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 Applied Craft + Design, MFA in Visual Studies, MFA in Print Media, or MFA in Collaborative Design while pursuing an MA in Critical Studies and complete both degrees in three yearsLearn More
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
The Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies presents the Class of 2022 MFA/MA Thesis Presentations and Graduate Thesis Exhibition.
"Unsettling Nature: Ecology, Phenomenology, and the Settler Colonial Imagination," an Interview with Dr. Taylor Eggan
An interview with Assistant Professor in PNCA at Willamette's Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies, Dr. Taylor Eggan, about his latest publication, "Unsettling Nature: Ecology, Phenomenology, and the Settler Colonial Imagination" (UVA Press, 2021)
(Portland, OR) The Center for Contemporary Art and Culture and the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies at PNCA are pleased to present Time In-Between: Temporal Matter(s), a group exhibition of new and recent works by all First Year MFA Graduate Candidates and Post-Bacc Programs students. On view February 21st - March 9th, 2022.
Find your Critical Community: Apply Now for the MA in Critical Studies Program
Dr. Shayda Kafai will join the MA in Critical Studies program for a classroom visit on January 31, to discuss her book Crip Kinship: The Disability Justice & Art Activism of Sins Invalid.