Continuing Education 2012

Continuing studies in NYC—from computer courses, cooking classes and language lessons to photography classes and yoga instruction.

Illustration: Joe Paul

Shake off late-summer torpor and consider going back to school. There are study options to suit all schedules and commitment levels, from one-day workshops to degree programs, and a growing number are offered online. Have you been meaning to learn Spanish, brush up on baking, turn your hand to welding or gain social media skills? Whether you’re looking for language lessons, cooking classes, computer courses, photography classes or yoga instruction, the range of classes in NYC can be overwhelming. Our edited compendium of continuing studies makes choosing a class or program as simple as ABC.


There’s no shortage of places to study acting in our city of dreams, but the most renowned of the lot are worth seeking out for their integrity and the quality of their teachers. At homey HB Studio (120 Bank St between Greenwich and Washington Sts; 212-675-2370,, founded by Viennese-American actor-director Herbert Berghof in 1945 and known for rigorous training methods, classes abound for every level of student. Technique I with Michael Beckett (Wed 8–10:30pm or Sat 12:30–3pm; 15 classes $375; Sept 4–Dec 21), an actor-director who studied with William Hickey and Berghof himself, is ideal for continuing-ed students passionate about learning as much as they can about the craft of acting as opposed to casually trying it on for size. Utilizing exercises designed to “rid the beginning actor of self-consciousness and the paralyzing fear of being on stage,” the class is meant to give students a sufficient foundation in technique to delve into acting professionally.

Those with more time and money to commit may prefer the immersive Introductory Program at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting (31 W 27th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway; 212-689-0087,, legendary for alums Marlon Brando, Candice Bergen and Robert De Niro—and the guiding belief of its founder, actor and drama teacher Stella Adler, that “the theater exists 99 percent in the imagination.” Choose either the evening option (Tue–Thu 6:30–10:30pm; eight weeks $2,175; Sept 18–Nov 8) or weekend (Sat 10am–7pm; eight weeks $1,675; Sept 22–Nov 10); both multidisciplinary, team-taught intensives, including courses in acting technique, movement, scene study, and voice and speech, give students a taste of the school’s full-time conservatory training—without requiring that you quit your day job.

Magnet Theater (259 W 30th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves; 212-244-2400,, one of the city’s top venues for sketch and improv comedy shows, is also one of the best places to study improvisation, whether you’re just starting out, are an experienced practitioner or fall somewhere in between. The eight-session Level One: Principles of Improv (check website for days and times; $299; after Sept 1 $350) aims to turn students into confident performers, with exercises in agreement, listening, commitment and spontaneity, all of which happen onstage. The course culminates in a show that the school cheekily claims is “usually the highlight of most people’s lives.” If you’re on the fence about signing up, the two-hour Free Intro to Improv is offered regularly on weekends and weekday evenings.—Lee Magill

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Hunter College (212-772-4000, offers a variety of short continuing ed business courses, from Bookkeeping and Budgeting Organization (Tue 5:30–8:30pm; five weeks $300; Nov 20–Dec 18), which guides novices through the basics including accounting terminology and using ledgers and spreadsheets, to “How to Start a Nonprofit Organization” (Thu 6–8pm; six weeks $250; Sept 9–Oct 11). Instructor Shanette Carpenter, who runs a firm specializing in development and branding for nonprofit organizations, guides public-service-sector professionals and volunteers through the practicalities, including management, marketing and tax exemption. Aspiring philanthropists will also get advice on putting together a proposal and approaching corporate sponsors.

Continuing-ed students who want to dip a toe in business-school waters without committing to an M.B.A. can take graded, graduate-level courses at Columbia University School of Continuing Education (212-854-9666, individually or as a certificate comprising four courses (Sept 4–Dec 21). Either way, the classes count toward a degree should you decide to take the plunge (65 percent of students in a recent exit poll did). But the certificate itself may be all you need to boost your business skills. “This summer one of the courses that had the highest enrollment was ‘Developing and Implementing New Ideas,’” says Karl Rutter, director of nondegree programs. “To us, this indicates that there are a lot of people who are interested in entrepreneurial ventures and need a good framework, but they don’t necessarily need the master’s because they have their own area of specialization. For example, they’ve run a restaurant, but they need to understand accounting because they’re going to open a new restaurant, or they want to start an online business and they need to understand the principles of marketing.” Students can choose from a dozen courses, including introductions to finance and marketing, and the new Global Emerging Markets and have access to all of Columbia’s resources, including lectures and seminars (not always the case for nondegree students). It’s also possible to create a custom program in consultation with an adviser to suit your career path, adding classes in another specialty, such as sustainability management or communications practice. Courses can also be completed online.—Lisa Ritchie

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Most of the city’s recreational cooking classes are so entertaining—culminating in the satisfaction of a self-prepared meal, with a drink or two thrown in to break the ice with classmates—that they double as a night out. Those at the Italian-cuisine-focused Rustico (40 W 39th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 917-602-1519,, the school founded by Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking author and chef Micol Negrin, are no exception, and its offerings are especially practical. Its “Ten Best Pasta Sauces” class (Sept 14 6–9pm; $110) will expand the range of any home chef in a mere three hours, teaching participants to whip up spinach linguine in leek cream; gemelli with crab, asparagus and saffron; Tuscan penne in walnut-garlic sauce; and bucatini in chili-pancetta sauce. “Fresh Pasta for Beginners” (Sept 29 noon–3pm; $110) makes the perfect complement, equipping students with the know-how to make all sorts of pasta, from tagliatelle to three-cheese ravioli, from scratch. For a change of pace, the Pizza Workshop (Aug 4 noon–3pm or Oct 6 noon–3pm; $110) demystifies pizza dough while imparting the essential techniques for putting together the classic Margherita and other savory pies, plus a sweet version made with chocolate and apricots.

No baking course in the city is as thorough or affordable as the combo Techniques of Cake Baking I and II (Nov 5–9 9am–3pm or Jan 14–18 9am–3pm; $550) at The Institute of Culinary Education (50 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 800-522-4610, Each part, also offered separately for $295 and able to be taken in any order (see website for details), consists of three five-hour sessions. The first covers pound and loaf cakes, layer cakes, and contemporary and classic sponge cakes, and the second explores individual cakes—such as berry financiers and Rigo squares—cupcakes and chocolate masterpieces like Swiss chocolate roulade.

Wasabi addicts could end up saving money on eating out after taking the Sushi Master Class (Aug 22 6:30–9pm; $70) at the LES Japanese eatery Soy (102 Suffolk St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-253-1158, It teaches participants how to cook sushi rice, the most vital component of all, organize and prepare ingredients, and finally put together California, tuna, veggie and other maki rolls, plus hand rolls. Students take home their own sushi rolling mat.—Lee Magill

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