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Program Information


Students seeking a Master of Arts (MA) degree take 11 courses (33 credits). Most students undertake the regular track, which involves coursework that draws upon the faculty’s expertise in psychology, philosophy, education, and other fields. A concentration in Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies allows some substitutions to regular track’s foundation courses. Alternatively, a Graduate Certificate in Critical and Creative Thinking is available to those who wish to complement a Master’s degree in another program or otherwise do not wish to pursue a full MA. Students with particular interests in science may instead choose to pursue a related track called Science in a Changing World, which places an emphasis on Civic Engagement, Collaborative Processes and Innovative Teaching around current and historical controversies involving science and technology and also leads to an MA degree or Graduate Certificate.

The MA in Critical and Creative Thinking can be earned completely through face-to-face sections, completely through online sections, or through a combination. CCT courses also allow students from other graduate programs to fulfill requirements or electives for courses in critical and creative thinking, curriculum development, research and writing for reflective practice, urban and social justice education, teaching in the different subject areas, and dialogue and collaboration in organizational change.

Non-degree students can also take CCT courses; this opportunity, together with workshops, summer institutes, monthly evening forums, and invitations to join online communities of practice further extend the range of educational experiences offered by the Program. To accommodate the schedules of teachers and other professionals, courses are offered after 4 pm, in intensive sessions during the summer, and online. While it is possible for a full-time student to complete the Master’s program in one calendar year, most students combine the program with their ongoing careers and therefore take at least two or three years. MA students complete the four foundation courses, four electives, and three final required "research and engagement" courses including a capstone synthesis. The choice of track, elective courses, and research and engagement projects allow students to define specific areas in which they explore their CCT-related interests -- for example, "creative thinking at work", "gifted and talented education", "critical and creative thinking in literature/arts/music", "dialogue and collaboration in organizational change." Additional areas of specialization can be constructed through cooperation with other UMass Boston graduate programs, such as Instructional Design, Educational Administration, Public Policy and Conflict Resolution.

Foundation Courses


Research and Engagement

Admission Information

The following items must be submitted to apply to enter the Critical and Creative Thinking program as an MA student. Please refer to the general Graduate Admissions page for additional information about fees, application materials, and applying as an international student.

  1. Undergraduate Transcripts: The CCT Program looks for a generally distinguished undergraduate transcript with an average of at least 3.0 in advanced undergraduate work. For students with a strong record of accomplishment in other areas, the CCT Admissions committee will recommend provisional admission with the stipulation that the student completes two courses in the program with a course grade of B+ or better. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the Program, we do not require that you come from any specific program of study.
  2. Letters of Recommendation: Three letters are required from people who have worked closely with you and who have direct knowledge of your abilities. The people you ask to recommend you should be able to comment in detail about your academic strengths, work experience, or life experience.
  3. Statement of Interest and Intent: The Program’s admissions requirements call for an essay of at least 1200 words in which you explain your intellectual, artistic, professional or personal reasons for wanting to pursue a degree in Critical and Creative Thinking. Your essay should include specific accounts of your past work and current direction. You should provide a detailed discussion of your specific interests and priorities as a student; the projects you have completed in the past; the problems and topics you want to focus on in future study; and how and why you believe the CCT program can help you accomplish your goals. The CCT Admissions Committee will read your essay as a demonstration of how you write and how you think about issues, as well as determine if your interests and goals match those of the Program.
  4. Test Scores: GRE scores are optional to apply for our program. International students should check with Graduate Admissions to inform you of your required tests.
  5. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Required from students from countries where English is not the primary language.
  6. Declaration and Certification of Finances: Required from all International Students who take face-to-face courses before an I-20 is issued, with which the student applies for a student visa. For current financial support requirements and other information, visit the Graduate Admissions page for International students or call 617.287.6400.
  7. Personal Disclosure Form

Transfer of Courses

With the approval of the Graduate Program Director, the University allows graduate students to transfer up to 6 credits of graduate work from outside UMass Boston and up to 6 credits of UMass Boston courses taken before matriculating into the Program. Grades must be a B or higher, and an official transcript is needed for courses taken outside UMass Boston. Students starting their coursework in the summer do not matriculate until the fall but may submit a pre-matriculation waiver so that all credits taken in the summer count.

Course Waivers

If you bring an unusually strong background in a particular subject area and have written documentation to verify this, it may be appropriate to have a course waived and have another course substituted in its place in your program. If you wish to apply to have a course waived, write a clear letter of request to the Program Coordinator, attaching copies of the appropriate documentation and identifying the course you wish to substitute. Allow at least one month for such requests to be processed and responded to.

Non-Degree Students

Non-degree students who have an undergraduate degree may enroll in CCT courses on a space available basis. Non-degree students can enroll in courses during the registration period set aside by the University. If your experience as a non-degree student leads you to decide to apply to the program, please do so before you take a third course because only 6 credits of UMass Boston courses taken before matriculation can be counted toward your degree. Any exceptions to this policy must be addressed by submitting a Pre-Matriculation Waiver Form which must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.

Tuition and Fee

Please visit the Bursar’s Office for a complete breakdown of current tuition and fees.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the Master's program students in the CCT graduate program and the Science in a Changing World graduate track are asked to assess themselves in relation to two sets of specific learning goals using a "Plus-Delta" format. These learning goals are introduced to new students as part of the requirement to assemble a Reflective Practitioner's Portfolio during their studies; the pre-capstone course, Processes of Research and Engagement, is structured explicitly around the goals.

The Exit Self-Assessment has been made part of the Capstone requirement given that reflective practice and lifelong learning are overarching goals of the Program. That is, students are led to experiment and take risks in applying what they are learning, reflect on the outcomes and revise accordingly, and build up a set of tools, practices, and perspectives that work in their specific professional or personal endeavors.

The Exit Self-Assessment centers on the student's experience in the capstone or "Synthesis" process, but it allows room to review the learning during the Program as a whole. The Plus-Delta format for Self-Assessment requires the student to describe for each goal:

"My Synthesis Product Shows That..."

  1. I can convey who I want to influence/affect concerning what (Subject, Audience, Purpose).
  2. I know what others have done before, either in the form of writing or action, that informs and connects with my project, and I know what others are doing now.
  3. I have teased out my vision, so as to expand my view of issues associated with the project, expose possible new directions, clarify direction/scope within the larger set of issues, and decide the most important direction.
  4. I have identified the premises and propositions that my project depends on, and can state counter-propositions. I have taken stock of the thinking and research I need to do to counter those counter-propositions or to revise my own propositions.
  5. I have clear objectives with respect to product, both written and practice, and process, including personal development as a reflective practitioner. I have arranged my work in a sequence (with realistic deadlines) to realize these objectives.
  6. I have gained direct information, models, and experience not readily available from other sources.
  7. I have clarified the overall progression or argument underlying my research and the written reports.
  8. My writing and other products Grab the attention of the readers/audience, Orient them, move them along in Steps, so they appreciate the Position I have led them to.
  9. I have facilitated new avenues of classroom, workplace, and public participation.
  10. To feed into my future learning and other work, I have taken stock of what has been working well and what needs changing.

Developing as a Reflective Practitioner, Including Taking Initiatives in and Through Relationships

  1. I have integrated knowledge and perspectives from CCT and other courses into my own inquiry and engagement in social and/or educational change.
  2. I have also integrated into my own inquiry and engagement the processes, experiences, and struggles of previous courses.
  3. I have developed efficient ways to organize my time, research materials, computer access, bibliographies, etc.
  4. I have experimented with new tools and experiences, even if not every one became part of my toolkit as a learner, teacher/facilitator of others, and reflective practitioner.
  5. I have paid attention to the emotional dimensions of undertaking my own project but have found ways to clear away distractions from other sources (present & past) and not get blocked, turning apparent obstacles into opportunities to move into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory.
  6. I have developed peer and other horizontal relationships. I have sought support and advice from peers, and have given support and advice to them when asked for.
  7. I have taken the lead, not dragged my feet, in dialogue with my advisor and other readers. I didn't wait for the them to tell me how to solve an expository problem, what must be read and covered in a literature review, or what was meant by some comment I didn't understand. I didn't put off giving my writing to my advisor and other readers or avoid talking to them because I thought that they didn't see things the same way as I do.
  8. I have revised seriously, which involved responding to the comments of others. I came to see this not as bowing down to the views of others, but taking them in and working them into my own reflective inquiry until I could convey more powerfully to others what I'm about (which may have changed as a result of the reflective inquiry).
  9. I have inquired and negotiated about formal standards, but gone on to develop and internalize my own criteria for doing work--criteria other than jumping through hoops set by the professor so I get a good grade.
  10. I have approached the CCT synthesis course and the CCT program as works-in-progress, which means that, instead of harboring criticisms to submit after the fact, I have found opportunities to affirm what is working well in the synthesis course and program as a whole and to suggest directions for their further development.

Contact Us

For further information, please contact Peter Taylor, Graduate Program Director, or Jeremy Szeiter, Assistant Director:

Telephone: 617.287.7636

Program Office:

Wheatley Hall, Fourth Floor, Room 170.
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3393