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Program Description

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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. The program is designed to help students develop modes of thinking, writing, and making that cross disciplinary boundaries.

Situated in the context of a 21st-century art school, Critical Studies examines overlaps and tensions between critical theory and visual studies and investigates 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 and cultural studies 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 writing occurs during the second year, resulting in both an academic research paper and opportunities for public scholarship based on the student’s professional interests.

Graduates of the Critical Studies program have gone on to pursue doctoral degrees, Fulbright fellowships, nonprofit work, arts administration, curatorial careers, teaching, entrepreneurship, publishing, and public scholarship.

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MA/MFA

MA/MFA Option

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. Learn more about the Dual Degree MA/MFA.

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MA/MFA Dual Degree Options

MA + MFA Applied Craft and Design

MA+MFA Print Media

MA+MFA Visual Studies

Teaching Assistantships / Graduate Fellowships

Teaching Assistantships are an opportunity for students who are interested in teaching to gain valuable experience in a leadership role in the classroom during their time as a graduate student. Once enrolled, students have the opportunity to apply for Graduate Fellowship awards.

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Bridgelab Career Services

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

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Opportunities

C3:Initiative

Internships

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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Caldera interior

Four-day Caldera Retreat

During the second year of the program, 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.

Credit-bearing international studies trips

Students can participate in special international studies trips such as Global Studio Berlin with Dr. Brigitte Salami.

This multi-disciplinary social science seminar (available for art history credit) uses the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall as a springboard for an in-depth investigation into the political, social and artistic heritage of this global metropolis. It considers the role of Berlin and its artists (and architects) during the Kingdom of Prussia, the Weimar Republic and World War I, the Third Reich (the Greater German Reich under the Nazi regime) and World War II, and follows its history through and beyond the country’s occupation by Allied Forces and its division into a communist and a capitalist nation) during the Cold War.

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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).

Make+Think+Code

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, the art and technology lab at PNCA.

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Scholarships

Scholarships

Many forms of financial assistance are available to our students.

Merit scholarships are assessed based on the student’s personal history of scholastic achievement, as well as their contributions to culture and community. Consideration will also be given to traditionally underrepresented students and those who demonstrate financial need. No separate application is required for merit scholarships.

MA students can apply for Teaching Assistantships which afford students the opportunity to work in the classroom and gain pedagogical experience pending completion of a Critical Pedagogy class. TAs are compensated per semester once they are placed in a class.

Students are encouraged to apply for external scholarships. These can be found by searching online databases including the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool, and sites such as Fastweb, Scholarships.com, and Scholarshipsportal.

Leadership Scholarships for Black, Indigenous, and Non-Black Students of Color

One full tuition scholarship (renewable each year for up to 2 year for an MFA or MA student and up to 3 years for a Dual degree student) will be awarded to a Black/African American student.

One full tuition scholarship (renewable each year for up to 2 year for an MFA or MA student and up to 3 years for a Dual degree student) will be awarded to an Indigenous, Native American, or non-Black student of color.

Two scholarships of $5,000 each (renewable each year for up to 2 year for an MFA or MA student and up to 3 years for a Dual degree student) will be awarded to a Black, African American, Indigenous, Native American, or non-Black student of color.

Program Highlights

Visiting Scholars

Conversations are enlivened by visiting writers and scholars throughout the year. These visiting scholars and writers include Maggie Nelson, Sarah Schulman, Walidah Imarisha, C. Riley Snorton, Z. Nicolazzo, Allan de Souza, and Cheryl Strayed.

Publication

Art Discourse

Art Discourse is a platform for writing that explores the aesthetic, political, and social dimensions of art and design. It is published by the MA in Critical Studies program in collaboration with the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA.

Art Discourse

Events

Schedule a visit

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

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