Professional Pathways

Graduates of the MA in Critical Studies program are uniquely positioned to embark on diverse and impactful professional pathways post-graduation. The skills and insights gained during the program open doors to a variety of fields. Graduates can pursue roles in administration, leveraging their organizational and analytical skills in various sectors. Advocacy and community engagement positions allow them to apply their knowledge toward social change and community betterment. In communications, public relations, and writing - encompassing business, creative, grant, technical, and report writing - they can use their proficiency in conveying complex ideas effectively. The program also prepares graduates for roles in curation and exhibition-making, where they can influence public discourse through art and culture. In the burgeoning fields of diversity, equity, and inclusion, their deep understanding of societal structures is invaluable. Editing, education, instructional design, learning & development, and research are other areas where their skills in critical analysis, communication, and innovative thinking are highly sought after. These varied pathways reflect the program’s emphasis on versatile, real-world skills that empower graduates to shape and influence various sectors meaningfully.

The Office of Career Design

The Office of Career Design offers resources that include workshops, information sessions, one-on-one career advising, networking opportunities, and a strong alumni network to support your professional development.

Lynn Brown, Director

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We connect students with opportunities for paid work including on-campus positions and off-campus internships. Internship opportunities are also available to international students.

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Plotters, scanners, 3D printers, large-scale printers, and other facility equipment in the Make+Think+Code Technology and Research Lab Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA).

Creative Technology Lab

Students can enrich their research by creating additional connections to Creative Technology Lab, the art and technology lab at PNCA. Critical Studies students can access the lab's digital tools or work one-on-one with Megan McKissack for training and independent studies

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Global Studios Berlin trip

Credit-bearing international studies trips

Featured Alumni

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Ashley Hollan


Ashley Hollan is a visiting assistant professor in the Art Department at Elon University. Hollan earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University with a double major in public policy and visual art/art history, earned a law degree from the University of Denver, completed entertainment industry master of business administration coursework at Berklee College of Music, and earned a master of arts in Critical Studies and a master of fine arts in Visual Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Hollan has owned a law firm with a focus on entertainment law and criminal defense with a catalog of clients that included touring bands, solo artists, visual artists, authors, app developers, managers, publishers, record labels, small business owners, actors and producers with scripted, unscripted and documentary film and television projects. She then joined Live Nation, serving first as an artist rights consultant and then as associate counsel supporting the Legal, Productions, Media, and Sponsorship divisions. As a freelance creative, business, and legal consultant, Hollan works with creative people of all types, including acclaimed producers with a focus on documentary content, international touring artists in various genres, companies whose creative content includes important political messaging, law firms, alternative art practitioners, cannabis companies, disruptive business leaders, visual artists, and writers. Her nonprofit and leadership roles include service for Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts in Tennessee and Georgia, the American Bar Association’s Entertainment and Sports divisions and Young Lawyers Divisions, where she was awarded “Star of the Quarter,” and the Immigration Justice Project, where she received an American Bar Association Commission on Immigration Pro Bono Week Award in 2021.

Headshot of Eileen Isagon Skyers

Eileen Isagon Skyers

Arts Administration

Artist and curator Eileen Isagon Skyers has nearly a decade of experience producing online exhibitions at non-profit and contemporary arts institutions including David Zwirner, Rhizome, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Through recent roles in curation and creative direction for various web3 platforms, she has conducted extensive research on contemporary digital art and culture in an effort to understand the community-building potential for artists working on the blockchain. She is the co-founder and CCO of a new cultural fund called Gemma.

Skyers's own moving image work has been exhibited in the US, UK, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Mexico. Her first book, Vanishing Acts, looked at the role of network-based art practices, and her writing has been published in Frieze, Hyperallergic, and Dirt, among other publications.

Headshot of Iris Williamson

Iris Williamson

Arts Administration

Iris Williamson (she/her) is a curator, arts administrator, and educator. She is the Founding Partner and Director of HOLDING Contemporary in Portland, OR. Most recently, Williamson directed and curated exhibitions and public programs at New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Southern Indiana (New Harmony/Evansville, IN), taught Contemporary Art Theory at Portland State University (Portland, OR), and was 2021-2022 Curator-in-Residence at the University of Oregon's Center for Artistic Research (Eugene, OR). Previous curatorial projects include enter:gallery (NYC), Dugg Dugg (Charlotte, NC), Southern Holiday (Charlotte, NC), and programming for the City of Charlotte, NC during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Williamson has held positions at institutional and commercial art spaces throughout Oregon, New York, and the South, including the roles of Program Director at Converge 45, Assistant Director and Curator at Pacific Northwest College of Art's Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, Studio Manager at Allied Works Architecture, and Associate Director at HAP Gallery. Williamson received an MA in Critical Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art, a BFA in Studio Art and Art History from the University of Florida, and a certificate in Museum Studies from Northwestern University. She is currently the Director of Exhibitions at Maine College of Art and Design.

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​Sean Yeager


Sean Yeager is currently a PhD in English Candidate at Ohio State University. Sean earned his M.A. in Critical Studies from PNCA by performing a data-driven study of the temporal structure of narratives. This research was awarded the Paul Fourtier Prize for best paper by an emergent scholar at the 2019 Digital Humanities conference by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. Sean received his M.Sc. in Physics from Texas A&M University with a focus in particle physics and cosmology. He performed data analysis for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, and also contributed to the search for the Higgs Boson.

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​Ellena Basada

Independent Scholar

Ellena Basada holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Pomona College and an MA in Critical Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where she was the recipient of a Hallie Ford Research Scholarship and served as Founding Editor of the art-criticism journal Discursive Impulse. She is the organizer of online platforms Affect Zoom Salon and Ad.Doc Archive, which aimed to build globally accessible intellectual communities during the pandemic. Her work— a hybrid of research, criticism, and fiction— has been supported by Fulbright Germany, the Oregon Institute for Creative Research, and Vermont Studio Center. Find her writing in Expat Lit Magazine, Spike Art Magazine, ScienceOpen, LA Review of Books, and Vice, among others.

Julian Adoff


Julian Adoff is pursuing his PhD in Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is continuing to develop the research he began as a dual degree student in the MA in Critical Studies and MFA in Visual Studies programs at PNCA. As an art historian, his research centers around the history of graphic design, cultural theory, and visual/design culture, focusing on the political, social, and commercial effects of ephemera, with a specific interest in the use of these mechanics within the history of nationalism.

Headshot of Alley Pezanoski Browne

Alley Pezanoski-Browne


Alley Pezanoski-Browne grew up in a family dedicated to the arts, education, and social justice. She brings 15 years of experience in thought leadership, as well as project and team management, from nonprofit arts administration and documentary production. Most recently she was the Development Director at Open Signal Portland Community Media and Executive Director at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She has produced projects for Netflix, Microsoft, South By Southwest, and PBS. She has a MA in Critical Theory from Pacific Northwest College of Art and a BS in Communications from Northwestern University. She was a Fulbright Scholar to Hong Kong in 2007.

Schedule a visit

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

Photo by Adam Simmons, PNCA Class of 2017