to AAS but haven't been to college yet, I think it's a good way to forego foundation year and get right into a design education. Read on for the long version...

_________

AAS in most parts of the country absolutely means pre-BA/BFA, but at Parsons the AAS programs are thought of (internally, anyway) almost as graduate programs... or, more precisely, "here's your chance at a career change". You get an AAS degree, but nearly everyone in your classes will already have an undergrad degree. Most of the stories are similar: tried accounting and hated it, parents/family/whoever would only help pay for a degree in finance, etc. So in that respect, I think the discussion belongs here. However...

Be aware that the quality of instruction at Parsons can be outstanding, but is VERY spotty. There are instructors who are fantastic and others who will make you want to dive out a window. If you always do your research (check their site, their work, find several people who took their class), you can piece together a pretty great year or two; but the couple of times I didn't do my research - taking one recommendation without checking into it further or taking a class because it was the only instructor available - I got burned and ended up wasting a lot of time and frustration on people who just couldn't teach. If you just pick what's available by schedule instead of by instructor, you're likely to have a bad time.

As far as peers, there were usually a few talented people in each class, but for every genius there seemed to be three students that were mediocre, apathetic or just lacking any potential whatsoever; I think part of the issue with the "second chance" mentality is that a lot of people just can't figure out what they're good at. You often have to share critiques with these people and end up wasting loads of time listening to suggestions that are essentially worthless. Luckily most instructors will provide the bulk of the critique and most of the slackers won't say much anyway (true to their nature). Just be forewarned that since no portfolio is required and the home test doesn't do the best job of weeding out, you're not automatically guaranteed a stellar group of peers.

Advising in AAS is rushed and not especially helpful. You're better off taking the requirements chart they give you and piecing together a curriculum on your own (I did and had no trouble graduating).

I went to Parsons about ten years after studying something else (and not completing my degree). I figured AAS was a good way to get started again since I'd already worked a bit in the field. I also didn't want to risk running out of money halfway through (Parsons is $30k+ for tuition). After finishing AAS, I transferred to the Communication Design BFA program (also at Parsons) and found the whole atmosphere - from advising and instruction through to the student body - to be much more polished and cohesive. AAS has the feeling of something that's been pieced together haphazardly, whereas BFA seems to be an established, dependable structure with focus.

Alright, that was probably far too much info, but hopefully it's useful to someone... I hope I haven't given too unflattering an impression of the program, I just think there's a very narrow range of people for whom it's truly appropriate; it was for me, for the most part - I was just disappointed with certain aspects of the program, especially for the price.

Good luck!

NB: There's some talk of converting the AAS GD program to an MPS (Master of Professional Studies), which I think is comically ambitious and completely inappropriate unless the curriculum gets a monumental overhaul.

This was VERY helpful and I'm so relieved to have read your post before attending the informational session for AAS this weekend. How long did you attend the BFA program? What were your reasons to stick with Parsons as oppose to Pratt or SVA? So now that I have read your post I don't think I will apply to the AAS program at all.

You said the AAS program was really helpful so then why did you go to BFA and spend more money?

I look forward to your answers, Thank you!!

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