Critical and Creative Thinking Certificate

Offered online, on campus, or blended

The Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) program at the University of Massachusetts Boston provides its students with knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.

Critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice are valued, of course, in all fields. In critical thinking we seek to scrutinize the assumptions, reasoning, and evidence brought to bear on an issue — by others and by oneself; such scrutiny is enhanced by placing ideas and practices in tension with alternatives. Key functions of creative thinking include generating alternative ideas, practices, and solutions that are unique and effective, and exploring ways to confront complex, messy, ambiguous problems, make new connections, and see how things could be otherwise. In reflective practice we take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise our approaches accordingly.

The rationale for a Certificate programs of study in CCT is that an explicit and sustained focus on learning and applying ideas and tools in critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice allows students involved in a wide array of professions and endeavors to develop clarity and confidence to make deep changes in their learning, teaching, work, activism, research, and artistry. The experience gained through the pursuit of the Graduate Certificate in CCT leads students to discover new ways to approach their current fields, establish interdisciplinary connections between existing and emerging interests, and bring new thinking into their professional and personal lives and organizations. A study of Critical and Creative Thinking leads to new perspectives and more flexible thinking in one’s field of expertise; the Graduate Certificate provides an edge to students as they come to understand their previous knowledge in novel ways as well as explore innovations and new directions.

By the time CCT students finish their studies they are prepared to teach or guide others in ways that often depart markedly from their previous schooling and experience. In these processes of transformation and transfer, CCT students have to select and adapt the ideas and tools presented by faculty with diverse disciplinary and interdisciplinary concerns. Although each CCT course is self-contained and is open to students from other graduate programs, students matriculated in the Program benefit from extended relationships with core CCT faculty and fellow students that support their processes of learning — experimenting and taking risks in applying what they are learning, reflecting on the outcomes and revising accordingly, and building up a set of tools, practices, and perspectives that work in their specific professional or personal endeavors.

Impact of studies

The CCT Program appeals to students looking for professional and personal development who are interested in learning from and with others of diverse backgrounds and interests. Many are mid-career educators: teachers and college professors, curriculum specialists, museum educators, or educational administrators. Others are policy makers or personnel trainers in government, corporate, scientific, or nonprofit settings. Some are artists, musicians, writers, journalists, and community activists. Through course projects, independent studies, pre-capstone research courses, and the capstone synthesis projects, CCT students explore issues they have not had much chance to address before and translate what they learn into strategies, materials, and interventions for use in diverse educational, professional, and social settings. Graduates leave CCT well equipped for ongoing learning, addressing the needs of their schools, workplaces, and communities, adapting and contributing to social changes, and collaborating with others to these ends. Testimonials and Notes from Alumni of the program can be viewed on the CCT wiki, Abstracts and full-text versions of theses and capstone syntheses (showing the range of projects of students completing the entire MA) can be viewed at