UMass Boston

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Critical Ethnic & Community Studies MS

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About The Program

UMass Boston's Critical Ethnic and Community Studies program (formerly Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies, or TCCS) is a critical comparative ethnic studies graduate program with signature elements emphasizing transdisciplinarity and the recognition of transnational global–local connections. The Critical Ethnic and Community Studies program program centers on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and other social categories related to power and privilege that impact the experiences of both U.S.-born and immigrant members of racialized communities in the United States. This transdisciplinary program brings together scholarly research, cultural expression, and meaningful community partnerships in order to understand the histories and contemporary lives of racialized communities in the United States, their experiences as part of diasporic communities with transnational linkages, and their agency and self-determination. As part of this learning, students engage in critical analysis of how migration—to, from, and within the United States—forms an integral part of the experiences of racially and economically marginalized communities.

  • Students and faculty of the Critical Ethnic and Community Studies program share their thoughts on our blog.

Our Approach

Our transdisciplinary approach emphasizes the mobilization of knowledge for social justice. Transdisciplinarity entails integration across relevant disciplines as a means of addressing complex social issues that impact the everyday lives of individuals and communities beyond academia. A highly creative, flexible, and collaborative approach, transdisciplinarity is particularly apt for the social justice mission of the Critical Ethnic and Community Studies program and UMass Boston.

Critical Ethnic and Community Studies program aims to develop critical understandings and action skills in students with diverse career goals, providing a core of shared knowledge while enabling students to tailor their programs to meet particular interests. Students receive individual mentoring and advising as part of a community that fosters a collaborative learning environment and meaningful community partnerships to promote student success and contributions to the social, economic, political, and cultural empowerment of racially diverse communities.

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How to Apply

Applicants must meet general graduate admission requirements in addition to the following program-specific requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of recognized standing or an international equivalent at the time of enrollment
  • Official transcripts for all institutions where you have earned more than 6 credits
  • A minimum, cumulative GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale (or international equivalent) in all undergraduate work
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing sample
  • Two (2) letters or recommendation
  • If applicable, request official TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or Duolingo scores to be sent to the University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Deadlines: May 1 (priority) and June 1 (final) for fall

Deadlines & Cost

Deadlines: May 1 (priority) and June 1 (final) for fall

Application Fee: The nonrefundable application fee is $75. UMass Boston alumni and current students that plan to complete degree requirements prior to graduate enrollment can submit the application without paying the application fee.

Program Cost Information: Bursar's website

Why Pursue a CECS Master's?

  • Work with a racially and ethnically diverse, nationally recognized faculty with expertise in transdisciplinary research and teaching practices that draw from ethnic studies, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, history, psychology, public health, public policy, gender and sexuality studies, and literary and popular culture studies.
  • Join a group of students with diverse life experiences, identities, professional goals, and academic backgrounds committed to promoting social transformation and collective empowerment.
  • Individualize their programs in order to develop more-focused understandings and skills in analysis, research, program development, program evaluation, education, and other applications necessary for pursuing a wide array of careers.
  • Foster skills and experience partnering with community-based organizations working with racially and economically marginalized communities to mobilize strengths promoting resilience, growth, and social justice.
  • Benefit from close mentoring in developing a capstone project that integrates student learning from the curriculum in relation to a real issue or challenge of the student’s choice.


Core Courses (16 Credits)

  • CECS 600 - CECS Professional Seminar A 1 Credit(s)
  • CECS 610 - Foundations of Critical Ethnic and Community Studies 3 Credit(s)
  • CECS 611 - Migration and Diaspora 3 Credit(s)
  • CECS 612 - Community Formation and Development 3 Credit(s)
  • CECS 622 - Transdisciplinary Research in Practice B 3 Credit(s)
  • CECS 623 - Transdisciplinary Research Methods 3 Credit(s)

Electives (15 Credits)

Complete five additional courses chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor.

Electives for CECS include graduate courses from within Critical Ethnic and Community Studies as well as courses from other graduate disciplines or programs, such as Global Inclusion and Social Development, Public Administration, Creative Writing, Conflict Resolution, American Studies, Environmental Sciences, Gerontology, Urban Planning and Community Development, or Applied Sociology.

Alternatively, CECS offers the unique opportunity of fulfilling the elective sequence through the completion of a graduate certificate (at least 15 credits) in one of various areas, including:

  • Human Rights
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Survey Research
  • Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy
  • Critical and Creative Thinking

Capstone Course (6 Credits)

  • CECS 698 - CECS Master’s Capstone 3 Credit(s)

Graduation Criteria

Complete a minimum of 37 credits from 13 courses including six core courses, five electives, and one capstone course.

Students may transfer in completed certificates in Gender, Leadership and Public Policy, Conflict Resolution or Critical and Creative Thinking to partially or wholly fulfill their elective credits requirements.

Capstone: Completion of a project, internship, or research paper as part of CECS 698. The capstone includes a public presentation of the student’s work.

Grading basis: No courses taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory or for no grade may be applied toward the program.
Residency: Before enrollment in the program, students should consult with the graduate program director regarding transfer credits or UMass Boston undergraduate credits if these are intended to satisfy degree requirements. The program does not accept transfer credit for any of its required core courses; transfer courses may be applied to the program’s electives.
Independent study: No more than one independent study course (three credits) may be applied toward the program.
Statute of limitations: Five years.


Graduate Program Director J. Cedric Woods
cedric.woods [at]
(617) 287-5784

Administrative Assistant Amanda Achin
amanda.achin [at]
(617) 287-5129

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