History and Mission
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History and Mission



For much of its early history, the NYU Division of General Education—today known as the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS)—offered only noncredit courses. In 1948, the Division introduced a two-year liberal arts program, leading to a certificate in general education. Designed to help returning veterans fulfill G.I. Bill requirements, the certificate program also was a significant first step in consolidating the Division’s liberal arts offerings and laying the groundwork for a degree-granting function.

In the 1950s, the Division’s visionary second dean, Paul McGhee, set in motion a process that would culminate in 1964 in the creation of an associate in arts degree program. Limited to students over the age of 21, the program was an immediate success, and by 1970, it included three associates in applied science degrees (in Business, Public Service, and Physical Therapy). A bachelor of arts program for adult students was inaugurated in 1972, along with a two-year general studies program for college-age students. In 1998, the NYUSPS undergraduate degree programs for adults were renamed in honor of Dean Paul McGhee.

Over the years, the Division has evolved to address the needs and support the aspirations of students who wish to return to school to complete their bachelors degree, as well as those who seek to earn their associates degree. Developing a plethora of programs in the social sciences, the humanities, and in the professionally focused industry verticals for which NYUSPS is known, the Division, which has recently been renamed the NYU School of Professional Studies Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies today embraces a mission of providing a truly immersive educational experience to those who are interested in broadening their horizons, building their critical thinking and analytical abilities, and gaining the immediately applicable skills they need to compete and succeed in the evolving global workplace.