Masters in Arts Politics

Our M.A. in Arts Politics offers an intimate and intensive one-year experience that expands the possibilities of cultural production. We rigorously explore the interplay between critical theory and creative practice. We provide a one-of-a-kind encounter with activists, artists, theorists and curators from diverse disciplines and interests.

The Curriculum

Students take a minimum of six courses inside the Department of Art & Public Policy (APP) — four core courses and two electives – plus multiple electives available either in APP or across the university. Our flexible curriculum inspires M.A. students to develop highly individualized paths of creativity, research and professional development, while also allowing for collaborative exploration.

The core curriculum has a dual focus: Theory, and Methods and Criticism.

The Theory course gives students a strong background in key concepts in Arts Politics.

The Methods and Criticism courses encourage students to develop critical frameworks in relationship to their own work and the creative and professional transitions they seek to make after school.

A Graduate Colloquium in the fall, and numerous electives throughout the year allow students to further locate and shape their particular modes of inquiry. Over the course of the year, students select at least two electives from the Departmental elective offerings, with three other electives to be selected from the Department or any other open graduate level courses in departments across the university. At least one elective must be a theory course. This course may be taken in fall or spring, and may be an APP course or an approved offering from another department. 

Five classes are taken in the fall for a total of 18 units. The course load then lightens to four classes for a minimum of 14 units during spring to allow students to focus more of their energy on specific projects of their choice, as well as collaborations and post-graduation planning.  Students may choose to take up to 18 credits in the spring term. 

Fall Semester

Theory I


This course expands the methodological, theoretical, and discursive possibilities of situating culture and the arts in relation to the political, tracking this relationship in a transnational world. By privileging analytics from transnational feminism, critical race theory, disability discourse, and queer studies, this course specifically reimagines the issues of arts and politics in relation to questions of power and survival. However, rather than perpetuating a dominant discourse of art merely being resistant to the state, we aim to expand other narratives and analytics that seek to complicate not only the political, but also the aesthetic. While tracking shifts in visual art in relation to performance, social practice, and the intermedial, we will also find grounding in concepts from political economy. This course is thus organized historically to introduce you to key analytics in critical theory to help one theorize and historicize their own practices and approaches. Each week is meant to be a broad introduction to key concepts in arts/politics since the mid 20th century so that you have grounding for your future courses.


Methods and Criticism I

Cultural Activism

In the Cultural Activism course student presentations of their work serve as the impetus to critically analyze one another’s methods and conceptual frameworks. Students in the Department of Art & Public Policy have diverse interests and ways of working, they do not share a single methodological or critical approach. They are performers, filmmakers and dancers. They are activists and community organizers. They are arts administrators and organizational leaders. They are theorists and emerging scholars. They are educators, working inside and outside of schools, museums and institutions. This course encourages a dynamic encounter with one another’s work, with an emphasis on critical analysis. What are the theoretical underpinnings of one’s practice? What are the spaces, modes and terms of engagement? What are the traditions and contexts that the work draws upon, or pushes against? Through these queries into their methodologies, students will identify possible nodes of collaboration and shared investigation. These affinities will then serve as the basis for self-organized work during the spring semester’s Fieldwork course, the second in the Methods and Criticism track.



Colloquium is a weekly space to support students in their acclimation to graduate school, while offering professionalization opportunities through workshops, fieldtrips and networking. The course helps students to prepare for the collaboration, research, creativity and convening that will continue in the Spring Semester in the core Methods and Criticism II course, and across students’ chosen elective courses. Within this class, students will interface with Departmental faculty and alumni, as well as artists, activists and theorists from New York’s dynamic cultural and political landscape. Fieldtrips to performances, museums, panels and community organizations will help to further connect students to the local context. Professional skills can be built through workshops tailored to students’ interests and needs, with possible themes such as fundraising, crafting a job-specific C.V., and building a creative network. What are the frameworks, methodologies, tools, connections and experiences you need in order to evolve and sustain your practice? How is this current historical moment calling you to reflect, shift or lead? Our goal will be to apply these lessons to the professional pauses and pivots that unfold for students over the course of the one-year program.

Elective 1

Student may select an elective from the Departmental elective offerings, or from any other open graduate level courses in departments across the university.

Elective 2

Student may select an elective from the Departmental elective offerings, or from any other open graduate level courses in departments across the university.

Spring Semester

Theory II

Departmental Elective of Student’s Choice

This elective builds on the core theoretical foundation established in the fall Issues in Arts Politics course, while allowing students to select a departmental elective course that best aligns with their research interests. The goal is to expand theoretical training while deepening students’ research skills. Elective courses are rigorously focused on contemporary issues, offering deeper dives into feminist, ecological, queer, disability, post-colonial and critical race theories. Previous elective courses with an emphasis in theory include:

  • Memoir and Cultural Memory: Representing Postcolonial Displacements

  • Sensing Race: Affects, Phenomena, & Worlding Intimacies

  • Queer & Disability Theory: The Then & Now of Crip

  • Law, Culture, & the Lure of Resistance: Lessons on Institutional Critique

  • On the Concept of Law: Race and the Reorder of Things

  • The Transnational Turn: Ethics, Methods, and Race

  • Sensing Race: Affect, Phenomena, and Worlding Relationality

  • Feminist Practices in the Americas

  • Representing the Middle East: Issues in the Politics of Culture

  • Environmental Entanglements

  • Postcolonial Displacement: Memoir and Memory

  • Marxism and In/Humanism: Race, Queerness, & the Aesthetic

  • Anatomy of Difference

Methods and Criticism II

Fieldwork is the second course in the Methods and Criticism track and an important space of synthesis. The course encourages students to work in self-selected clusters based on shared interests and modes of working. For example, students interested in curating might organize themselves around developing an exhibition. Artists can assemble a critique group for giving in-depth feedback on works in progress. Scholars interested in pursuing publishing or a Ph.D. could workshop chapters and organize panels. These peer-based practice clusters are not mutually exclusive; rather they hold open curricular space for students to further focus and tailor their work together. Students will also develop pathways for their practices after graduation, networking with potential partners, organizations, employers and support systems. Our graduates go on to work as artists and scholars, curators and community organizers, arts administrators, educators and cultural innovators. Our alumni are actively connected to the pulse of social justice, forming a global network of engaged thinkers and doers across six different continents. Fieldwork gives current students the opportunity to tap into the alumni network’s experiences, while crafting their own creative, research and activist projects.


Elective 3

Student may select an elective from the Departmental elective offerings, or from any other open graduate level courses in departments across the university.

Elective 4

Student may select an elective from the Departmental elective offerings, or from any other open graduate level courses in departments across the university.

Elective 5

Student may select an elective from the Departmental elective offerings, or from any other open graduate level courses in departments across the university.