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There is no changing the world without first apprehending it.
Critical theory provides a toolkit for comprehending the dominant structures of the world, how they affect us, and how they can be transformed. With these technologies of understanding we can interrogate and act across political, ethical, cultural, and economic registers. Practically, critical theory can help us think through some of the most pressing issues of our time, including: assaults on bodily autonomy, solidarity with struggles for indigenous sovereignty, the proliferation of authoritarianism and creeping fascism, and the acceleration of climate collapse.
Critical theory gives scholarly credence to the very pragmatic idea that knowledge can have a positive impact on society.
The two-year MA in Critical Studies program combines the study of critical theory with the practice of creative research, so students learn not only to critique but also to intervene, reimagine, and remake.
Students are supported by faculty and mentors to present research at academic conferences and symposia, facilitate public talks and workshops, publish writing, and develop plans to continue their intellectual and cultural work upon graduation.
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.Learn More
MA/MFA Dual Degree Options
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.
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.Learn More
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
See All Program News
Graduating Critical Studies Scholars Present Their Theses
The 2023 cohort of Critical Studies scholars are graduating this May. Come support them when presenting their theses!
2023 MFA Thesis Exhibition Announcement
We are thrilled to announce Pacific Northwest College of Art's 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibition!
On view across three locations in downtown Portland, Oregon May 4 ~ May 21, 2023
Please join us for a First Thursday Opening Reception on May 4 from 5pm - 8pm!
PNCA Alumn Eileen Isagon Skyers at TED2023
PNCA alumn, Eileen Isagon Skyers, was selected to present at TED2023!
Join us! Eric Stanley Atmospheres of Violence Book Talk
Friday March 3 1:30-4:30 413 (During Queer Theory)
Join us Friday for Eric Stanley's discussion on their book Atmospheres of Violence.
PNCA Alumn, Iris Williamson, Appointed Director of Exhibitions at Maine College of Art & Design
After a competitive national search, alumn of PNCA's Hallieford School of Graduate Studies, Iris Williamson, was selected as the new Director of Exhibitions at Maine College of Art & Design.
Schedule a visit
Get in touch with MA in Critical Studies Chair, Shawna Lipton: email@example.com to schedule a campus visit or to learn about the program today.Email Request Info