MA in Critical & Curatorial Studies

Gain theoretical and professional training in curating in the Master of Arts (MA) in Critical and Curatorial Studies (CCST) at UBC, Vancouver.

Critical and curatorial studies is a field of scholarship and training that looks directly at curators and critics’ roles and responsibilities as mediators between objects, institutions, experiences, individuals, and groups.

While this involves investigating and negotiating various disciplinary fields, from ethnography to aesthetics, organizational behaviour to cultural studies, your main focus in the CCST MA is on contemporary conditions of display and understanding.

Our program addresses the growing need for curators and critics who have theoretical knowledge and practical experience in analyzing institutions, preparing displays and communicating about contemporary art.

  • Offers to graduate students: 4-5 annually
  • Full-time residency requirement: two years (30 credits)
  • Average number of years for residency: two years
  • Foreign language requirement: one foreign language*
  • MA paper required: yes (9 credits)
  • Minimum number of courses: eight (24 credits)
  • Number of courses required outside of the major area/hemisphere: no requirement, but six credits out of 30 allowed outside the department
  • Minor area of concentrations required: no
  • Qualifying exams required: no

*Courses taken to fulfill the language requirement are not counted toward the MA degree's required credits.

Program Outcomes

Our program alumni are:

  • Able to engage productively with critical discussions of art and visual culture
  • Capable of developing and working with new modes of exhibition
  • Able to work creatively in both traditional and innovative situations
  • Familiar with issues and institutions affecting art and visual culture in their exhibition contexts

Program Structure

CCST students must take three graduate seminars that engage with historical frameworks and contemporary contextual issues within curatorial practice and case studies in exhibitions and institutions. These popular seminars are open to other graduate students, and they foster interesting dialogues on issues surrounding curation.

In the Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies, students supplement their knowledge with art history courses and are allowed to take additional credits outside the department. By the end of the program, students must achieve reading knowledge of a language other than English (appropriate to the student's interests).

The CCST program requires 30-credits of which 21-credits are in critical and curatorial studies; these include:

  • CCST 500 (3 credits)
  • CCST 503 (9 credits)
  • CCST 501 or CCST 502 (3 credits each)
  • In addition, all students across MA CCST, MA ARTH, and PhD ARTH are required to successfully complete ARTH 571 (6 credits)

The remaining 9-credits may be chosen from art history or other departments as per the following guidelines.

  • Students must select a minimum of six credits from the graduate-level courses in art history, ARTH course designation.
  • Up to 3 credits of coursework may be from outside the department.
  • Students can repeat a seminar if the content is substantially different and if a different instructor teaches it.

* Courses taken to fulfill the language requirement are not counted toward the MA degree's required credits.

MA students in critical and curatorial studies participate in a graduate practicum. During the graduate practicum, students gain professional experience through the research, planning, and realization of a significant project. CCST students are expected to rationalize their exhibition in written work and presentations at various stages during its production. The practicum exposes students to the practical and theoretical concerns of exhibition creation and are rewarded in their endeavour with local, and in cases, national and international exposure.

The final requirement for the MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies is the major paper. This extended essay provides CCST master's students with the opportunity for original and in-depth research on a topic related to the themes examined in their thesis project.

  • ARTH 531 (3/6) Early Medieval Art
  • ARTH 533 (3/6) Medieval Art
  • ARTH 535 (3/6) Early Modern: Renaissance
  • ARTH 537 (3/6) Early Modern: 17th-Century Art
  • ARTH 539 (3/6) 19th-Century Art
  • ARTH 540 (3/6) 20th-Century Art
  • ARTH 543 (3/6) Canadian Art
  • ARTH 548 (3/6) Architecture
  • ARTH 550 (3) Art in the Islamic World
  • ARTH 551 (3/6) Chinese Art
  • ARTH 553 (3/6) Japanese Art
  • ARTH 555 (3/6) South and Southeast Asian Art
  • ARTH 561 (3/6) Indigenous Arts of the Americas
  • ARTH 571 (6) Methodology of Art History
  • CCST 500 (3) Seminar in Interdisciplinary Frameworks in Museum and Curatorial Studies
  • CCST 501 (3) Seminar in Contemporary Contextual Issues for Museums and Curatorial Practice
  • CCST 502 (3) Case Studies in Museum and Gallery Exhibitions
  • CCST 503 (3) Graduate Practicum and Major Paper in Curatorial Studies (restricted to CCST students)

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