History & Mission

General Mission

Established in 1934, the NYU School of Professional Studies has fostered a rich tradition of serving the City and the world, by providing educational experiences that prepare students who are just beginning on their career path, as well as those who are seasoned veterans. Through undergraduate and graduate degrees, career advancement courses, certificate programs and diploma programs that span a plethora of industry-related disciplines, the School has shaped the very landscape of professionally oriented education. In the classroom, in the field, and online, our programs have inspired the next generation of leaders, to innovate, communicate, and succeed in a constantly changing world that offers limitless opportunity.

1930s. The School launches as the Division of General Education (DGE). With nearly 25% of the U.S. workforce unemployed, DGE offers training programs for social workers and establishes the Reading Clinic to improve the literacy skills of adult job seekers. Career-focused programs and centers are introduced including the first real estate appraisal course, the Center for Graphic Design, and The Radio Workshop.
1940s. DGE opens a War Training Center in response to the nation’s urgent need for skilled technical workers. To elucidate wartime changes in the tax code, DGE holds the first NYU Institute on Federal Taxation, which has since become an annual event. With the end of World War II, the GI Bill enables returning veterans to attend college and enrollment soars.
1950s. DGE holds a three-day conference on nuclear technology to address the need for a more educated citizenry. It also develops the first NYU course ever to be televised, Today’s English, which leads to Sunrise Semester, the Emmy Award-winning NYU/CBS co-production, that airs on CBS from 1957 through 1982. DGE is renamed the Division of General Education and Extension Services (DGEES). Enrollment surpasses any other individual school at NYU.
1960s. DGEES is at the forefront of issues in a decade marked by social and political upheaval. Associate degree programs are offered for the first time, and a four-year, part-time study program is developed for students age 21 and over. This program eventually evolves into the Paul McGhee Division. The School is renamed the School of Continuing Education (SCE).
1970s. SCE launches the Institute for Paralegal Studies; new diploma programs in real estate, data processing, and systems analysis; and the ground-breaking, two-year General Studies Program, which prepares students for transfer to a four-year college or university. The Midtown Center opens at 11 West 42nd Street - headquarters for the Real Estate Institute - which continues to thrive today as the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate.
1980s. SCE deepens its involvement with New York’s leading industries and with the professional, creative, and public sectors that define the City’s role in the world. The School greatly increases practitioner-taught course offerings in IT, publishing, construction, and hospitality. The Master of Science in Real Estate is launched, eventually growing to become the largest program of its kind in the country.
1990s. SCE continues to lead in the exploration of virtual and internet-based learning with the creation of The Virtual College. Five new master’s programs are added including: Hospitality Industry Studies, Tourism and Travel Management, Publishing, Direct Marketing Communications, and Management and Systems. SCE is renamed the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS) in recognition of its increased focus on professional programs.
2000s. The decade opens with the inauguration of the Downtown Center in the historic Woolworth Building, home to the School’s Center for Global Affairs. It concludes with the unanimous approval by the NYU Board of Trustees for SCPS to acquire and to renovate a permanent, flagship home at 7 East 12th Street, an occasion, which coincides fortuitously, with the School’s 75th anniversary.
Today. NYU-SCPS continues to grow as an essential resource for learners of all ages, enrolling nearly 50,000 students annually. Increasing numbers of international students populate its classrooms. Study abroad options abound for those individuals who wish to broaden their horizons globally.  Online credit and non-credit offerings continue to expand as the School positions itself as a leader in executive education and distance learning.