MA in Critical Studies

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Situated in the context of a 21st-century art school, the MA in Critical Studies pays particular attention to images, examining overlaps and tensions between critical theory and visual studies and investigating the role critical theory and art can play in transforming institutions and ideologies. 

The two-year required course sequence builds from identifying key questions and issues in critical theory to providing students with the methodological, research, writing, and professional skills they need to ask good questions and to investigate those areas of inquiry in a thesis project of their own design. The thesis research occurs during the first year; the thesis writing occurs during the second year, resulting in both an academic research paper finished in the third semester and a work of publishable writing based on the student’s professional interest in the fourth semester.


A highly tailored pathway for each student customized for their field(s) of inquiry.

Open curriculum with opportunities for study across disciplines and programs throughout the school.

MA/MFA option through which MA students can add a third year in any of PNCA’s MFA programs to graduate with a dual MA/MFA degree.
Dual Degree MA/MFA

Visiting scholars and artists including Sarah Schulman, Walidah Imarisha, and Maggie Nelson.

Four-day Caldera Retreat during the second year of the program where students join a visiting scholar and MA Chair for a four-day intensive of study, dialog and community in the beauty and solitude of Caldera located next to Blue Lake at the foot of the Cascade mountains.

Students can span into technology, math and science to enrich their research by creating additional connections to programs such as the Art and Science Initiative and Make+Think+Code.

Scholarships available.

Internships available to complement academic study.

Credit bearing international studies trips.

Professional practice embedded into the program with additional support from PNCA BridgeLab.