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Program Description

Ma in Critical Studies logo

The MA in Critical Studies at the Pacific Northwest College of Art merges theoretical knowledge with practical application, equipping students to critically analyze and impact societal structures in politics, culture, economics, and ethics. This program is distinguished by its focus on applying critical theory in real-world contexts. Students engage in internships and comprehensive thesis projects, allowing them to apply their learning in professional environments and delve into specialized research topics. The program also fosters professional skill development, such as public engagement, diverse writing competencies, and presenting at academic conferences. These experiences prepare graduates for a variety of careers in administration, advocacy, education, curation, and more, positioning them as influential contributors to societal change.

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Combine an MFA with an MA in Critical Studies

Our dual-degree option allows you to pursue an MFA in Visual Studies or MFA in Print Media while pursuing an MA in Critical Studies and complete both degrees in three years.

MA/MFA Dual Degree
First Thursday at PNCA

MA/MFA Dual Degree Options

A student using the squeegee to distribute ink for a screenprint

MA+MFA Print Media

MA+MFA Print Media
Visitor viewing a Visual Studies piece at First Thursday

MA+MFA Visual Studies

MA+MFA Visual Studies


A dock by a lake from the Critical Studies Caldera Program

Thesis Writing Retreat

During the second year of the program students join faculty for a multi-day writing retreat including intensive study, dialogue, and community at Caldera Arts Center in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Pacific Northwest.

Catastrophe, Yale University, September 22-23, 2023

The English Institute

The MA in Critical Studies Program is an Institutional Sponsor of The English Institute, a major resource for developments in criticism, theory, and scholarship.

The English Institute

Program Highlights

Visiting Scholars

Conversations are enlivened by visiting writers and scholars throughout the year. These visiting scholars and writers include Ocean Vuong, Maggie Nelson, Sarah Schulman, Walidah Imarisha, Shayla Lawson, C. Riley Snorton, Z. Nicolazzo, Allan de Souza, and Cheryl Strayed

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Schedule a visit

Get in touch with MA in Critical Studies Chair, Shawna Lipton: slipton@willamette.edu to schedule a campus visit or to learn about the program today.

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