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Program Description

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The MA in Critical Studies program offers a unique blend of theoretical understanding and practical application, making it an invaluable opportunity for students seeking to make a tangible impact in today's complex world. At the heart of this program lies the study of critical theory, an intellectual approach that empowers students to deeply understand and critique the various structures that govern our society, such as politics, culture, economics, and ethics.

What sets this MA program apart is its emphasis on not just understanding these critical theories, but on applying them through creative research and real-world engagement. Students are encouraged to take their learning beyond the classroom and into practical scenarios. This is achieved through opportunities such as internships, where theoretical knowledge is applied in professional settings, and thesis projects that allow students to delve deeply into a topic of their choice, demonstrating their ability to conduct comprehensive research and contribute original ideas to their field.

Moreover, the program supports students in developing key professional skills. This includes presenting research at academic conferences, engaging the public through talks and workshops, and honing writing skills across various formats like business, creative, grant, and technical writing. Such experiences not only enhance their academic journey but also prepare them for a diverse range of career paths post-graduation, including roles in administration, advocacy, community engagement, education, and more.

The MA in Critical Studies is not just an academic pursuit; it's a pathway to becoming an influential part of the solution to some of the most pressing issues facing society today.

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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.

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First Thursday at PNCA

MA/MFA Dual Degree Options

A student using the squeegee to distribute ink for a screenprint

MA+MFA Print Media

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Visitor viewing a Visual Studies piece at First Thursday

MA+MFA Visual Studies

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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.

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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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