Contemporary Art Practice: Art and Social Practice

Graduate Program

Contemporary Art Practice: Art and Social Practice

PSU art student working on a painting

Art and Social Practice Masters Degree Overview

PSU’s Art and Social Practice MFA defines what it means to be an artist in society. In our three-year, flexible-residency program, you’ll combine individual research, group work, and experiential learning to find new ways to engage with your art and the community. Our program’s blend of critical and professional practice, progressive pedagogy, collaborative social engagement, and transdisciplinary exploration produces an immersive educational experience.

We encourage you to shape the direction of your education as you connect your art practice to research in the field of Social Practice through elective coursework and community partnerships, promoting cross disciplinary engagement.

Graduating students each produce a public graduate project, a publication exploring a relevant connection to their practice, and a public artist lecture that surveys their work in the program.

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
Online:
100% online
Flexible:
Combination of online and on campus
  • M
    Masters
    Locations
    On campus
    Flexible
    Total Credits
    90
    Start Term
    Fall

Art and Social Practice Masters Degree: Why PSU?

At Portland State University, we are pioneers in the field of social practice. Our continually evolving program, the oldest running Social Practice MFA program in the world, offers a unique combination of experiential learning, seminar discussions, and collaborative project making with strong ties to the Portland community as well as with organizations and individuals globally. We were recently rated as one of the top 15 art programs in the country by Artsy.

Our program offers publication opportunities through Social Practice Reference Points book series and SoFA Journal, opportunities to engage with ongoing community partnerships such as KSMoCA (King School Museum of Contemporary Art) and the Columbia River Correctional Institution. We also facilitate community-building events for our students, such as Assembly, an annual social practice conference where participants shape the collective experience by contributing to dialogue, group projects, workshops and publications.

When you graduate, you’ll publicly present your graduate project, which is a critical step toward becoming a working artist when you’ve graduated.

What can I do with a master's degree in Art and Social Practice?

Alumni from our program have secured tenure track teaching jobs, adjunct teaching jobs, have produced public art projects and participated in major exhibitions. They work with museum education programs and non-profits, have started businesses, worked with governments, and have received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships.

Featured Courses

  • ART 598 Art and Social Practice Workshop
  • ART 497 A History of Art and Social Practice
  • ART 583 Practice and Pedagogy
  • ART 586 Visiting Artist Seminar
  • ART 584 Social Practice Directed Studies
  • ART 330 Critical Theories
  • ART 581 Topics Seminar
  • ARH 598 Contemporary Art History
  • ART 582 MFA Graduate Seminar II: Writing and Research
  • ART 508 Workshop: Elective Exploration
  • ART 599 Graduate Critique
  • ART 587 Graduate Project

Electives

  • SOC 519 Sociology of Mental Illness
  • CR 512 Foundations of Conflict Resolution
  • SW 447 Social Work and Sustainability
  • WS 512 Feminist Methodologies
  • BST 512 Oregon African American History
  • USP 518 Energy and Society

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).