Visual & Critical Studies Graduate Programs

Mar 21, 2018

Interested students may pursue a graduate degree in visual and critical studies at the master's level. Find out more about these degree programs, their admissions requirements and some common course topics.

Graduate degree programs in visual and critical studies are usually offered as Master of Arts degree programs, but students may further specialize and pursue a doctoral degree in visual studies or critical studies. These master's degree programs are usually offered on-campus and train students in the analysis of various visuals. Explore these master's degree programs and some of their requirements.

Information for Graduate Degree Programs in Visual and Critical Studies

Students in master's degree programs in visual and critical studies are usually required to complete a thesis or final project to apply the knowledge they have gained throughout the program. These programs typically include coursework, workshops and forums to allow hands-on experience in the field and below we discuss a few of the common courses found in these programs.


Programs in visual and critical studies typically include a course on media to examine how media and technology influences today's culture and society. Students in these courses examine the messages of media, the dissemination of images and the critical theory of moving images. These courses apply these theories and topics to social media, advertisements, television news, photographs, films and more.

Research Methods

Students are generally required to take an introductory course in research methods for the field of visual and critical studies that helps prepare them for their thesis or final project work. Students may learn about current methodologies in the field through seminars and guest speakers, readings and class discussions. Topics may include developing research questions, available resources and contemporary issues in the field.

Introduction to Visual and Critical Studies

These courses usually go by various names, but provide students with an introduction to key scholars and thinkers in the field of visual and critical studies. Students in these courses explore the theories and concepts of visual culture that produces criticism. Some of these courses may also explore the cognitive science behind sight and perception, while others may look at different perspectives, such as feminist frameworks.

Cultural Criticism

Courses in cultural criticism explore modern visual culture and current criticism techniques and methodologies. Students explore the politics of identity in visual culture and may examine criticism in TV, art, sociology, journalism and other fields. These courses generally help to further develop students' communication, writing and research skills through research projects and class discussions.

Studio Critique

Although this course goes by many different names, most degree programs in visual and critical studies require students to take a course that sharpens their skills in critique, research and writing and provides time to work on their thesis or final project. Students may work in groups for discussions, writing assignments and group critiques. Students may also further develop their communication skills through presentations and peer review opportunities.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to master's degree programs in visual and critical studies generally need to submit their official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or a resume with their application. Applicants are usually required to hold a bachelor's degree, but it may come from any field. Most programs also require students to submit a portfolio with writing samples. It is also common for these programs to require applicants to go through an interview process prior to admission.

Students interested in studying the analysis and impact of visual images may pursue a Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies. These degree programs usually require a final project or thesis and discuss a range of topics and methodologies in the field.

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